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Today in Energy

February 4, 2014

U.S. uranium concentrate production rises as Megatons to Megawatts program ends

Graph of total U.S. production of uranium concentrate, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Domestic Uranium Production Report, Quarterly
Note: Data for 2013 are preliminary.

U.S. uranium concentrate production in 2013 is up 21% since 2011 after the start of three production facilities, one in 2013 and two in 2011. Production has ramped up to partially offset imports from the now-ended Megatons to Megawatts program, which made its last delivery in December 2013. Production in 2013 totaled 4.8 million pounds, from seven uranium concentrate processing facilities—the highest production level since 1997.

Most U.S. demand for nuclear fuel is met by foreign sources, with 83% of uranium coming from other countries in 2012. Owners and operators of U.S. nuclear power plants expect to need 48 million pounds of uranium in 2014. These market requirements include the quantity of uranium that is under contract plus additional uranium that companies are planning to purchase to fuel their nuclear power plants, based on plans for maintaining uranium inventories for their future refueling cycles. At the end of 2012, uranium inventories owned by U.S. nuclear power plants totaled 97 million pounds, which is almost two years worth of uranium. Inventories represent ownership of uranium in different stages of the nuclear fuel cycle (in-process for conversion, enrichment, or fabrication) at domestic or foreign nuclear fuel facilities.

Increased domestic production of uranium concentrate should help fill the market requirements going forward.

graph of anticipated uranium market requirements for owners and operators of U.S. nuclear power plants, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2012 Uranium Marketing Annual Report

Principal contributor: Doug Bonnar