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Wednesday, Jun 12, 2024
Mugglehead Magazine
Alternative investment news based in Vancouver, B.C.

Mining

The United States Senate cuts off Russian uranium imports

US nuclear company Westinghouse has played a central role in the US’ effort to shift countries away from Russian nuclear dependencies

The United States Senate cuts off Russian uranium imports
The United States Senate floor. Image via The United States senate.

The United States Senate passed a bill banning low-enriched uranium (LEU) imports from Russia or by a Russian entity.

Passed on Tuesday, the bill will now go to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. The bill also bans importing unirradiated low-enriched uranium LEU which had been exchanged for the prohibited uranium or received in a way intended to circumvent the restrictions laid out in the ban, according to the summary information from the US Senate.

However, the Department of Energy (DOE) may waive this prohibition if it determines that there is no viable alternative source of LEU available, and its required to sustain a nuclear reactor in the US or of a US nuclear energy company. The waiver allows for importing a limited amount of uranium.

The ban will take effect 90 days after President Biden’s signing and will expire in 2040.

“I have fought for years to end America’s reliance on Russian nuclear fuel. Our efforts have finally paid off with passage of our bill to ban these imports once and for all,” said John Barraso, a republican senator from Wyoming.

“Wyoming has the uranium to replace Russian imports, and we are ready to use it. Our bipartisan legislation will help defund Russia’s war machine, revive American uranium production, and jumpstart investments in America’s nuclear fuel supply chain.”

US nuclear company Westinghouse has played a central role in the US’ effort to shift countries away from Russian nuclear dependencies. In April, Westinghouse and the Ukrainian state-owned utility Energoatom began constructing the first AP1000 reactor in Western Ukraine, where the existing reactors are Soviet-era VVER (water-water energetic reactor) models.

Read more: ATHA enters C$8M option agreement with Inspiration Energy for Saskatchewan assets

Read more: ATHA completes 92 Energy acquisition; prepares for drill program at Gemini project in Q3

Uranium production may move even more towards Canada

Western nations have actively seeking to reduce their reliance on Russian nuclear fuel since the war in Ukraine started. This legislation is the first formal implementation of such measures.

Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the United States banned Russian oil imports and instituted a price cap on some exports of Russian crude and oil products. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. nuclear power plants imported around 12 per cent of their uranium from Russia in 2022.

The United States imports a significant portion of the uranium it uses for nuclear power, and Canada is one of its major suppliers. As of 2023, according to the U.S. Energy Administration, Canada is the presently the largest source of uranium for the US, accounting for around 27 per cent of total purchases, with Kazakhstan coming in a close second with 25 per cent.

However, given the recent flooding issues with Kazakhstan and the time required to revive America’s uranium production, it could lead in both the short and medium term to an increased reliance on Canadian sources of uranium. Cameco Corporation (NYSE: CCO) (TSX: CCJ) has already been tapped to meet the shortfall, but there’s a strong probability that production issues may spread the effects of the shortfall out to other companies. A few of these include NexGen Energy (TSX: NXE) (NYSE: NXE) (ASX: NXG), Skyharbour Resources Ltd (TSXV: SYH) (OTCQX: SYHBF) (Frankfurt: SC1P) and Atha Energy Corp (TSXV: SASK) (FRA: X5U) (OTCQB: SASKF).

Specifically, ATHA has pushed out beyond its immense land package in the Athabasca Basin in Saskatchewan to include uranium deposits in Nunavut.

 

ATHA Energy Corp. is a sponsor of Mugglehead news coverage

 

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