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DOE to release long-awaited Nuclear Fuel Working Group report Thu

Washington — The US Department of Energy will Thursday release a long-awaited report from a nuclear fuel working group established by President Donald Trump in July to make recommendations to enable domestic nuclear fuel production further, DOE announced Wednesday.

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That report "outlines a strategy to restore American nuclear energy leadership," DOE said in a statement Wednesday. It did not provide further details.

Trump created the Nuclear Fuel Working Group July 12 to study the US nuclear fuel supply chain and issue the recommendations, after rejecting a January 2018 petition from US producers Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy to the US Department of Commerce to protect them from foreign uranium imports by requiring US utilities to purchase 25% of uranium from US producers.

The working group's recommendations were due October 10, but Trump extended that deadline by 30 days and Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said during a DOE budget briefing March 3 that the report would be released later that day.

Four producers said separately Wednesday they had not heard or received any information about the actual report or its recommendations.

One producer said: "Finally! And right out of the blue! I can't wait to see what the report says..."

Another producer said: "The only thing we have that is tangible is the President's budget" if approved, which is presumably from the working group's report.

The Trump administration included in its fiscal year 2021 budget request February 10 a proposal to create a uranium reserve funded with $150 million a year for 10 years.

That uranium stockpile, if created, would be "expected to support the operation of at least two US uranium mines and will ensure there is a backup supply of uranium in the event of a significant market disruption," as well as the only conversion facility in the US, according to a February 10 statement by DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy.

The Ad Hoc Utilities Group, which represents most US nuclear plant operators, declined to comment.

DOE did not respond to a request for comment.

For a year the uranium spot price had remained between $24.30/lb and $26.64/lb from March 22, 2019 through March 24, 2020, according to S&P Global Platts data. However, the price has substantially increased $8.52, or 35%, since March 23.

Platts assessed the 12-month average of uranium spot prices, based on the mean of assessed activity for U3O8 delivered over the next 12 months, at $33.04/lb Wednesday at 1:00 pm ET, the highest since February 12, 2016.

US producers are not operating their respective mines at the moment, citing low uranium prices.