Russia plans to increase US uranium market presence from 25-35% by 2020
Russian nuclear monopoly Rosatom plans to further increase the volume of its uranium supplies to the US in the coming years, as the company considers the US market as strategic for its further development.
Currently export portfolio of Rosatom includes 25 contracts on the supplies of uranium to the US, with a total value of about US$6.5 billion and there is a possibility that these figures may significantly grow in the coming years.
Supplies are currently carried out by Techsnabexport, (a Russian nuclear fuel and nuclear fuel cycle technology exporting company and a subsidiary of Rosatom), while the contracts are signed with 19 American companies, with supplies due until 2028.
At present Russia meets about 25% uranium needs of US nuclear power plants and hopes to increase these figures up to 30%-35% after 2020.
In the meantime, the ever growing domination of Russia in the US uranium market has already sparked concerns from the US public, however, due to the current crisis in the American uranium industry, the US will be forced to continue purchases of uranium from Russia.
Last year the production of uranium in the US fell to the level of the 1950s, while its further enrichment with gas centrifuges was declared unprofitable. Due to this, Global Nuclear Fuel, a world-leading supplier of boiling water reactor fuel, was forced to sign a contract with Rosatom for the manufacture of fuel rods for American-type reactors.
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In addition, Exelon Corporation, the largest operator of nuclear power plants in the United States, last year announced its plans to close at least two nuclear power plants – Clinton and Quad Cities by the end of the current year, despite the fact that their operational life is designed until 2047-2048. Being the world’s leading country in terms of the number of nuclear power plants the US are not able to efficiently operate them.
This creates conditions for Russian expansion, which has been carrying uranium supplies to the US since 1987 and which has significantly increased the volume of its supplies in recent years.
Today Russia controls half of the world market of enriched uranium, while together with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Russia’s satellites and strategic allies this figure is estimated 73%. And this is only the basis of the pyramid, the top of which is the country’s domination in the technology of production of fast neutron reactors.
From 1994 to 2013 as part of the Megatons to Megawatts Program, (a program on the use of highly enriched uranium extracted from nuclear weapons), Russia through its Techsnabexport enterprises provided uranium enrichment services to the US, totaling about 90 million SWU.
In general, since 1993, 7 trillion kWh of electricity have been produced at US nuclear power plants with the use of Russian uranium and it is planned that this figure will significantly grow during the next decade.
Eugene Gerden is an international free-lance writer, based in St. Petersburg, who specializes on writing in the field of mining, metals and rare earth metals. ... <Read more about Eugene Gerden>