Study challenges uranium as stable and abundant nuclear fuel

Science of the Total Environment uranium production Canadian and Australian mining

A new study from the journal Science of the Total Environment warns of a coming supply crunch, in which declining uranium production meets growing demand, sending the price of the nuclear fuel spiraling upward.

Analyzing average extraction data from Canadian and Australian uranium mines, which, the authors say, reveals that historically no more than 50-70 percent of a uranium deposit can be mined, the peer-reviewed study foresees peak uranium production in 2015, after which the uranium supply will decline sharply by 2030.

“This amount will not be sufficient to fuel the existing and planned nuclear power plants during the next 10–20 years,” which will be unavoidable even if nuclear power is slowly phased out globally over the next 15 years. “We thus suggest that a worldwide nuclear energy phase-out is in order.”

“If such a slow global phase-out is not voluntarily effected, the end of the present cheap uranium supply situation will be unavoidable,” the study says.

If accurate the study could foretell serious weaknesses in the national energy strategies of countries like China, which is heavily investing in nuclear power as a clean and stable energy source. The study could also present challenges for other countries seeking to meet carbon-emissions goals through the use of nuclear power.

To view the study, click here.

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