The two largest uranium producers in the country, both operating in Wyoming, are asking President Donald Trump for relief from one of their greatest challenges: foreign imports.
Denver-based Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy petitioned the Department of Commerce to look into whether imports from dominant uranium producers, like Russia, pose a national security risk. The firms are also asking the president to make adjustments to imports of uranium, according to a statement released by the companies last week.
The companies propose carving out about 25 percent of the domestic market solely for U.S. producers. That would hopefully boost prices and give companies like Energy Fuels an opportunity to grow their businesses, said Paul Goranson, executive vice president of operations for Energy Fuels.
Global uranium prices have hit near historic lows as cheap resources have been made available from mines in countries like Kazakhstan, companies argue. Industry says that new nuclear power plants in the queue and a depletion of cheaply mined reserves in places like Kazakhstan could lift prices in years to come.
In the meantime, domestic companies are not doing well. About 40 percent of U.S. uranium demand is served by cheaper resources from Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Domestic production of uranium only fills about 5 percent of U.S. demand. About half of that comes from Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy, according to the companies.