The Uranium Producers of America (UPA) have issued a statement calling on the Department of Energy (DOE) to stop transferring excess uranium from federal inventory until the oversupplied uranium market recovers. It said the sale by the DOE of inventory into a market that is oversupplied, and with persistent low uranium prices, is impacting both the uranium market and the domestic uranium industry.
UPA said DOE sells more than 5m pounds U3O8 (1,923 tU) a year, which is more than double the uranium production expected this year. Proceeds from the sale are used to fund the cleanup of legacy federal government nuclear facilities, such as the former Paducah and Portsmouth uranium enrichment plants.
UPA president Harry Anthony said. "While we recognize these cleanup projects are important, they should be funded in the regular appropriations process, and the Department of Energy should cease further uranium transfers until the market recovers."
The DOE's uranium inventory includes surplus highly enriched uranium, natural uranium and low-enriched uranium, but it is dominated by depleted uranium tails from historic uranium enrichment activities which can be re-enriched for use in nuclear fuel. The DOE's 2008 excess uranium inventory management plan undertakes to dispose of the material through sales or transfers of uranium based on a combined annual quantity of no more than 10% of annual US nuclear fuel requirements. According to the UPA, the USA currently imports almost 95% of the uranium it needs to fuel its reactors.
The UPA was formed in 1985 to promote a "sustainable and strong domestic uranium mining and conversion industry by fostering free and fair competition while being environmentally sensitive to the communities in which we live and work". Its eight member companies are AUC, Cameco Resources, ConverDyn, Energy Fuels, Uranium Energy Corporation, Uranium One, Ur Energy and General Atomics' Rio Grande Resources. Cameco recently announced a cut back in production in face of the depressed market conditions.