This factsheet, by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen (an independent nuclear analyst), shows that supplies of the high-grade uranium ore required to fuel nuclear power generation will, at current levels of consumption, last to about 2034. After that date, recoverable uranium ores would be of such a low-grade that more and more energy (and therefore more CO2 emissions) would be required to produce uranium fuel.
The nuclear industry knows this, and plans to use a combination of uranium from spent uranium fuel and plutonium dioxide (MOX fuel) to power future nuclear reactors. MOX fuel is produced in reprocessing plants such as Sellafield, and transported by train and boat to Japan and Europe. The security risks associated with an international economy in MOX fuel presents serious threats to efforts at controlling the spread of nuclear weapons and preventing nuclear terrorism.
This is the 4th in a series of factsheets published as part of our Secure Energy project.