Russia’s Long Reach in Uranium

December 6, 2022

Maybe not a great idea to be too dependent on bad actors for critical energy supplies. Just sayin’.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:

After shelling occurred near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya power plant, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on the international community to come up with a stronger response and ban Russian imports from yet another sector: nuclear power. But blocking and replacing Russia’s deliveries of uranium, reactors, and nuclear technology to the rest of the world is easier said than done. 

Here’s how Russia plays a crucial role in the world’s nuclear cycle. 

It’s Not Just About Mining 

Russia is among the five countries with the world’s largest uranium resources. It is estimated to have about 486,000 tons of uranium, the equivalent of 8 percent of global supply.

Yet, the country is a relatively small producer of raw uranium. In 2021, it produced just about 5 percent of the world’s uranium from mines.

However, uranium mining is just one piece of the nuclear process. Raw uranium is not suitable as fuel for nuclear plants. It needs to be refined into uranium concentrate, converted into gas, and then enriched. And this is where Russia excels. 

In 2020, there were just four conversion plants operating commercially — in Canada, China, France, and Russia. Russia was the largest player, with almost 40 percent of the total uranium conversion infrastructure in the world, and therefore produced the largest share of uranium in gaseous form (called uranium hexafluoride).

The same goes for uranium enrichment, the next step in the nuclear cycle. According to 2018 data (the latest available), that capacity was spread among a handful of key players, with Russia once again responsible for the largest share — about 46 percent.

You get the idea. There is much more useful stuff at the link.


2 Responses to “Russia’s Long Reach in Uranium”

  1. ecoquant Says:

    Better, don’t depend upon such oddball sources of energy at all. Indeed if refining for generation of fuels takes more than 3-4 steps, forget about lashing your society and civilization to the power source. Not only is it expensive to construct and operate, it’s susceptible to disruption and terrorism, as well as long range blackmail.

    Any way who really NEEDS nuclear power? Only sector I can think on is the military. Okay, why should the rest of us subsidize them more than we already do?

  2. Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

    It is the WORLD that NEEDS nuclear power. When there is a production shortage of anything, the standard approach is to increase capacity. Not even necessary to invent the process.

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