US uranium output rebounds

05 February 2014

US production of uranium concentrate increased 16% in 2013, reaching its highest level since 1997, according to preliminary figures.

Uranium output totalled 4.81 million pounds U3O8 (1850 tU) last year, the US Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported. This compares with production of 4.14 million pounds (1592 tU) in 2012.

US U production 2013 - 460 (EIA)
US uranium production, in million pounds U3O8, 2000-2013 (Image: EIA)

Production in 2013 represents some 10% of the 2013 anticipated uranium market requirements of 50 million pounds U3O8 (over 19,000 tU) at US nuclear power plants, the IEA said. Uranium demand from US reactor operators is forecast to drop to 48 million pounds (18,463 tU) this year. The country's fleet of 100 reactors produces some 19% of its electricity.

Since 2011, US uranium production has risen 21% following the start-up of three production facilities: two in 2011 and one in 2013. During 2013, uranium was produced at one mill - White Mesa in Utah – and six in-situ-leach mines: Alta Mesa and Hobson/La Palangana in Texas; Crow Butte in Nebraska; and Smith Ranch-Highland, Lost Creek and Willow Creek, all in Wyoming.

According to the IEA, US production has ramped up to partially offset imports from the Megatons to Megawatts program, which made its last delivery in December. Since 1995, the USA purchased more than 14,000 tonnes of low-enriched uranium (LEU) from Russia derived from downblended high-enriched uranium (HEU) from nuclear disarmament and military stockpiles. This LEU has been used by the USA to fuel its nuclear power reactors, supplying nearly 10% of all US electricity over the past 15 years.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News