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US uranium miners petition for relief

America’s two biggest uranium producers have filed a 104-page petition asking president Donald Trump to protect the domestic industry from subsidised foreign imports, saying it was vital for national security.
US uranium miners petition for relief US uranium miners petition for relief US uranium miners petition for relief US uranium miners petition for relief US uranium miners petition for relief

The petition’s chart shows the 30-year decline of the US uranium industry

Staff reporter

Energy Fuels (US:UUUU) and Ur-Energy (US:URG) are seeking a quota to reserve 25% of the US nuclear market for domestically-produced uranium, and a Buy America policy for US government agencies that utilise uranium.

"It is essential that the president impose the measures requested in this petition to preserve our domestic uranium industry, the first stage of the US commercial nuclear fuel cycle and a critical contributor to the nation's national security and energy independence," the petition concluded.

The pair said US uranium production levels fell to near-historic lows in 2017 and were expected to fall further in 2018, due in "large part" to uranium and nuclear fuel imported from state-subsidised foreign entities.

They said domestic production accounted for less than 5% of US demand and imports from state-owned and state-subsidised enterprises in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan fulfilled nearly 40%.

The pair submitted the Section 232 petition to the US Department of Commerce, seeking relief under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

Once the department starts an investigation, it has 270 days to prepare a report for the president, who then has 90 days to act on the recommendations.

Baobab Asset Management's Russell Fryer said the petition could have "profound positive effects" on the US uranium mining industry.

He said given US reactors consumed about 50 million pounds of uranium a year, if the 25% "Buy America" recommendation was acted on it would represent about 12.5Mlb/year, a greater amount than US mines' current annual production of about 2.7Mlb.

"This delta of 9.8Mlb is material in the USA uranium sector production output, and default, pricing," he said.

Ur-Energy operates the Lost Creek in-situ recovery facility in Wyoming and sold 780,000lb of uranium in 2017, based on 261,000lb from Lost Creek production and the remainder purchased and delivered into contractual obligations.

Energy Fuels has the US's only operating conventional uranium mill and also operates the Nichols Ranch in-situ facility in Wyoming. The company expected to produce 640,000-665,000lb in 2017.