Agreement finalised to reduce US reliance on uranium from Russia
Mining News Pro - The governments of the US and Russia have finalised a deal extending the limits of uranium imports from Russia for another 20 years, a move which US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross says will help revitalise the domestic nuclear industry.
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The final amendment to the agreement suspending the antidumping investigation on uranium from Russia now extends through 2040. It was previously set to expire on December 31, 2020, which would have resulted in unchecked imports of Russian uranium.

“This landmark agreement will contribute to the revitalisation of American nuclear industry, while promoting America’s long-term strategic interests,” said Ross in a statement on Tuesday.

The Commerce Department pointed out that the amendment was unchanged from a draft amendment released for public comment on September 11.

The amendment was one of the recommendations made by the Nuclear Fuel Working Group to address concern that the US has ceded its global leadership in nuclear technology, and to boost domestic nuclear power producers and uranium miners suffering from a lack of investment.

US President Donald Trump created the working group in 2019, after rejecting a request by uranium miners seeking quotas for domestic production to protect them against foreign competition.

The amendment would not only extend the timeframe for limits on Russian imports, but also reduce volumes. Prior to the amendment, the agreement allowed Russian uranium exports to meet about 20% of US enrichment demand. Under the amended agreement, this figure would drop to an average of 17% over the next 20 years, and would be no higher than 15% starting in 2028.

The Commerce Department noted that extending and reducing the agreement’s export limits, the final amendment would enable the US commercial enrichment industry to compete on fair terms.

Previously, the agreement also allowed Russia to use its entire export quota for the sale of not only enrichment, but also natural uranium and conversion. The amended agreement would allow only a portion of the export quota to be used for the sale of natural uranium and conversion from Russia. On average, this portion would be equivalent to about 7% of US enrichment demand, and no higher than 5% starting in 2026.

The new agreement would also fix “returned feed” provisions in the existing agreement that the Commerce Department said prejudiced US uranium miners and the US converter.

Finally, the department stated that the limits in the agreement were structured to enable the vast majority of contracts that US companies entered into to purchase uranium from Russia prior to, and around the time that, it started negotiations to extend the agreement beyond 2020.

US uranium miner Energy Fuels president and CEO Mark Chalmers said the company was pleased that the Commerce Department was able to reduce uranium and nuclear fuel imports into the US from Russia over the long term, which should eliminate the specter of more State-owned imports entering Trump`s executive order on critical minerals.

He believed that last week`s executive order declaring an emergency in the mining industry, and directing the Interior Department to explore using the Defense Production Act to hasten the development of mines, was "tangible support" for producers and processors of critical minerals, including uranium, vanadium and rare earth elements.


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