The United States will investigate imports of uranium over national-security concerns, raising the prospect of damaging tariffs for Canadian producers of the metal.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday that the investigation was prompted by a petition from two U.S. uranium mining companies.
He pointed to a drop in U.S. production of uranium, which is used to power 99 commercial reactors, the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, and in the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal.
“Our production of uranium necessary for military and electric power has dropped from 49 per cent of our consumption to five percent,” Mr. Ross said in a statement. “The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security will conduct a thorough, fair, and transparent review to determine whether uranium imports threaten to impair national security.”
The investigation is similar to the one undertaken by the United States before it imposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from several countries including Canada. Canadian uranium producers could face either a tariff on uranium exports or a quota for U.S. producers that would secure more market share for them.