Uranium Demand Set to Outpace Supply

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"The report also projects a 78% growth in annual uranium demand over the two decades. . ."

Despite the spot price of uranium dropping yet another dollar to $45 per pound, recent reports from the World Nuclear Association (WNA), the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) and industry consultant UxC show that uranium demand is set to outpace uranium supply in the coming decade.

China and India will be the main drivers behind rising demand levels as together they have 28 reactors currently operating, 22 under construction and 58 new reactors expected to come on line over the next eight years, according to the WNA.

The WNA's latest report, The Global Nuclear Fuel Market Supply and Demand 2009-2030, sees a best case scenario of a 558 GWe in world nuclear capacity by 2020 and 818 GWe by 2030.

Uranium mine production has fallen below western demand since the mid-1980s, says World Nuclear News; but so far, secondary supplies from inventories, stockpile drawdowns and recycled materials have made up the difference. But as demand increases in energy hungry nations like China and India, primary production from mines needs to pick up the pace dramatically.

"Uranium production needs to increase dramatically from its current level," said Cameco's Penny Buye, co-chair of the WNA report's drafting group.

The IAEA has also updated its annual projections for global nuclear power capacity. Both its low- and high-end forecasts for 2030 are much higher than last year's projections. At the low end, the agency sees worldwide nuclear capacity at about 510 GWe and the high projection is at 810 GWe.

Ux Consulting has also published a report forecasting worldwide nuclear growth through 2030. The Nuclear Power Outlook (NPO) report highlights "dramatic growth" in nuclear power usage in China, India, Russia and other regions over the next 20 years.

According to the NPO, there are currently 435 reactors with a capacity of 370 GWe in 31 countries and 55 reactors are now under construction in 12 countries. By 2015, Ux forecasts a total of 492 reactors (428 GWe total capacity) in 31 countries, 568 reactors (517 GWe) in 42 countries by 2020 and 697 reactors (702 GWe) in 52 countries by 2030.

The report also projects a 78% growth in annual uranium demand over the two decades from today's level of 183 million pounds to 325 million by 2030.

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