Uranium Enrichment Expands in the USA -- Centrifuge Technology Leads the Way

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A battleground for uranium enrichment is shaping up in the USA as import restrictions and a weakening US dollar foster new plant construction. All major uranium enrichment suppliers will be using centrifuge technology in future years, which could lead to more stable or lower operating costs and possibly lower market prices.

A battleground for uranium enrichment is shaping up in the USA as import restrictions and a weakening US dollar foster new plant construction.

All major uranium enrichment suppliers will be using centrifuge technology by the middle of the next decade and once centrifuge manufacture becomes routine and the costs matures, there will be "no stopping" the continual installation of centrifuge capacity, according to TradeTech CEO Gene Clark, who analyzed the uranium enrichment market in a presentation at the Platt's Nuclear Fuel Strategies conference in Arlington, Virginia. "Enrichment production costs (and possibly prices) could then stabilize or drop, given the low operating costs of centrifuge technology," Clark stated.

Clark also disproved the myth that uranium demand is inelastic by illustrating that as uranium prices rise, enrichers operate at lower tails assay and, therefore, decrease the need for uranium. As centrifuge capacity increases, the demand for uranium declines. "However, pricing for uranium and enrichment could become locked in a competitive environment, if the relationship between the two becomes more transparent to the markets," Clark explained.

Trade restrictions continue to distort the market, particularly Russia's share of the enrichment market. Restrictions against Russia will continue to result in a sub-optimal economically inefficient nuclear fuel market for the foreseeable future, he added.

Note to Editors: Uranium enrichment is the physical process of increasing the proportion of U-235 to U-238. Commercial nuclear reactor-grade uranium is usually enriched to about 3.5% U-235. Enrichment tails is the depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6) with less than 0.7% U-235.

TradeTech publishes the Nuclear Market Review each Friday evening, which reports the weekly uranium spot market price, uranium trading activity, industry news, and market data. TradeTech also publishes The Nuclear Review, a monthly trade publication dedicated to the international uranium and nuclear energy industry.

TradeTech, and its predecessor companies-NUEXCO Information Services, CONCORD Information Services, and CONCORD Trading Company-has supported the uranium and nuclear fuel cycle industry for 40 years, and is widely recognized for its expertise in trading activities and its comprehensive knowledge of the technical, economic and political factors affecting this industry. TradeTech provides expert market consulting, participates in the buying and selling of uranium products and services, and maintains an extensive information database on these industries.

For general and media inquiries contact:
TradeTech
600 Seventeenth Street
Suite 720 South
Denver, CO 80202

Phone: 303.573.3530
Fax: 303.573.3531
E-mail: info(at)tradetech.com
http://www.uranium.info

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Gene Clark

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