Canada could get caught in cross fire of US uranium investigation

Trump Administration Investigating Uranium Imports Under National Security Concerns

The Trump administration opened an investigation into whether uranium imports threaten national security, a move that may lead to tariffs on the nuclear power plant fuel.

Those investigations are unusual in their reliance on a national security justification for limiting imports in such broad categories - or potentially limiting them, in the case of autos - from close USA allies.

The investigation will canvass the entire uranium sector from the mining industry through enrichment, defense, and industrial consumption, according to the department.

"Our production of uranium necessary for military and electric power has dropped from 49 percent of our consumption to 5 percent", Ross said, suggesting that to be so overwhelmingly dependent on imports could jeopardize usa security. The Commerce Department similarly launched a review centered on a trade law known as Section 232, which allows tariffs to be placed on imports in the name of national security, before imposing those tariffs. By 2014, more uranium had been mined in Canada than any other country - 485,000 IU, about one-fifth of the world total. Domestic producers are projected to fulfil only about two per cent of total USA commercial demand.

In January, the US Department of Commerce approached US uranium producers Energy Fuels Inc. and Ur-Energy Inc. with a request to investigate this matter in accordance with the section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

Nuclear power provides 20 percent of the United States' electricity, a fraction that is set to wane in the coming years: Since 2013, six of the nation's nuclear reactors have shut down permanently and 11 others are scheduled to be retired by 2025. "Today, U.S. uranium production has dropped to only five percent of U.S. requirements".

"While U.S. producers can fairly compete with foreign production on a level playing field, it is hard for them to compete with heavily subsidized foreign production", they said in a joint statement.

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Uranium produced domestically now fills only 5 percent of USA needs, Ross said, down from half in 1987.

"Uranium is a required component of our nuclear arsenal and is used to power the Navy's nuclear fleet of submarines and aircraft carriers", he said.

Cameco Corp., the Saskatchewan-based uranium company that accounts for 18 per cent of the world's uranium production and sells 30 per cent of its uranium to the United States, said it's too early to know the effect of the investigation.

The U.S. firms have requested that 25 per cent of the U.S. uranium market - roughly 12 million pounds - be protected for American miners, saying they have struggled to compete with state-owned "subsidized" firms in countries including Russian Federation and Kazakhstan.

"When it was aluminum you could question whether it can be justified as a national security risk, but with uranium, I think it's much easier", said Tal. But they say they have laid off roughly half of their combined employees and are operating at just 9 percent and 13.5 percent of capacity, respectively. They also requested the government implement a "Buy America" policy for government agencies that use uranium.

The investigation comes a day before the department holds a hearing on whether the imports of automobiles and automotive parts threaten US national security.

In their petition, the companies proposed import quotas that would reserve one quarter of the USA market for domestic uranium production.

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