Primary mine production supplies approximately 84% of current demand. The balance of demand is supplied from secondary sources such as commercial inventories, reprocessing of spent fuel, sales by uranium enrichers and inventories held by governments, in particular the U.S. Department of Energy.
Excess commercial inventories, which were once one of the major sources of secondary supplies during the period from the early 1970s to the early 2000s, have largely been consumed; however, as a result of the shutdown of the German nuclear program and the continued shut down of the majority of the Japanese nuclear fleet, commercial inventories could become a more significant factor. A large source of secondary supplies continues to be government inventories, particularly in the U.S. and Russia. The disposition of these inventories may have a market impact over the next 10 to 20 years, although, the rate and timing of this material entering the market is uncertain.
Reprocessing of spent fuel is another source of secondary supply but is expected to satisfy roughly 5% of demand. Expansion of this secondary source would require major investments in facilities which could only be supported by a significant increase in long-term uranium prices.
UxC expects that secondary sources of supply will fall from estimated 2015 levels of 39.7 million pounds U3
per year to 24.6 million pounds U3
per year by 2025.