Global uranium demand boost raises questions of supply security

(EurActiv, 23 Aug 2023) The war in Ukraine and talks of energy independence are pushing superpowers to turn to nuclear, driving uranium prices up again after a 10-year slump, and raising concerns that supply shortages are not to be ruled out in the long run.

Global supply of natural uranium, a mineral critical to nuclear energy, is coming back into the media spotlight following July’s coup in Niger, the world’s sixth-largest producer.

French nuclear mogul Orano, which exploits one mine in Niger, asserted the political situation in the Sahel did not threaten uranium supplies in France and the EU, confirming they have “20-year resources and reserves, through a four-continent-wide production and growth projects”, a spokesperson told EURACTIV.

Experts also agree there is no short-term ‘uranium problem’: until very recently, the mineral was “overabundant and accessible at low prices,” Raphaël Danino-Perraud, associate researcher at IFRI, a think-tank, said in a conversation with EURACTIV.

But all also flag that demand is going up in new, unprecedented ways, as large superpowers turn to nuclear to ramp up energy independence, and the ‘Fukushima scare’ is over.

Could the world be headed for a uranium shortage?

10-year price slump…

Tristan Kamin, a nuclear safety engineer contacted by EURACTIV, ruled out any significant disruptions in the next few years. Uranium resources are so far abundant, existing in large quantities in both discovered and exploited ‘resources’, as well as yet-unexplored ‘reserves’.

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EurActiv, 23 Aug 2023: Global uranium demand boost raises questions of supply security