The Uranium Committee of the Energy Minerals Division of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists just released their draft 2020 Annual Report last week and the prices and supplies of uranium look pretty good.
Uranium has outperformed major commodities this year, even as the energy sector has suffered from the coronavirus pandemic. A significant rise in uranium prices has been underway since the pandemic began, up to $34 from $24 per pound of U3O8, a price that had been pretty stable for over a year.
Because uranium produces so much power from so little mass, the price of uranium itself has little effect on the price of nuclear power. The cost of nuclear fuel itself also has little effect since the manufacturing of the fuel is so much more expensive than the U that goes into it.
The Uranium Committee monitors the global uranium industry activities, rare earth metals, and the production of electricity from nuclear power, because these drive uranium exploration and development in the United States and overseas. [Full Disclosure – I am a member of the Committee’s Advisory Group.]
Modern technological societies require a lot of rare metals, such as lithium, cobalt, vanadium and neodymium, and uranium if you have nuclear power. In fact, there are 35 minerals that are critical to our society. Unfortunately, we don’t produce many of them in the United States, but are dependent on other countries like China for our supply.
This has been a recognized problem for years, but has become especially worrisome after this this pandemic has shown the flimsiness of our supply chains.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) re-introduced her American Mineral Security Act specifically to strengthen those efforts. The bill, which was somewhat bipartisan, attempts to rebuild the domestic mineral supply chain through geological surveying, forecasting, workforce training, research and development, recycling, and a more efficient permitting process.
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