Peak uranium by the end of the decade – plan solves
Crawford 11 [“Peak Uranium By 2015?”, 6/22/11, Black Swan Insights, Nathaniel Crawford—B.A. from Occidental College, 9 years of experience in financial markets, as stock trader, bonds trader, investor, and analyst]
A new research report says yes. The report goes on to say that short of a complete nuclear phase-out, the world will run out of uranium by the end of the decade. Here are the major conclusions:¶ • A production decline from essentially all mines operating on particular deposits is unavoidable during the present decade.¶ • This decline can only be partially compensated by the planned new mines.¶ • Assuming that all new uranium mines can be opened as planned, annual mining will be increased from the 2010 level of 54 ktons to about 58 ± 4 ktons in 2015.¶ • After 2015 uranium mining will decline by about 0.5 ktons/year up to 2025 and much faster thereafter. The resulting maximal annual production is predicted as 56 ± 5 ktons (2020), 54 ± 5 ktons (2025) and 41 ± 5 ktons (2030).¶ Assuming that the demand side will be increased by 1% annually, we predict both shortages of uranium and (inflation-adjusted) price hikes within the next five years.¶ ........¶ Therefore, assuming that a global slow phase-out scenario will not be chosen on a voluntary basis, we predict that the end of the cheap uranium supply will result in a chaotic phase-out scenario with price explosions, supply shortages and blackouts in many countries.¶ To read the full report: click here¶ The report contends that the only way for supply to keep up with demand would be if the US and Russia recycle their nuclear weapons into low enriched uranium fuel. The Russians have been doing this since 1993 under the Megatons to Megawatts program, but the program is expected to end in 2013. The Russians have indicated that they do not expect to renew the program.
Peak uranium causes nuclear war
Konstantiov 12 – professor of math at Moscow State and member of numerous scientific/geological councils
(Mihail Konstantiov, Professor of Mathematics with the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy (UACEG), Bulgaria, Vice-Chancellor of UACEG (1999-2003), Member of scientific councils and commissions, Member of the Board of IICREST. He has authored 30 books and over 500 scientific papers. He has participated in international scientific projects of EU and NATO and realized research and lecturing visits in British, German and French universities. Prof. Konstantinov has been Member and Vice Chair of the Central Election Commission of Bulgaria and Voting coordinator of OSCE (1997-) as well as the Bulgarian representative at the Council of Europe on electronic voting. In addition to his scientific publications, he has authored more than 300 articles in Bulgarian editions devoted to social and political issues with emphasis on election practice and legislation., “Uranium time bomb ticking”, Europost, 2-11-2012, http://www.europost.bg/article?id=3763)
In 1945, the US had three nuclear bombs - two plutonium-based devices and a uranium-based one. The first one was detonated on a test site in New Mexico, and the second and third ones over Japanese territory. On 6 August 1945, the then-only uranium-based bomb was thrown over the Japanese city of Hiroshima. What happened is well known and I will not re-tell it. Moreover, this story deals with nuclear weapons but they are not the main characters. Almost 20 years ago, an agreement was inked under which the US undertook to help dismantle Russian nuclear warheads and convert the uranium from them into fuel for nuclear reactors. The reason is simple - the procedure is expensive, Russia was weak and poor at the time, and in addition, American technology back then was significantly ahead of the Russian one. The amounts of converted uranium are massive - more than 500 tonnes. Thus Russian uranium turns into fuel for US nuclear power plants. At present, this fuel is used to produce 10% of the electrical power in the US. This is more than the energy produced from renewable sources, such as sun, wind and water, there. This idyll, however, is coming to its end. First, the US-Russia agreement for Russian warheads conversion expires next year and Russia is highly unlikely to extend it. Moreover, Russians now have good technology for that purpose and will probably want to leave their uranium for themselves. And second, if the agreement is extended, the amounts of warheads subject to dismantling will soon be exhausted anyway as the agreed limits are reached. Global markets have already started suspecting what is going to happen with the expiring US-Russia agreement for warhead uranium. And not only with it. Indeed, uranium oxide prices have gone wild surging to almost $70/lb (1lb is 454 gr.) in January this year from $40/lb in September 2011. Such a 70% rally in uranium price over just 3-4- months is not sustainable and even a certain edging down can be expected. Still, the trend is clear - uranium dearth is looming, as well as dearth of other strategic natural resources. We have repeatedly stated this but let us underscore it again. The