Senate Legislation Could Boost Sale of DOE Uranium

The Department of Energy sits on top one of the world’s largest Uranium stockpile,  about a 150 million-pound, worth $6 billion, and if the Senate has its way it could sell more of that carbon-neutral energy source under long-term contracts.

Tomorrow the  Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources will debate , which if enacted could bring more certainty to the Uranium market by regulating how much  excess Uranium the DOE can sell, and how quickly it can sell it. Currently, the DOE sells Uranium but largely on the spot-market, and when it does, because of its deep supply, that often drives prices down.

The DOE also barters some of its Uranium stockpile with the government-backed United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), which then re-sells it as enriched Uranium fuel. In exchange the USEC uses proceeds from the sale  to support the  decommissioning of the Portsmouth nuclear facility in Piketon, Ohio.

“This is a positive step that should help bring clarity to the Uranium market,” points out Jonathan Hinze , a market research firm. The legislation, sponsored by Senators Ben Nelson (D-Neb) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo), comes with new reactors come online in China and the rest of Asia. There are currently 112 nuclear reactors in operation and about 121 that are either in construction or under development across Asia.

Over the next three years the legislation greenlights the sales by the DOE of more than 15 million pounds of Uranium, half of that amount under long-term contracts. Likely buyers will include U.S. electric utilities which have nuclear power plants.

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