A New Review On World Uranium Resources,
Production And Demand
In the past several years, the world uranium market has been marked by
persistent uncertainty affecting both uranium producers and consumers
world-wide. With world nuclear capacity expanding and uranium production
satisfying only about 60 per cent of demand, uranium stockpiles continue
to be depleted at a high rate. The uncertainty related to the remaining
levels of world uranium stockpiles and to the amount of surplus defence
material that will be entering the market makes it difficult to determine
when a closer balance between uranium supply and demand will be reached.
This is one of
the major findings of the just published report Uranium: Resources,
Production and Demand (also known as the "Red Book"), jointly
prepared by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This world report, the foremost reference
on uranium, is based on official information from 59 countries and
includes compilations of statistics on resources, exploration, production
and demand as of 1 January 1997.
As of 1 January
1997, the world Known Conventional Resources recoverable at $130 per kilogram
of uranium, or less, amounted to some 4.3 million tU (tonnes
of Uranium). Total Reasonably Assured Resources (RAR) recoverable
at $80/kgU or less were about 2.3 million tU.
Although the amount
of exploration activities was still quite low compared with the early
1980s, exploration expenditures increased in 18 of the 26 reporting
countries. Currently, most exploration activities (accounting for
83 per cent of expenditures) are taking place in Australia, Canada,
Egypt, India, the Russian Federation, the United States and Uzbekistan,
and to a lesser extent in France, Gabon, Mongolia and Romania.
production increased to 36 200 tU in 1996, up 9 per cent
from 1995. In 1996, twenty-three countries produced uranium, including
Germany which recovered uranium in association with its industry closure
programme. The ten major producers (Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan, Namibia,
Niger, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Ukraine, USA and Uzbekistan)
contributed about 90 per cent of the output.
A projection of
world uranium production capability through 2015 is provided in the report.
The uranium production will undergo considerable change over the
1997-2005 period. Until 2000, the plant capacity utilisation is
expected to remain at about 85 per cent, representing about 70 per
cent of 1996 requirements. With the expected closure of some facilities
after 2000, the remaining existing and committed capability by 2015 corresponds
to less than 50 per cent of projected requirements.
World annual reactor-related
requirements of nuclear power plants in 1996 were estimated at about 60 500
tonnes of natural uranium equivalent. World reactor-related uranium
requirements are projected to increase to between 62 500 tonnes
and 82 800 tonnes by 2015, depending on the level of world nuclear
capacity reached at that time.
The report also
notes that concerns about longer term security of supply of fossil fuels
and the heightened awareness that nuclear power plants are environmentally
clean with respect to acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions might contribute
to even higher than projected growth in uranium demand over the long-term.
In particular, the increasing importance of the debate on greenhouse
gases and global warming could increase public acceptance of nuclear power
as a valid alternative within the framework of long-term sustainable development.
The report provides
substantial new information from all of the major uranium producing centres
in Africa, Australia, Eastern Europe, North America and the New Independent
States, including the first-ever official reports on uranium production
in Estonia, Mongolia, the Russian Federation and Uzbekistan. It
also contains an international expert analysis of industry statistics
and world-wide projections of nuclear energy growth, uranium requirements
and uranium supply.
News Media Contact:
PRODUCTION AND DEMAND"
OECD, Paris, 1998
FF 470, £ 48, US$ 79, DM 140, ¥