Kazkh-origin uranium dominated US purchases in 2021 (Image: EIA)
The EIA's 2021 Uranium Marketing Annual Report includes detailed data on US uranium marketing activities over the last five years, as well as summary data back to 2000. These are based on information reported through an annual survey which collects data on contracts, deliveries and projected deliveries, enrichment services purchased, inventories, use in fuel assemblies, feed deliveries to enrichers, and unfilled market requirements for the next 10 years.
Owners and operators of US nuclear power plants purchased a total of 46.7 million pounds U3O8 (17,963 tU) of deliveries during 2021. Of this, 44.3 million pounds was of foreign origin, with Kazakhstan accounting for 35% of total deliveries, followed by Canada (14.8%) and Australia (14.4%). Russia accounted for some 6,314 million pounds - 13.5% of all deliveries.
Some 19% of the uranium delivered in 2021 was purchased under spot contracts at a weighted-average price of USD30.56 per pound. The remaining 81% was purchased under long-term contracts at a weighted-average price of USD34.71 per pound.
Contracted deliveries under existing purchase contracts for 2022-2031 of 180 million pounds U3O8, and unfilled uranium market requirements of 182 million pounds for the same period represent maximum anticipated market requirements of 362 million pounds U3O8 over the next 10 years for US owners and operators.
US commercial uranium inventories - including inventories owned by plant owners and operators, brokers, converters, enrichers, fabricators, producers, and traders - were 141.7 million pounds U3O8 at the end of 2021, the report found. This is 8% up from the 131 million pounds at the end of 2020. The majority of this inventory - 108.5 million pounds, 76% - is held by power plant owners and operators, with nearly 18% held by brokers and traders, and just under 6% held by convertors, enrichers, fabricators and producers.
This is the third year-on-year increase in inventory held by US brokers and traders, growing from 9.4 million pounds at the end of 2019 to 18.3 million pounds in 2020 to 25.2 million pounds at the end of 2021.
World Nuclear Association estimates that US reactors accounted for some 28% of world uranium requirements in 2021.
The inventory figures given in the EIA report are all provisional.