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The US is looking to raise funds of $4.3bn to buy enriched uranium directly from domestic producers and cut imports from Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine, reported Bloomberg News citing a person familiar with the matter.
Considering prospects that Russia could cease uranium supply to the US, the US Energy Department (DOE) officials held a meeting with key congressional staff and emphasised the urgent need for funding for the nuclear-reactor fuel.
As per DOE officials, potential supply interruption for enriched uranium from Russia could disrupt operations at commercial nuclear reactors, the person noted.
A second person with knowledge of the details said that the participants of the US nuclear energy industry were also briefed on the proposal, which requires Congress’ nod.
The plan aims to speed up the development of enriched uranium domestically, as well as produce reactor fuel from uranium, the person noted.
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A government buyer is also planned to enable direct purchase of domestically produced enriched uranium.
Currently, the US operates only one commercial enrichment facility, a New Mexico plant. It is owned by the British-German-Dutch consortium Urenco.
The plan to expand enrichment capabilities in the US, if materialised, could benefit firms such as Centrus Energy and ConverDyn, a joint venture between General Atomics and Honeywell International.
US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was cited by the news agency as saying that the dependence on imports from Russia is a “vulnerability” for the US national and economic security.
In 2020, the US imported 16.5% of its uranium from Russia.
In a separate announcement, Orea Mining reported that Nord Gold, its joint-venture partner in the Montagne d’Or gold mine project in French Guiana, France, has been hit with sanctions by the US Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Nord Gold is owned or controlled by oligarch Alexey Mordashov.