Owners and operators of U.S. civilian nuclear power reactors (civilian owner/operators, or COOs) purchased a total of 48 million pounds U3O8e (equivalent) of deliveries from U.S. suppliers and foreign suppliers during 2019, at a weighted-average price of $35.59 per pound U3O8e. The 2019 total of 48 million pounds U3O8e was 20% higher than the 2018 total of 40 million pounds U3O8e. The 2019 weighted-average price of $35.59 per pound U3O8e was 8% lower than the 2018 weighted-average price of $38.81 per pound U3O8e (Table 1).
Similar to recent years, the vast majority of uranium delivered in 2019 was of foreign-origin. Uranium originating in Kazakhstan, Russia, and Uzbekistan accounted for 42% of total uranium purchased by U.S. COOs in 2019. Canadian-origin uranium and Australian-originan uranium together accounted for 39% (Table 3).
COOs purchased three material types of uranium for 2019 deliveries from 35 sellers, one less seller than in 2018 (Table 4, Table 24). During 2019, 22% of the uranium delivered was purchased under spot contracts at a weighted-average price of $27.89 per pound. The remaining 78% was purchased under long-term contracts at a weighted-average price of $37.73 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.
In 2019, COOs signed 34 new purchase contracts with deliveries in 2019 of 8.0 million pounds U3O8e at a weighted-average price of $26.34 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 2019, the maximum uranium deliveries for 2020 through 2029 under existing purchase contracts for COOs totaled 181 million pounds U3O8e (Table 10). Also at the end of 2019, unfilled uranium market requirements for 2020 through 2029 totaled 207 million pounds U3O8e (Table 11). These contracted deliveries and unfilled market requirements combined represent the maximum anticipated market requirements of 388 million pounds U3O8e over the next 10 years for COOs.
In 2019, COOs delivered 38 million pounds U3O8e of natural uranium feed to U.S. and foreign enrichers. U.S. enrichment suppliers received 51% of the feed, and the remaining 49% was delivered to foreign enrichment suppliers (Table 13). Thirteen million separative work units (SWU) were purchased under enrichment services contracts from 12 sellers in 2019, one less than in 2018 (Table 16, Table 25). The average price paid by the COOs for the 13 million SWU was $109.54 per SWU in 2019, compared with the 2018 average price of $115.42 per SWU. In 2019, the U.S.-origin SWU share was 40%, and the foreign-origin SWU accounted for the remaining 60%. Foreign-origin SWU included 23% from Russia, 10% from both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom and 9% from Germany (Table 16).
Uranium in fuel assemblies loaded into U.S. civilian nuclear power reactors during 2019 contained 43.2 million pounds U3O8, compared with 50.4 million pounds U3O8e loaded during 2018. During 2019, 9% of the uranium loaded during 2019 was U.S.-origin uranium, and 91% was foreign-origin uranium (Table 18).
U.S. suppliers (brokers, converters, enrichers, fabricators, producers, and traders) and COOs purchase uranium each year from foreign suppliers. Together, foreign purchases totaled 42.9 million pounds U3O8e in 2019, and the weighted-average price was $34.77 per pound U3O8e (Table 19). U.S. suppliers and COOs also sold uranium to foreign suppliers. Together, foreign sales totaled 11.7 million pounds U3O8e in 2019, and the weighted-average price was $27.16 per pound U3O8e (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 127.1 million pounds U3O8e at the end of 2019, down 3% from 130.5 million pounds at the end of 2018. Commercial uranium inventories owned at the end of 2019 by COOs totaled 112.8 million pounds U3O8e, a 1% increase in inventories from the year-end 2018 level. Uranium inventories owned by U.S. suppliers (converters, enrichers, fabricators, producers, brokers and traders) totaled 14.3 million pounds U3O8e at the end of 2019, down 26% from 2018 year-end levels (Table 22).
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).