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Uranium Marketing Annual Report

With Data for 2020 Release Date: May 20, 2021 Next Release Date: May 2022 full reportPDF

Uranium purchases and prices

Owners and operators of U.S. civilian nuclear power reactors (civilian owner/operators, or COOs) purchased a total of 48.9 million pounds U3O8e (equivalent1) of deliveries from U.S. suppliers and foreign suppliers during 2020, at a weighted-average price of $33.27 per pound U3O8e . The 2020 total of 48.9 million pounds U3O8e was 1% higher than the 2019 total of 48.3 million pounds U3O8e. The 2020 weighted-average price of $33.27 per pound U3O8e was 7% lower than the 2019 weighted-average price of $35.59 per pound U3O8e (Table 1) and the lowest price since 2007.

The vast majority of uranium delivered in 2020 was of foreign-origin with Canada the top source at 22.4% of total deliveries, edging out Kazakhstan which had 22.1% of total deliveries. Uranium originating in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Uzbekistan accounted for 47% of total uranium purchased by U.S. COOs in 2020. Canadian-origin uranium and Australian-originan uranium together accounted for 34% (Table 3).

COOs purchased three material types of uranium for 2020 deliveries from 35 sellers (Table 4, Table 24). During 2020, 24% of the uranium delivered was purchased under spot contracts at a weighted-average price of $28.70 per pound. The remaining 76% was purchased under long-term contracts at a weighted-average price of $34.74 per pound (Table 7). Spot contracts are contracts with a one-time uranium delivery (usually) for the entire contract, and the delivery typically occurs within one year of contract execution (signed date). Long-term contracts are contracts with one or more uranium deliveries to occur at least a year following the contract execution (signed date) and as such may reflect some agreements of short and medium terms as well as longer term.

New and future uranium contracts

In 2020, COOs signed 39 new purchase contracts with deliveries in 2020 of 12 million pounds U3O8e at a weighted-average price of $25.21 per pound (Table 8).

COOs report minimum and maximum quantities of future deliveries under contract to allow for the option of either decreasing or increasing quantities. At the end of 2020, the maximum uranium deliveries for 2021 through 2030 under existing purchase contracts for COOs totaled 194 million pounds U3O8e (Table 10). Also at the end of 2020, unfilled uranium market requirements for 2021 through 2030 totaled 188 million pounds U3O8e (Table 11). These contracted deliveries and unfilled market requirements combined represent the maximum anticipated market requirements of 382 million pounds U3O8e over the next 10 years for COOs.

Uranium feed, enrichment services, uranium loaded

In 2020, COOs delivered 34 million pounds U3O8e of natural uranium feed to U.S. and foreign enrichers. U.S. enrichment suppliers received 48% of the feed, and the remaining 52% was delivered to foreign enrichment suppliers (Table 13). Fourteen million separative work units (SWU)2 were purchased under enrichment services contracts from 14 sellers in 2020 (Table 16, Table 25). The average price paid by the COOs for the 14 million SWU was $99.51 per SWU in 2020, 9% lower than the 2019 average price of $109.54 per SWU. In 2020, the U.S.-origin SWU share was 29%, and the foreign-origin SWU accounted for the remaining 71%. Foreign-origin SWU included 23% from Russia, 13% from the Netherlands, 9% from the United Kingdom and 8% from Germany (Table 16).

Uranium in fuel assemblies loaded into U.S. civilian nuclear power reactors during 2020 contained 48.6 million pounds U3O8e, compared with 43.2 million pounds U3O8e loaded during 2019. During 2020, 18% of the uranium loaded during 2019 was U.S.-origin uranium, and 82% was foreign-origin uranium (Table 18).

Uranium foreign purchases/sales and inventories

U.S. suppliers (brokers, converters, enrichers, fabricators, producers, and traders) and COOs purchase uranium each year from foreign suppliers. Together, foreign purchases totaled 39.6 million pounds U3O8e in 2020, and the weighted-average price was $33.79 per pound U3O8e (Table 19). U.S. suppliers and COOs also sold uranium to foreign suppliers. Together, foreign sales totaled 9.9 million pounds U3O8e in 2020, and the weighted-average price was $29.57 per pound Year-end commercial 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. Total U.S. commercial inventories (including inventories owned by COOs, U.S. brokers, converters, enrichers, fabricators, producers, and traders) were 123.1 million pounds U3O8e at the end of 2020, down 6% from 130.7 million pounds at the end of 2019. Commercial uranium inventories owned at the end of 2020 by COOs totaled 107.2 million pounds U3O8e, a 5% decrease in inventories from the year-end 2019 level. Uranium inventories owned by U.S. suppliers (converters, enrichers (Table 21).

Year-end commercial 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. Total U.S. commercial inventories (including inventories owned by COOs, U.S. brokers, converters, enrichers, fabricators, producers, and traders) were 123.1 million pounds U3O8e at the end of 2020, down 6% from 130.7 million pounds at the end of 2019. Commercial uranium inventories owned at the end of 2020 by COOs totaled 107.2 million pounds U3O8e, a 5% decrease in inventories from the year-end 2019 level. Uranium inventories owned by U.S. suppliers (converters, enrichers, fabricators, producers, brokers and traders) totaled 16.0 million pounds U3O8e at the end of 2020, down 9% from 2019 year-end levels (Table 22).

Footnote

1Uranium quantities are expressed in the unit of measure U3O8e (equivalent). U3O8e is triuranium octoxide (or uranium concentrate) and the equivalent uranium-component of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) and enriched uranium.

2Separative work unit (SWU): The standard measure of enrichment services. The effort expended in separating a mass F of feed of assay xf into a mass P of product assay xp and waste of mass W and assay xw is expressed in terms of the number of separative work units needed, given by the expression SWU = WV(xw) + PV(xp) - FV(xf), where V(x) is the value function, defined as V(x) = (1 - 2x) 1n((1 - x)/x).

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Data tables and figures

Summary

Uranium purchased by owners and operators of U.S. civilian nuclear power reactors

Price mechanisms, distributions and contract types

New purchases

Future deliveries

Feed for enrichment

SWU

Loaded uranium

Foreign purchases and sales

Commercial inventories

Sellers