India And USA: Uranium Hunting

India is returning to importing uranium from Russia. For the first time in four years, New Delhi purchased 118 tons of “Made in Russia” uranium ore in August 2023 for a total of $13.5 million. Moscow last exported uranium to India in 2019, when total sales amounted to 1,770 tons of radioactive material.

In 2023, Kazakhstan sold the richest uranium deposit Budennovskoye to the Russian state company Rosatom, after which its CEO Alexei Likhachev, during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that “Russia has risen to the second place in the world in terms of reserves of this strategic metal.”

Despite tensions between Russia and the United States, uranium trade between the two powers is booming. In the first six months of the year, the USA increased imports of Russian enriched uranium by 2.2 times compared to the results of the same period in 2022, which reached 416 tons. The United States imports from Russia Uranium-235 used to fuel nuclear reactors, and bought from Russia $696.5 million worth of Uranium-235 between January and June 2023, which is the highest figure since 2002.

In 2023, international uranium prices are continuing to rise. The quote is currently above $50 per pound after fluctuating between $20 and $25 over the past ten years. As eToro chief analyst Ben Laidler explained to the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, “Uranium prices are up double digits this year, to levels that have only been seen three times in the past. This is a late recovery from the rise in prices of other widely used renewable energy commodities such as lithium, cobalt, copper, and nickel. The uranium market shows growing demand and limited supply, while its use as the main fuel for nuclear reactors needs to be re-evaluated as an element to achieve zero carbon emissions, with the development of new smaller modular reactors (SMRs). All this is beginning to stimulate demand for uranium, and low prices have increased the supply gap at the mines to 25%. The situation is now exacerbated by concerns from major manufacturers over the supply from Russia due to sanctions and from Niger after the recent coup.