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Katie Tubb is a policy analyst for the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research.
President Donald Trump should be commended for separating fact from fiction in his decision late Friday not to employ trade barriers on uranium imports.
Issue - Investigation - Imports - Department - Commerce
At issue was a year-and-a-half-long investigation into uranium imports brought to the Department of Commerce by two small uranium mining companies. The petitioners argued that uranium imports—which make up 93% of the uranium used by commercial nuclear power plants in the U.S.—presented a national security threat.
Misinformation unfortunately played a role in the debate. For example, petitioners arguing for quotas claimed we have “essentially surrendered the entire fuel cycle to China and Russia.” But that simply isn’t the case.
Nuclear - Energy - Companies - US - Uranium
Nuclear energy companies in the U.S. didn’t import uranium from China in 2018. Instead, they imported from a variety of countries in short- and long-term contracts: Canada (24%), Kazakhstan (20%), Australia (18%), Russia (13%), Uzbekistan (6%), and Namibia (5%).
The reality is that international uranium markets are flooded with inexpensive supply. Domestic licensed mine capacity more than tripled since 2004 in anticipation of growth, but only a handful of mines are actually operating now given market conditions.
Increase - Demand - Renaissance - Downturn - Demand
The hoped-for increase in uranium demand failed to appear with the “nuclear renaissance” of the early 2000s. The unexpected downturn in global uranium demand following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan contributed to other factors that depressed demand in America, such as the 2008 financial crisis, flat electricity usage, several nuclear power plant closures, increased fuel and reactor operations efficiencies, and the natural gas fracking boom.
Although plenty of inexpensive sources of uranium is bad news for uranium companies, it’s...
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