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Trump's uranium support bears fruit; most supplies from EU, Canada

Uranium producer Energy Fuels Inc. has responded to the Trump administration's increased funding for the nuclear industry with a stock sale and plans for a new mine in four states, including Arizona, The Associated Press reports. The administration's funding plans are part of a broader move to secure U.S. access to critical minerals, discussed in Panjiva's research of Nov. 21, amid an ongoing section 232 (national security) review of U.S. imports.

Panjiva's data shows that U.S. imports of uranium ore and processed products including spent nuclear power plant fuel were worth $2.80 billion in 2019. That was in line with the previous two years.

The EU and Canada dominate supplies, representing 48.7% and 22.2%, respectively, in 2019. While those could be considered "friendly" from a national security perspective, both countries were subject to section 232 duties in relation to steel and aluminum. While Canada has been removed from that list, the EU has not. Importantly, Russia still represents 21.6% of the total, though that proportion has declined slightly since 2017.

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The largest supplier from the EU in 2019 was Framatome with 535 tons of processed materials supplied, up 57.9% year over year. The largest identified supplier of uranium ore was Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. with 288 tons supplied from Australia, following a 35.0% slide.

There are still significant supplies from Russia led by Tenex part of the The State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM group with 572 tons of processed materials, which came after an 8.9% increase. That has been tied up with the wider START nuclear weapons program. The U.S. withdrawal from the underlying treaty, reported by the BBC, could lead to a reduction in nuclear material flows in the future.

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Christopher Rogers is a senior researcher at Panjiva, which is a business line of S&P Global Market Intelligence, a division of S&P Global Inc. This content does not constitute investment advice, and the views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of S&P Global Market Intelligence. Links are current at the time of publication. S&P Global Market Intelligence is not responsible if those links are unavailable later.