Uranium Resources for a Century


"Worldwide uranium resources, production and demand are increasing."

Worldwide uranium resources, production and demand are all increasing, according to the latest edition of the Red Book. However, total identified uranium resources will last for over 100 years at current consumption rates.

The amount of uranium identified that can be economically mined rose to some 6.3 million tons, a 15.5% increase compared with the last edition of Uranium 2009: Resources, Production and Demand—commonly known as the Red Book—published every two years by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The high-cost category (under $100 per pound of U3O8) was reintroduced into the new edition of the Red Book for the first time since the 1980s in response to the generally increased market prices for uranium in recent years (despite the decline since mid-2007), as well as increasing mining costs and expectations of increasing demand as new nuclear power plants are being planned and constructed.

The NEA commented: "Although total identified resources have increased overall, there has been a significant reduction in lower-cost resources owing to increased mining costs."

IAEA projections for the future of nuclear power see it expanding from 375 GWe today to between 500 and 785 GWe by 2035. Such growth would cause an increase in uranium demand from 66,500 tons per year to between 87,370 and 138,165 tons.

"Even in the high-growth scenario to 2035, less than half of the identified resources described in this edition would be consumed," the NEA concluded. "The challenge remains to develop mines in a timely and environmentally sustainable fashion as uranium demand increases. A strong market will be required for these resources to be developed within the time frame required to meet future uranium demand."

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