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Bloomberg learned about the plans of the White House to investigate the supply of uranium to the US

19.07.2018
Economy, USA

The administration of Donald Trump plans to initiate an investigation into foreign uranium suppliers to find out whether the import of this metal harms US national security, Bloomberg reports citing three informed sources.
Later on Wednesday, July 18, the US Department of Commerce announced the beginning of such an investigation.

It will affect the entire industry: from mining uranium to enriching and consuming it in the defense complex and industry, the US Department of Commerce said. "The consumption of our own uranium in the military industry and electric power industry has collapsed from 49 to 5%," said US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (his words appear in the message of the ministry).

In January, the US Department of Commerce approached US uranium producers Energy Fuels Inc. and Ur-Energy Inc. with a request to investigate this matter in accordance with section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The same provision of the law Trump used to introduce duties on imports of steel and aluminum. According to the procedure for conducting the investigation, the US Department of Commerce has 270 days to prepare the report to the president of the country, and the president has 90 days to make a decision on the need to introduce quotas or duties.

"The main goal of the petition is to protect US producers of natural uranium, which is not supplied from Russia to the US, so at the moment we do not see a direct threat to our interests from this initiative," Tenex (part of Rosatom), which supplies in the United States enriched uranium.

US producers of uranium, which occupy about 5% of the domestic market, offered the government to protect them from competition from state companies in countries such as Russia and Kazakhstan, the agency said. They argue that it is becoming increasingly difficult to compete with state-subsidized companies from Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Uranium producers from the US want US companies to account for about 25% of the domestic market.

Ross told the Senate Finance Committee in June that he would make a decision on uranium "very soon." "The situation is complicated by some previous agreements that are in force, but we are now streamlining them and will come to a solution very, very quickly," he said.

In the message of the Ministry of Trade of the USA it is noted that Energy Fuels Inc. and Ur-Energy Inc. more than half of the employees had to be dismissed in the last two years, and now their production capacities are loaded by 13 and 9% respectively. In this case, the resumption of production of closed mines will take years, given the norms of US environmental legislation.

The main sources of imported uranium for the US are Canada and Kazakhstan. Each of these countries accounts for about a quarter of the total supply. They are followed by Australia, Russia and Uzbekistan, according to the US Energy Information Administration. According to the government agency, in 2016 almost 90% of the uranium used at the US nuclear power plants was supplied from abroad.

In November, Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed senior prosecutors to examine the need for a special investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because of the so-called uranium deal with Russia. He also ordered "to assess some aspects" of the activities of the Clinton Foundation and the transaction for the purchase of Uranium One by the structures of Rosatom.

According to the Tenex report for 2017, the company supplied uranium products to the US for 12 US customers for about $ 700 million and signed nine contracts with US companies for a total of $ 1.1 billion. In the structure of sales of Tenex to the American region last year, 41.2 % of orders for uranium products.