China’s uranium supplies expected to fall 17,000 tons short by 2020

Uranium demand in China is expected to grow to 20,000 tons a year by 2020. That’s some 17,000 tons less than the country expects to be able to produce by then.

Recognizing that China has a major problem looming if it hopes to continue growing its nuclear power supplies, Chinese scientists are hard at work trying to find ways to extend uranium’s usage rate. Touting a recent break-through at “the No 404 factory under the China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC),” the CNNC’s director went on national television to announce they’re at the early stages of “(boosting) the usage rate of uranium materials at nuclear plants by 60 times.”

If such an increase were possible, scientists expect China could have a self-sufficient supply of uranium in the years to come. If it’s not possible, the country will have to ramp up imports by some 800 percent over the next decade. Scary thought!

Uranium demand in China is expected to grow to 20,000 tons a year by 2020 as the country looks to expand nuclear power capacity to 40 gigawatts (gW) from its current level of 9 gigawatts (gW), according to figures from the World Nuclear Association. That’s a lot of uranium considering the fact that China expects to produce only 2,400 tons of uranium domestically in 2020.

That could be a big boon for uranium miners and suppliers around the world, and it could explain the eye-popping returns on some leading uranium stocks in 2010. Not everyone, it seems, has faith that we’ll be able to extend the usage rates for uranium, and I’ll remain bullish on uranium until we get conclusive proof to the contrary.

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