FIGURE 3.16 Projections for U.S. uranium requirements to fuel nuclear reactors through 2035. SOURCE: Compiled from data in NEA/IAEA (2010).
that the uranium could be recovered at or below a specified production cost with currently proven mining and processing technology and under current law and regulations.”2 The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates public disclosure of exploration results and the definition of mineral resource and reserve estimates (Box 3.2).3 The SEC defines a reserve as a “mineral deposit which could be economically and legally extracted or produced at the time of the reserve determination.” Internationally, the IAEA and Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) define resources based on differing levels of certainty—Identified Resources, which include Reasonably Assured Resources (RAR) and Inferred Resources (EAR), as well as Undiscovered Resources which include Prognosticated Resources (PR) and Speculative Resources (SR).
The NEA/IAEA compilation (NEA/IAEA, 2010) for worldwide uranium resources in a range of resource categories for different cost ranges is presented in Table 3.3, and the RARs in the United States are shown in Table 3.4.
For RAR, WNA estimated that the nuclear energy’s fuel supply infrastructure should be able to meet world demand in the short term, but expansion will be needed across the entire fuel cycle beyond 2020 (Figure 3.18) (WNA, 2009).
When considered on a country-by-country basis, three countries—Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada—contain 52 percent of the world’s Identified Resources of uranium at the < $130/kg cost point (NEA/IAEA, 2010), corresponding to 2,810,100 tonnes (3,097,605 short tons). However, a substantial component of these resources are contained in the giant Olympic Dam deposit in Australia