China is making leaps and bounds to become a major supplier to the US and global nuclear fuel market, highlighted a report by the US Department of Commerce (USDOC).
In this regard, the document warns, the entry of China’s state nuclear fuel companies as potential players in this global industry will further intensify the pressure on producers of market economies in Canada, Australia, Europe and the United States.
This is a report on the effect of uranium imports on the national security of the United States: an investigation conducted under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended.
By 2020, he adds, China would have had enrichment capacity beyond its domestic needs.
US utilities have reported purchases of uranium concentrate and enrichment services from companies controlled by China in the period 2014-2018.
China provided 2% of the enrichment services contracts of US utilities during this period and is expected to supply even more in the coming years.
Overall, the USDOC argues, the off-market business practices of the uranium industries of Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China continue to erode America’s uranium mining and processing capacity.
«Import competition from state-owned uranium companies has caused significant atrophy in the United States uranium infrastructure to the point where the production levels of front-line companies are no longer economically sustainable,» he warns immediately.
Between 2014 and 2018, Australia and Canada provided an average of 52% of the uranium concentrate needs of US nuclear power generators; Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, 25%, and the rest of Namibia (8.4%), Niger (2.5%), South Africa (2.2%), Malawi (1.4%), China (0.3%) and Russia (0.2%).
The USDOC notes that between 2014 and 2018, an average of 24.2% of the uranium concentrate provided by Australian and Canadian companies to US nuclear power generators was originally sourced from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
In the same period, 20% of enrichment services purchased by US utilities came from Russia.
While a significant portion of imports come from Australia and Canada, non-commercial practices by state-owned companies have similarly impaired the financial operations of uranium producers in these countries and threaten their continued ability to supply uranium mined in Australia. or Canada to the US market, according to the USDOC.
Among the leading uranium producing companies in the world are: Kazatomprom, Cameco, Orano, Uranium One, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) & China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) and ARMZ Uranium Holding.