[ RadSafe ] MIT: Lack of fuel may limit US nuclear power expansion

Jaro jaro-10kbq at sympatico.ca
Wed Mar 21 19:22:34 CDT 2007

Further on this subject.....

Uranium is a hot commodity
survey: Expenditures UP. More than 350 projects under way across Canada
LYNN MOORE, The Gazette, Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Uranium is re-emerging as a star mineral commodity, according to the latest
survey of mineral exploration and mine development expenditures compiled by
Natural Resources Canada.

Uranium-related expenditures doubled from 2005, reaching $190 million in
2006, with more than 350 projects under way across Canada, according to the

And indications are that exploration expenditures for all mineral and metal
commodities will approach $2 billion in 2007.

The Survey of Mineral Exploration, Deposit Appraisal and Mine Complex
Development Expenditures reviewed 2006 preliminary estimates and 2007
spending intentions of about 734 project operators.

In 2006, total expenditures reached $1.7 billion, up 32 per cent from $1.3
billion in 2005. Sustained high commodity prices and a favourable investment
climate contributed to those total expenditures surpassing $1 billion for
four consecutive years, the report said.

Nickel prices increased by more than 150 per cent in 2006, zinc by more than
125 per cent and uranium by nearly 100 per cent. Gold and silver were up by
nearly 20 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively.

Spending intentions for operations in Quebec during 2007 are pegged at just
over $293 million. Preliminary estimates for 2006 spending is about $260
million, up from $205 million in 2005.

Junior exploration companies continue to be a major force in the sector, the
survey found.

Total expenditures for junior project operators have increased from $14
million in 1999 to $1.1 billion in 2006. And juniors are now responsible for
more than 60 per cent of the total exploration and deposit appraisal

Expenditures for each commodity group, except coal, increased over 2005.

In 2006, all jurisdictions, except Manitoba, saw increases in expenditures,
with the largest gains being experienced in Saskatchewan - the leading
jurisdiction for uranium expenditures - British Columbia and Quebec.

lmoore at thegazette.canwest.com

-----Original Message-----
From: radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl [mailto:radsafe-bounces at radlab.nl]On
Sent: Wednesday, March 21, 2007 8:14 PM
To: radsafe at radlab.nl
Subject: [ RadSafe ] MIT: Lack of fuel may limit US nuclear power

  Public release date: 21-Mar-2007

Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson at mit.edu
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  MIT: Lack of fuel may limit US nuclear power expansion    CAMBRIDGE,
Mass.--Limited supplies of fuel for nuclear power plants may thwart the
renewed and growing interest in nuclear energy in the United States and
other nations, says an MIT expert on the industry.
  Over the past 20 years, safety concerns dampened all aspects of
development of nuclear energy: No new reactors were ordered and there was
investment neither in new uranium mines nor in building facilities to
produce fuel for existing reactors. Instead, the industry lived off
commercial and government inventories, which are now nearly gone. worldwide,
uranium production meets only about 65 percent of current reactor
  That shortage of uranium and of processing facilities worldwide leaves a
gap between the potential increase in demand for nuclear energy and the
ability to supply fuel for it, said Dr. Thomas Neff, a research affiliate at
MIT's Center for International Studies.
  “Just as large numbers of new reactors are being planned, we are only
starting to emerge from 20 years of underinvestment in the production
capacity for the nuclear fuel to operate them. There has been a nuclear
industry myopia; they didn't take a long-term view,” Neff said. For example,
only a few years ago uranium inventories were being sold at $10 per pound;
the current price is $85 per pound.
  Neff has been giving a series of talks at industry meetings and investment
conferences around the world about the nature of the fuel supply problem and
its implications for the so-called “nuclear renaissance,” pointing out both
the sharply rising cost of nuclear fuel and the lack of capacity to produce
  Currently, much of the uranium used by the United States is coming from
mines in such countries as Australia, Canada, Namibia, and, most recently,
Kazakhstan. Small amounts are mined in the western United States, but the
United States is largely reliant on overseas supplies. The United States
also relies for half its fuel on Russia under a “swords to ploughshares”
deal that Neff originated in 1991. This deal is converting about 20,000
Russian nuclear weapons to fuel for U.S. nuclear power plants, but it ends
in 2013, leaving a substantial supply gap for the United States.
  Further, China, India, and even Russia have plans for massive deployments
of nuclear power and are trying to lock up supplies from countries on which
the United States has traditionally relied. As a result, the United States
could be the “last one to buy, and it could pay the highest prices, if it
can get uranium at all,” Neff said. “The take-home message is that if we're
going to increase use of nuclear power, we need massive new investments in
capacity to mine uranium and facilities to process it.”
  Mined uranium comes in several forms, or isotopes. For starting a nuclear
chain reaction in a reactor, the only important isotope is uranium-235,
which accounts for JUST 7 out of 1000 atoms in the mined product. To fuel a
nuclear reactor, the concentration of uranium-235 has to be increased to 40
to 50 out of 1000 atoms. This is done by separating isotopes in an
enrichment plant to achieve the higher concentration.
  As Neff points out, reactor operators could increase the amount of fuel
made from a given amount of natural uranium by buying more enrichment
services to recover more uranium-235 atoms. Current enrichment capacity is
enough to recover only about 4 out of 7 uranium-235 atoms. Limited uranium
supplies could be stretched if industry could recover 5 or 6 of these atoms,
but there is not enough processing capacity worldwide to do so.


TV dinner still cooling?
Check out "Tonight's Picks" on Yahoo! TV.
You are currently subscribed to the RadSafe mailing list

Before posting a message to RadSafe be sure to have read and understood the
RadSafe rules. These can be found at:

For information on how to subscribe or unsubscribe and other settings visit:

No virus found in this incoming message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.5.446 / Virus Database: 268.18.16/729 - Release Date: 3/21/2007
7:52 AM

No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.5.446 / Virus Database: 268.18.16/729 - Release Date: 3/21/2007
7:52 AM

More information about the RadSafe mailing list