The world produced 53,5 million kilograms of uranium in 2010 but consumed 86.1 million kilograms. Thomas Drolet, the president of Drolet & Associates Energy Services, predicted that a uranium shortage will hit the world by 2016 according to Mineweb.com. Mineweb says the supply crunch is widely expected to begin by next year.
A nuclear expert gave uranium supply three more years - at most - before it seriously falls behind demand from the nuclear power industry. The present scenario suggests that a period of shortfall will still play out and those replacements including new reserves and other technologies will be hard put to come on-line fast enough. An expected surge in demand for uranium to fuel new reactors may go unfilled if new supply does not soon come on stream, meaning a setback for China, the United States and other countries that are increasingly relying on nuclear energy to power their economies.
Spot uranium prices have risen from $45 a pound in mid-2010 to over $70 earlier last year. Analysts say the time is right for big uranium companies to make acquisitions. In 2010, the world needed about 65,000 tonnes of uranium to power its 433 operating reactors. But globally, only 53,663 tonnes were mined in 2010 and 10,600 tonnes — came from weapons repurposing via an agreement between the United States and Russia. There are 433 working reactors already in existence, 62 under construction, 156 planned, and 343 proposed. Japan has idled most of its 50 nuclear reactors in the wake of Fukushima but experts now warn that the country would have no choice but to bring online at least 30 of the reactors or suffer brutal economic consequences.
Featured image: Mongolian uranium mmine (Credit: MongolNews)