Comment & People

Uranium Oversupply May Not Last Forever, Warns IAEA’s Amano

By David Dalton
25 June 2018

25 Jun (NucNet): Identified uranium resources are sufficient for well over 100 years of supply, but the current oversupply may not last for ever and it is important that this “vital resource” is mined, produced and managed sustainably, International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Yukiya Amano told the opening of a meeting on the uranium production cycle today.

Mr Amano told the International Symposium on Uranium Raw Material for the Nuclear Fuel Cycle that it is also essential to take full account of environmental concerns, both to ensure public acceptance today and to avoid troubling legacy issues in the future.

Delegates at the Vienna meeting are discussing the latest research and technologies related to the development of new uranium sources, and the technical, economic, environmental, safety and social aspects of uranium exploration and mining.

Mr Amano said he believes it will be difficult for the world to meet the twin challenges of securing sufficient energy and limiting the average global temperature increase to two degrees centigrade in the coming decades without making more use of nuclear power.

IAEA projections show that nuclear power’s global potential up to 2050 remains high, but its expansion is expected to slow in the coming years.

Mr Amano said promising work is underway on new generations of nuclear power reactors that require less uranium, including some types of small, medium-sized or modular reactors. Some countries are interested in the thorium fuel cycle.

“However, for the foreseeable future, most new nuclear power technologies will still run, wholly or partially, on uranium,” he said.

He said there are 451 commercial nuclear power reactors in operation in 30 countries. Another 58 reactors are under construction, mostly in Asia. Some 30 countries are considering introducing nuclear power.

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