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AMERICA'S GLOBAL DEPENDENCY FOR NEARLY EVERYTHING
Friday, January 22, 2010
Where uranium comes from
In 2008, 85% of U.S. uranium consumption was imported, an import dependency greater than that for oil.
Canada extracts the most uranium of any country, and has the greatest known reserves. Australia is second-place producer, with Kazakhstan, Niger, and Russia in a near-tie for third place. Kazakhstan is second in reserves. The U.S. imports uranium from Canada, Australia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Uzbekistan, South Africa, and elsewhere.
Economic viability of uranium mines in the U.S. depends sensitively on the price. Wyoming and New Mexico together have some 700 million pounds of uranium reserves if the price is $50 per pound, but only around 175 million pounds at $30 per pound. In January 2010 the price was $44.50 per pound, but uranium prices from 2004 to 2007 fluctuated widely, from $15 to $138 per pound. Volatile prices are the bane of the mining industry, which requires long lead times, huge up-front investment, and complex infrastructure.
Nuclear power plant image from Wikipedia.