Australian companies back Trump uranium import plan

Donald Trump’s decision to not issue a quota that would have limited uranium imports into the United States has been praised by Australian companies.

A Section 232 petition launched by US producers Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy in January 2018 requested that the US Government set a quota to reserve 25 per cent of the country’s nuclear market for domestic uranium producers, maintaining the viability of the US market against “state-sponsored producers”.

The move would have cut imports into the country from important overseas producers, including Australia, which is the second-largest global exporter of uranium after Kazakhstan.

Trump’s decision not to impose the quota received praise from Boss Resources’ managing director Duncan Craib, whose company is proposing to restart of the Honeymoon uranium project in South Australia.

“Australia has been a long-term, reliable and important supplier of uranium to the US and this decision will see this continue, underpinning project development in Australia, as well as providing foreign investment,” he said.

Western Australia-based Vimy Resources, owner of the undeveloped Mulga Rock project, called the decision “a very positive outcome for the Australian uranium industry, as any sort of tariff or quota would have been prejudicial to uranium sales within the US market which accounts for 30 per cent of uranium consumption”.

The petition gained attention due to a report from the US Commerce Department stating that uranium imports to the US from high-risk, low-cost producers, such as Russia and Kazakhstan, were a threat to US national security, according to Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act.

Trump stated in a presidential memorandum released on July 12 that he agreed the department’s findings raised “significant concerns” regarding the impact of uranium imports on domestic mining, but did not agree that uranium imports threatened to impair national security under Section 232.

“Currently, the United States imports approximately 93 percent of its commercial uranium, compared to 85.8 percent in 2009,” Trump said.

“The Secretary (of Commerce) found that this figure is because of increased production by foreign state-owned enterprises, which have distorted global prices and made it more difficult for domestic mines to compete.

“At this time, I do not concur with the Secretary’s finding that uranium imports threaten to impair the national security of the United States as defined under section 232 of the Act.”

Trump has requested a report be submitted within the next 90 days with further recommendations on how to develop domestic nuclear fuel production.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.