global crisis is most of all a resource crisis. It is financial insofar as it has became clear that the system allowing some people to print money while others work and bring them oil and other goods will not last for good. The anticipated uranium shortage in the coming decade is truly striking and is estimated at 500m lb! One of the reasons is the fast developing economies of China and India, along with other countries like Brazil and Turkey. It is where the bulk of the 147 reactors expected to become operational in these 10 years will be located. A major consumer of uranium, the US currently has a demand for 60m lb a year but produces only 3m lb. Still, this is the way things are at present. And what will happen after the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviews and potentially approves new nuclear reactor proposals? They are 26 or so. And more are in the pipeline. The situation in India is even more dramatic - an increase in the share of nuclear energy in electricity production is expected from 2.5% at present to 25%. In other words, India will need 10 times as much uranium as it does now if the far-reaching plan is put to practice. China has more humble aspirations and is gearing to raise the share of nuclear facilities in electricity production only ...three times. And China, much like the US, does not have sufficient domestic supply. We can continue with statistics, but things are evident anyway. A war is around the corner. In the best-case scenario, this will be a price war over uranium and in particular uranium oxide. Prices in the order of $100 or even $200/lb no longer seem far-fetched. Price levels of $500-$1000-$2000/lb have even been mentioned and this will have its swift and drastic implications. Still, if a reactor costs $4bn, why not pay $1000/lb of uranium? Or else, the 4-billion investment will go down the drain. Another exploding global market is the one for rare earth elements with hard-to-pronounce Latin names such as Neodymium, Cerium, Lanthanum, Gallium, Gadolinium, Thulium… If we have a look at Mendeleev's periodic table, they are squeezed somewhere at the bottom. But then, all the electronics around us, all computers, fibre optics, all satellites and in general everything underlying our high-tech civilization would be utterly impossible but for these exotic hard-to-extract elements. The price of each of them has doubled and tripled in a year alone. And the prices of some of them have soared sixfold in the same period. Compared with rare earth elements, gold and platinum are like a tame kitten. It naturally eats and swells but at a rate of only up to 40% a year. And what about the lithium underlying the idea of electric vehicles staging a mass entrance into our daily life and economy if and when oil is exhausted? But it is in rare elements where the secret of future skirmishes over resources lies. Because across the world, they are really hard to extract but China holds 97% of their global production! No mistake, China produces 33 times as much rare metals as the rest of the world. This may as well be changed some day as currently huge efforts and money are put into looking for rare metals around the globe. Hypothetically, only a third of the reserves is in China with the other two thirds lying somewhere else. Too bad it is anyone's guess where, although Canada, South Africa and some African countries are considered promising in this regard. Still, for the time being this is how things are: China has almost everything and the rest of the world hardly anything. Does anyone have any doubts why China has the ambition to become the top dog? Of course, the world is by no means treading water in one other respect: substitute technologies are sought for that would not be so critically dependent on rare earth elements, yet, more in the long rather than short run. By the way, why are we discussing uranium prices along with all other sorts of prices in US dollars? The answer is clear: because the dollar is the global reserve currency. The reason for this, though, is more complicated. True, the US is the largest economy for the time being. But it is also among the most indebted countries in the world. And its debt is increasingly surging. Still, this is not the most important. The most important thing is that the US has the most powerful, most mobile and one of the most effective armies in the world. Little likely is it for someone to reject the US dollar as a reserve currency while the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army, based at Fort Bragg North Carolina, is the holy terror it is at the moment. And there is much more to it than the 82nd Division. So the time bomb of uranium and rare earth elements dearth is ticking. And little idea do we have of the time it is set for. Or whether, when it finally goes off, somebody might remember the first massive application of uranium, which turned thousands into ashes some 67 years ago. And be tempted to use it again. For 67 years now, we have been showing reason and surviving. Let us hope fierce deficiency of natural resources, food and water that is looming will not take it away from us.