The U.S. Geological Survey has suggested that uranium be removed from the national list of critical minerals. The draft list of critical minerals published by the agency in the Federal Register earlier in September of this year highlights 50 minerals that have been deemed essential to ecoomic security and national defense.
Uranium is a radioactive metal mainly used as fuel for nuclear power plants. The metal had been excluded from the draft list of minerals, together with strontium, rhenium, helium and potash. However, it was included in the initial critical minerals list, which was issued in 2018 and sanctioned by former President Donald Trump.
The new list from the agency added two minerals — zinc and nickel — as they are essential in the manufacture of batteries for electric cars. The agency stated in the notice that it excluded uranium from the draft as the 2020 Energy Act required that the critical minerals list refrain from including minerals linked to fuel from being defined as critical minerals. The 1970 Mining and Mineral Policy Act defines the metal as a mineral fuel, which is why uranium wasn’t included in the agency’s analysis.
Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo stated that updating the list would give information to scientists, economists, policymakers and industry representatives on the most essential minerals when it came to supply chains in the United States. Trujillo added that information and statistics were important in helping understand the United States’ vulnerability to disturbances in the critical mineral supply chain, noting that this information included data on the global demand and supply for materials and minerals important to America’s national security and economy.
The uranium industry in the United States has taken a hit since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan occurred over a decade ago, sparking international political backlash against the operation of nuclear power plants. This disaster caused the supply of uranium to increase in the markets and with the demand low, prices sank even further, making it hard to operate uranium mines in America.
While there are those who believe that this exclusion of uranium from the critical minerals list would hurt climate policy efforts in the U.S., some Democratic legislators and environmental groups who opposed its initial inclusion in the list assert that uranium’s status as a source of fuel disqualifies it by law.
It would be interesting to hear what uranium extraction companies such as Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) think about the mid- to long-term implications of removing uranium from the U.S. list of critical minerals.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://ibn.fm/UUUU
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