US uranium purchases slightly up for 2020: EIA

25 May 2021

The vast majority of uranium delivered in 2020 to the owners and operators of US civilian nuclear power reactors was of foreign origin, according to the latest annual report from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Nearly half (47%) of the uranium purchased during the year originated in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Uzbekistan, with 34% originating in Australia and Canada.

(Image: Cameco)

In total, US plant owners and operators purchased a total of 48.9 million pounds U3O8 equivalent (18,809 tU) during the year at a weighted-average price of USD33.27 per pound U3O8. Canada supplied 22.4% of total deliveries, slightly more than Kazakhstan, which accounted for 22.1% of total deliveries. Total purchases for the year were slightly up on the 48.3 million pounds purchased in 2019, but the weighted-average price was 7% lower year-on-year and the lowest price since 2007, EIA said in its 2020 Uranium Market Annual Report.

Almost a quarter (24%) of the uranium delivered was purchased under spot contracts at a weighted-average price of USD28.70 per pound. The remaining 76% was purchased under long-term contracts at a weighted-average price of USD34.74 per pound.

Maximum uranium deliveries for 2021 to 2030 under existing purchase contracts totalled 194 million pounds U3O8 at the end of 2020, while unfilled uranium market requirements for 2021 through 2030 totalled 188 million pounds U3O8. "These contracted deliveries and unfilled market requirements combined represent the maximum anticipated market requirements of 382 million pounds U3O8 over the next 10 years for COOs [civilian owner/operators]," the EIA said.

Total US commercial inventories, including those owned by COOs, brokers, converters, enrichers, fabricators, producers, and traders, were 123.1 million pounds U3O8 at the end of 2020, down 6% from 130.7 million pounds year-on-year. Commercial uranium inventories owned at the end of 2020 by COOs totalled 107.2 million pounds U3O8, a 5% decrease on the previous year. Inventories owned by US suppliers (converters, enrichers, fabricators, producers, brokers and traders) stood at 16.0 million pounds U3O8, down 9% from 2019 year-end levels.

The EIA earlier this year said it was unable to publicly release US uranium production data for the fourth quarter of 2020 because it did not reach a threshold where a specific production figure could be published without violating confidentiality protections. The Administration's Domestic Uranium Production Report, released earlier this month, reported that one conventional uranium mill - White Mesa in Utah - and two in-situ leach projects - Lost Creek and Smith Ranch-Highland, both in Wyoming - were operating in the USA at the end of 2020.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News