More evidence arises that the world is preparing for a global nuclear renaissance: although the spot price for uranium fell, global exploration for 2007 totaled $718 million according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency. To put this number in perspective, while it might be less than the 2006 total of $774 million, it is 254 percent more than in 2004.
Australia has considerably uranium exploration; after spending only $3 million in 2002, the country spent $60 million in 2006 alone on exploration and development.
Thank goodness someone is mining uranium because the U.S. sure isn’t. Instead, it is allowing outdated bureaucracy and regulation to keep it energy dependent. Take the state of Virginia, for example. The nation’s largest known uranium deposit was discovered there in the 1980s. The owner of that land recently explored the possibility of mining the approximately $10 billion worth of uranium believed to be on the site. Despite the fact that uranium has been mined safely around the world for decades, including in New Mexico, Nebraska, Utah, and Wyoming, Virginia bureaucrats have decided to prohibit land owners from even studying the viability of mining.
There are similar stories throughout the United States.
Natural uranium is critical in the production of electricity through nuclear power. It is found throughout the world, but quantities sufficient to be mined economically are limited to a few known regions. Canada has the highest grade uranium while Australia has the most. Kazakhstan, South Africa, Niger, Namibia, and Brazil also have significant deposits. The U.S. has about 3 percent-4 percent of the world’s known uranium and produces about 4.3 percent of the world’s supply despite operating about one-quarter of the world’s commercial power reactors.
Uranium is an important and necessary component of nuclear energy, and firms choosing to pursue uranium mining should not be unnecessarily burdened by fear and government overreach. Uranium mining occurs all over the world, and the United States should realize its potential to increase America’s share of the uranium mining sector.