Uranium Mines Get New Life as Prices Surge

Demand for nuclear power has jumped as many countries are increasingly intent on leaving fossil fuels behind.

Photo of nuclear power plant
Photo by Lukáš Lehotský via Unsplash

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Nuclear power may not be everyone’s definition of clean energy, but it’s making a big comeback as nations scramble to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. And you don’t have to be a nuclear technician like Homer Simpson to know that what’s good for nukes is good for uranium mining. 

While nuclear plants have been operating for decades, many countries started to distance themselves from them after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, sending the price of uranium plummeting. Germany shut down its last remaining nuclear plants last April. 

Nudging Nuclear

However, Japan itself still produces a good deal of nuclear power alongside countries such as France, Canada, and China. And the US, which leads the world by producing nearly 30% of all nuclear energy output, looks to add even more:

  • The price of uranium has tripled in the last four years, and at least five US firms have restarted operations at relatively small mines in states including Wyoming, Texas, Arizona, and Utah, Bloomberg reported.
  • The Uranium Producers of America say the US will need eight to 10 new major mines over the next decade if the country wants to keep up with the growing demand for nuclear power, and the International Atomic Energy Agency expects the world will need more than 100,000 metric tons of uranium per year by 2040.  

Both Sides Agree: While some activist groups and scientists criticize nuclear plants for the radioactive waste that can contaminate humans and the environment if not disposed of properly, they seem to have ample support in Washington, DC. Just last week, Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill that will speed up the building of the next run of America’s nuclear plants. Democrats see it as supporting the environment and Republicans see it as supporting the economy. Just don’t be surprised when you start reeling in three-eyed fish at your local swimming hole.