Globally there are 436 reactors in operation today, annually consuming some 168 million
lbs. of uranium to produce 16% of the world’s electricity. A further 151 new reactors
are either under construction or planned, plus 266 more units proposed. Adding only
those being built or planned would yield a dramatic 35% increase in the number
of plants worldwide. If we simplistically assume the average new reactor consumes
as much fuel as those currently operating, the industry must source an additional
59 million lbs. of uranium per year on an ongoing basis — and likely within the next
decade. This represents a staggering 55% increase in mine output from today’s levels.
Moreover, the startup of a new reactor causes a surge in demand as initial cores
typically require 2–3 times annual requirements during the ramp–up phase.
Where will all this uranium come from? Is it even possible?