(Bloomberg) — The U.S. Commerce Department has recommended the White House take steps to protect the domestic production of uranium after finding the nation’s reliance on imports was a national security risk, said three people briefed on the matter.
Among the trade remedies recommended is to require nuclear power plants to purchase a minimum of 5% of the radioactive fuel from U.S. mines, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss non-public deliberations. Two of the people said an option under consideration would see the quota escalate by 5 percentage points a year.
A decision to impose the quotas would be a boon to the two small mining companies that petitioned the Commerce Department to take action, Energy Fuels Inc. and Ur-Energy Inc. The move would increase costs for nuclear reactor operators that are already struggling in the face of competition from cheaper sources of power generated by natural gas and renewables.
Domestic nuclear providers rose on the news, with Uranium Energy Corp. up as much as 3.9%, Energy Fuels rising as much as 3.5% and Ur-Energy paring earlier losses to rise less than 1%.
The Commerce Department concluded in April that the imports harmed national security, delivering a confidential report on the matter to the White House at the time, the people said.
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