Australia to export Uranium to Russia

Australia and Russia have signed a deal allowing Australia to supply uranium to Russian nuclear reactors.

UraniumInitially this struck me as rather odd – I’d always assumed that Russia was pretty much self-sufficient when it comes to uranium.

But, interestingly, Russia doesn’t mine anywhere near enough uranium to fuel all its nuclear reactors (military or civilian) or to cover the massive amount of uranium it has agreed to export to other countries.

Take a look at these numbers from 2000:

  • 3,260 tonnes: Uranium mined in Russia
  • 8,000 tonnes: Uranium used in Russian reactors
  • 16,000 tonnes: Uranium exported abroad

Although production is on the increase, Russia used or exported seven times as much uranium as it was able to produce in 2000.

The only way that Russia can fuel its nuclear reactors, and meet its export obligations is to dip into its steadily diminishing stockpile of uranium, which currently stands at around a half a million tonnes. At the current rate of depletion, Russia’s uranium stockpile will be gone entirely in little more than 20 years.

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2 Responses

  1. Joshua Foust says:

    Plus, I would guess the “world bank of uranium” Russia is working on with Kazakhstan might factor into this decision as well.

  2. Red Exile says:

    Between them, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan should be able to supply Russia, I should have thought so the interesting thing here is why Australia? I think it might be something to do with Australia’s lack of enrichment capacity (http://www.uic.com.au/ozuran.htm). So they export it to places with lots of enrichment capacity and an economically accessible ‘route-to-market’; cue the Russian deal to supply its reactors…