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Specialist warns against uranium shortage

Uranium expert and representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr Martin Fairclough, predicts the world will face a shortage of uranium within the next three decades, as demand will outweigh supply.

Speaking at the opening of the Uranium International Conference in Swakopmund, Fairclough said countries should vigorously explore and discover new uranium deposits to ensure its long-term availability.

He said approximately seven million tonnes of uranium are left in the world.

“It might sound huge – however one should consider how long it takes from discovery to the actual mining,” said Fairclough indicating that it can take up to 20 years from discovery to extraction of uranium.

The analyst anticipates that demand may exceed supply, as demand for uranium by India and China, rise.

“The supply of uranium is at risk despite the current huge availability due to low uranium prices following the Fukushima incident in 2013.” He said the market is expected to stabilize.

Currently 15 countries hold 95 percent of the world’s identified resources of which six countries account for 90 percent of world production. And the Minex Consulting report of 2010 indicates that 50 percent of the world’s resources have never been produced.

“While there are significant stockpile inventories there is no guarantee they will be accessible.

The uranium resource base is more than adequate to meet projected growth by 2035, hence new deposits should be identified and explored in time to meet the demand by 2035,” he explained.

Fairclough said countries such as India and China will increasingly demand more uranium, as nuclear power is expected to be an important part of the worldwide energy mix at least for the next 50 years and beyond.

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