Uranium Could Be Next on Trump's List of New Tariffs

Lloyd Doyle
July 21, 2018

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday that he has launched a new national security investigation into uranium imports that could lead to tariffs or quotas to limit them.

USA uranium producers Energy Fuels Inc. and Ur-Energy Inc. filed a petition in January requesting an investigation under section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act - the same provision used to justify tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum imports from countries including Canada, Mexico and Europe.

DOC said the investigation will "canvass the entire uranium sector from the mining industry through to enrichment, defence, and industrial consumption".

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the investigation Wednesday, noting USA production of uranium for military and electric power has decreased to five per cent of its consumption from 49 per cent in 1987. "The Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security will conduct a thorough, fair, and transparent review to determine whether uranium imports threaten to impair the national security".

The administration announced in March imposing tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports, and began implementing tariffs worth of $34 billion on 1,300 Chinese goods two weeks ago.

The Trump administration said Wednesday it is starting an investigation into uranium imports, potentially opening another front in an expansive trade war that has shaken alliances with countries around the world. The two USA mines have the capacity to produce up to 3 million pounds a year.

Canada was the largest individual foreign supplier, producing 35% of uranium purchases by USA plants. The Department of Commerce states that 20% of the USA electric grid is powered by nuclear energy.

The World Nuclear Association states that just 7% of the uranium delivered to usa nuclear power plants past year was sourced from American companies.

Canada and Kazakhstan are the main sources of U.S. uranium imports, each accounting for about a quarter of the total, followed by Australia, Russia and Uzbekistan, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Uranium is used by nuclear power plants and for the production of nuclear weapons as well as other defense-related purposes.

"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.

Tariff fears may be warranted The big complaint from the two USA companies has to do with "state-subsidized" uranium imports.

"A robust domestic uranium mining industry is not only critical for national security, it's essential for Wyoming's economy", Enzi said.

The U.S. Commerce Department said the two petitioners that account for more than half of all uranium mined in the U.S., have laid off more than half their workforce over the last two years and operate at nine and 13 per cent of their respective capacity.

In a joint statement yesterday, Ur-Energy and Energy Fuels noted the Secretary of Commerce now has 270 days to conduct the investigation and submit a report to the US President containing his findings and proposed remedy, if any.

"Maintaining all the elements of the domestic uranium fuel supply is in our national interest and we urge the federal government to take appropriate action, without harming the fleet of nuclear reactors", Maria G. Korsnick, head of the Nuclear Energy Institute, said in a statement.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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