Figures show that the global production of uranium will recover by more than 3% this year, owing to the resumption of operations at Canada’s Cigar Lake mine as well as other mines that were suspended last year. In addition, while the mineral’s production in Australia will continue to decrease because of the halt in operations at the Ranger mine, Russia and Kazakhstan will record significant increases in their output.
In the recent past, international production has been limited, primarily because of a slow uranium market, which was affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, global uranium production decreased by more than 9%, with the most notable declines being observed in Kazakhstan and Canada. These two countries produce a combined 60% of the mineral globally.
In March last year, operations at the Cigar Lake mine, which makes up roughly 13% of global production, were suspended until September in an attempt to prevent the virus from spreading.
After resuming operations, mining was again suspended in December 2020 due to the increased risk of coronavirus infections; in April of this year, the mine finally reopened again. This move will boost the supply of uranium from Canada. Kazakhstan also decreased activities at its uranium mines for more than four months at the height of the pandemic last year. These were not the only countries affected by the pandemic as countries such as South Africa, Namibia and Australia also imposed restrictions.
Projections show that between 2021 and 2025, the global production of uranium will grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 6%, reaching more than 65kt by the year 2025. Kazakhstan is expected to remain the biggest supplier of the mineral globally as it holds some of the biggest uranium deposits in the world. Namibia, which has open-pit uranium mines, may also be among the main suppliers of uranium to the international markets.
Many believe the early implementation of safety measures reduced the effect of the pandemic on the international nuclear industry and allowed for operations to continue with minimal disruptions.
As more governments incorporate nuclear energy into their plans to attain climate goals, optimism surrounding the international nuclear industry continues to rise.
A good example would be the United States, which is currently the biggest producer of nuclear energy globally, with Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR) being the largest U.S. producer of this energy-dense mineral. The country is currently debating on whether it shouls extend the operating life of its plants to a hundred years.
The European Union as well as countries such as South Korea and Japan also updated their climate change policies last year, with many anticipating an increase in demand for nuclear energy in the near future.
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