U.S. Nuclear Plants Largely Fueled by Foreign-Produced Uranium Concentrate

uranium mine

U.S. uranium concentrate production has been near historic lows since 2003, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Uranium production started in 1949 and peaked in 1980. In first quarter 2016, production was 0.63 million pounds of uranium (U3O8). At that rate, total 2016 production may be about 2.5 million pounds, only slightly higher than the low of 2 million pounds produced in 2003. Nebraska and Wyoming are the only states that produced uranium concentrate in fourth quarter 2015 and first-quarter 2016. Production in Texas and Utah stopped in 3Q 2015, and the one uranium producer in Nebraska has decided to reduce production, the report stated. While three new producers in Wyoming have begun operations since 2013, current producers are scaling back production.

Most of the uranium used at U.S. nuclear power plants is imported, with plant operators and owners buying 57 million pounds of uranium in 2015. Nearly half of those purchases originated from Canada and Kazakhstan, which provided 17 million pounds and 11 million pounds of uranium, respectively.

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