White Mesa Mill bolstered by possibility of increased domestic uranium purchases
A report that a White House task force has recommended the increased purchase of domestic uranium has brought renewed hope to the White Mesa Mill in Blanding, the only federally licensed uranium mill in the United States.
The possibility of orders from President Donald Trump to help revive the uranium industry was well received by investors. The stock price of Energy Fuels Inc. increased by 18 percent on December 5, the day the issue was the subject of a Bloomberg report by Ari Natter.
President Trump created the U.S. Nuclear Fuel Working Group to make recommendations on how to protect and plan for defense infrastructure needs, and to support domestic nuclear fuel supply.
The findings of the Nuclear Fuel Working Group are not yet public. However, based on the report by Bloomberg, President Donald Trump will direct the Federal Government to buy more uranium from domestic producers to boost the national uranium stockpile. This would primarily be purchases of uranium by the U.S. Department of Defense.
At the current time, approximately 90 percent of the purchases of uranium in the United States is from foreign sources, including an estimated 44 percent from Russia and its allies.
The foreign sources have flooded the United States with low cost uranium and threatened the domestic uranium industry.
Nuclear power plants provide 20 percent of electricity in the United States. In addition, the United States is mostly dependent on outside countries for uranium to power nuclear submarines and make nuclear weapons.
In June, 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce designated 35 minerals as “crucial commodities” and began the process of limiting the country’s dependence on foreign sources for these commodities. Uranium was at the top of the list, with an estimated 93 percent of uranium from foreign sources in 2107.
In July, 2019, President Trump rejected a request to place a 25 percent quota for the purchase of domestic uranium, but created the task force to study the issue.
“It’s clear that the U.S. nuclear industrial base has diminished to the point that the government must act to preserve it,” Energy Fuels President Mark Chalmers said in a statement. “The American nuclear fuel cycle needs the president’s immediate support, or we risk the loss of this critical capacity, its miners, and workers.”