Trump declines to set US uranium production quotas

President Donald Trump does not agree with a US Commerce Department investigation. (AFP pic)

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump late Friday declined to issue quotas for domestic uranium production but instead ordered a new 90-day review by a group of federal agencies.

Trump said in a written memorandum he did not concur with a US Commerce Department investigation that found uranium imports threaten to impair US national security.

Trump wrote that while findings “raise significant concerns” he was ordering a deeper review. “A fuller analysis of national security considerations with respect to the entire nuclear fuel supply chain is necessary at this time.”

The United States sourced just 7% of its uranium domestically in 2017, with most of the rest coming from Canada, Australia and Russia, according to the Energy Information Administration.

US uranium mining firms, as well as more than two dozen western state lawmakers, have argued that nuclear generators rely heavily on countries such as Russia, China and Kazakhstan for uranium supply from their state-owned companies, who flood the market.

Electric utility companies with nuclear power plants, including Duke Energy and Entergy, fought back hard against the miners’ petition, arguing that their costs would spike if they were forced to source uranium domestically.

They had pushed back against the miners’ argument that the utilities relied on adversaries like Russia, China and Kazakhstan, saying that the United States, Canada and Australia together accounted for nearly 60 percent of the US uranium supply in 2017.

Trump said the working group would make “recommendations to further enable domestic nuclear fuel production if needed.”