URANIUM INDUSTRY "REVIVAL"
• Starting with a Section 232 Petition to the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), by Energy Fuels Inc. and UR Energy Inc. the uranium industry and now the Trump Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are seeking funding, changes to regulations and other benifits to cure the long-term uranium industry viability in the U.S.
The uranium industry is a global industry, and most of the uranium used to product fuel for nuclear reactors comes from foreign countries: primarily Canada, Australia, Kazakstan, and Russia. The federal government is tying the needs and desires of the uranium and nuclear industry to national security.
TIME LINE AND DOCUMENTS
• On January 16, 2018, Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. and Ur-Energy USA Inc. (companies based in Canada) submitted a Section 232 “Petition for Relief Under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 from Imports of Uranium Products that Threaten National Security" to the US Department of Commence. The petition claimed that uranium is a key element of national security and the U.S. is being threatened by the import of uranium from Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and China.
With less than 5% of U.S. nuclear fuel needs being supplied by domestically produced uranium, the US uranium industry (largely foreign owned) is not doing well. All permitted conventional uranium mines are on were placed on standby in 2013 or before. Since its inception, the uranium industry has been the subject of boom-and-bust cycles.
The petitioners request a uranium import quota to create a U.S. market and that 25% of the average U.S. historical consumption be U.S. produced.
• The DOC provided an opportunity for public comment on the Section 232 Petition . 83 Fed. Reg. 35204, July 25, 2018. The DOC received 1,016 comments. Comments are posted on the Docket at the government regulations Website (BIS-2018-001).
• In response to the Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy Section 232 Petition, in April 2019, the Department of Commerce sent a Section 232 Investigation Report to the President entitled, "The Effect of Imports of Uranium on the National Security." That Report is requred by law to be made pubically avaiable, but the DOC and the President have yet to release the Report and publish it in the Federal Register. The DOC claims that the President is still reviewing the Report, so the Report cannot be released in response to a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request.
• On July 12, 2019, the President issued a Memorandum on the Effect of Uranium on the National Security, in response to the Department of Commence Investigation Report regarding the January 2018 Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc. and Ur-Energy USA Inc. “Petition for Relief Under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 from Imports of Uranium Products that Threaten National Security.”
The Administration rejected the Petitioners' request to give preference to U.S. produced uranium. Instead, the President established a 13-member Nuclear Fuel Working Group, made up of representatives from federal agencies and White House staff. The Working Group was directed to 1) examine the current state of domestic nuclear fuel production to reinvigorate the entire nuclear fuel supply chain, consistent with United States national security and nonproliferation goals, 2) make recommendations, and 3) submit a Report within 90 days. The Working Group Report was not released to the public until April 23, 2020.
• House Rule 1865 (Public Law 116-94) was signed by the President on December 20, 2019. The Joint Explanatory Statement accompanying the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 (page 37; page 377 of full document), directed the DOE to contract not later than 60 days after enactment with a Federally-Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) or other independent organization to work with industry to identify key challenges in reconstituting mining and conversion3 capabilities in the United States. The FFRDC or independent organization shall provide a report of its findings and recommendations directly to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress not later than 180 days after enactment of this Act.
June 16, 2020, was the date the Report to the Committees on Appropriations was due.
• On February 24, 2020, the Department of Energy published a “Request for Information [RFI] Regarding Key Challenges in Reconstituting Uranium Mining and Conversion Capabilities in the United State.” 85 Fed. Reg. 10424; February 24, 2020. The comment period was extended to March 30. 85 Fed. Reg. 14189; March 11, 2020.
The RFI was an opportunity for the uranium industry to submit comments based on the belief belief that 1) the uranium industry faces significant challenges in producing uranium domestically, 2) this is an issue of national security, and 3) the U.S government should take action and expend money and resources to support and revive the uranium industry.
About 39 comments were received from the industry, environmental organinizations, and individuals. Comments are posted on the Docket at the government regulations Website (DOE-HQ-2020-0016).
> Uranium Watch Comments - View HERE
> Grand Canyon Trust Comments - View HERE
> NRDC et al. Comments
1 - View HERE
> NRDC Comments 2 - View HERE
> Energy Fuels Inc. Comments - View HERE
• Energy Fuels Resources (USA) Inc., owner of White Mesa Uranium Mill and uranium mines in Utah, Arizona, and Colorado, is egregiously using the current COVID-19 pandemic to promote a bailout for the uranium industry. In a March 27, 2020, Letter to the President, Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy USA Inc., Canadian-based companies, argued that the current COVID-19 crisis threatens supplies of uranium. This assertion has no basis in fact.
• On April 23, 2019, the Nuclear Fuel Working Group, established by the President in July 2019, issued the Nuclear Fuel Working Group’s Strategy to Restore American Nuclear Energy Leadership. The Report was issued by the Secretary of Energy in a News Release. The Stretegy includes: Taking immediate and bold action to strengthen the uranium mining and conversion industries and restore the viability of the entire front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle.
The includes creating a uranium reserve at tax-payer expense. The plan wold expend a total of $1.5 Billion ($ 150 Million over 10 years.) An appropriation of $150 million was included in the President's 2021 Budget.
> Fact Sheet - View HERE
> Full Report - View HERE
U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations - View HERE
U.S. House Committee on Appropriations - View HERE
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