Owners and operators of U.S. civilian nuclear power reactors (civilian owner/operators, or COOs) purchased a total of 46.7 million pounds U3O8e (equivalent1) of deliveries from U.S. suppliers and foreign suppliers during 2021, at a weighted-average price of $33.91 per pound U3O8e. The 2021 total of 46.7 million pounds U3O8e was 4% lower than the 2020 total of 48.9 million pounds U3O8e. The 2021 weighted-average price of $33.91 per pound U3O8e was 2% higher than the 2020 weighted-average price of $33.27 per pound U3O8e (Table 1).
The vast majority of uranium delivered in 2021 was of foreign-origin with Kazakhstan the top source at 35% of total deliveries. Canadian-origin material accounted for the second-most material at 14.8% of total and Australia third with 14.4% of total deliveries (Table 3).
COOs purchased three material types of uranium for 2021 deliveries from 32 sellers (Table 4, Table 24). During 2021, 19% of the uranium delivered was purchased under spot contracts at a weighted-average price of $30.56 per pound. The remaining 81% was purchased under long-term contracts at a weighted-average price of $34.71 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 2021, COOs signed 27 new purchase contracts with deliveries in 2021 of 3.6 million pounds U3O8e at a weighted-average price of $32.53 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 2021, the maximum uranium deliveries for 2022 through 2031 under existing purchase contracts for COOs totaled 180 million pounds U3O8e (Table 10). Also at the end of 2021, unfilled uranium market requirements for 2022 through 2031 totaled 182 million pounds U3O8e (Table 11). These contracted deliveries and unfilled market requirements combined represent the maximum anticipated market requirements of 362 million pounds U3O8e over the next 10 years for COOs.
In 2021, COOs delivered 34 million pounds U3O8e of natural uranium feed to U.S. and foreign enrichers. U.S. enrichment suppliers received 43% of the feed, and the remaining 57% was delivered to foreign enrichment suppliers (Table 13). Fourteen million separative work units (SWU)2 were purchased under enrichment services contracts from 11 sellers in 2021 (Table 16, Table 25). The average price paid by the COOs for the 14 million SWU was $99.54 per SWU in 2021, with both quantity and price virtually identical to 2020. In 2021, the U.S.-origin SWU share was 19%, and the foreign-origin SWU accounted for the remaining 81%. Foreign-origin SWU included 28% from Russia, 17% from the United Kingdom, 13% from Germany and 11% from the Netherlands (Table 16).
Uranium in fuel assemblies loaded into U.S. civilian nuclear power reactors during 2021 contained 44.4 million pounds U3O8e, compared with 48.6 million pounds U3O8e loaded during 2020. During 2021, 7% of the uranium loaded was U.S.-origin uranium and 93% 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 41.3 million pounds U3O8e in 2021, and the weighted-average price was $33.26 per pound U3O8e (Table 19). U.S. suppliers and COOs also sold uranium to foreign suppliers. Together, foreign sales totaled 7.5 million pounds U3O8e in 2021, and the weighted-average price was $35.82 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 141.7 million pounds U3O8e at the end of 2021, up 8% from 131 million pounds at the end of 2020. Commercial uranium inventories owned at the end of 2021 by COOs totaled 108.5 million pounds U3O8e, a 2% increase in inventories from the year-end 2020 level. Uranium inventories owned by U.S. suppliers (converters, enrichers, fabricators, producers, brokers and traders) totaled 33.2 million pounds U3O8e at the end of 2021, up 37% from 2020 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).