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Biden signs bill banning imports of Russian uranium for nuclear fuel

Cartridges ready for shipment filled with enriched uranium at the Urenco USA Uranium Enrichment Facility near Eunice, New Mexico, United States, Tuesday, July 11, 2023. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is forcing the United States and Europe to seek alternative sources of enriched uranium to fuel their reactors.

Marc Felix | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The United States will ban the import of Russian uranium starting August 11, the Energy Department announced Tuesday.

Russia controls nearly half of the world’s enriched uranium supply, according to the Energy Department, and supplies about a quarter of the United States’ enriched uranium, which is used to fuel the country’s 94 nuclear reactors .

The ban, which President Joe Biden signed into law Monday, also unlocks $2.72 billion in federal funding to expand the nation’s uranium industry.

Exchange-traded funds that track uranium prices rose slightly after the announcement, the Global X Uranium ETF and the Sprott Uranium Miners ETF trading about 1% higher on Tuesday.

Because implementation of the ban could harm reactor supplies in the United States, the law allows certain exemptions for utilities that would otherwise be forced to close their reactors. However, all exemptions will end no later than January 1, 2028.

“Our nation’s clean energy future will not depend on Russian imports,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “We are investing to build a secure nuclear fuel supply chain here in the United States.”

While the United States continues to import more than 20% of its enriched uranium from Russia’s national nuclear energy company Rosatom, it has sanctioned more than 35 subsidiaries of that company since February 2022, when the Kremlin invaded Ukraine.

Sen. John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the latest decision marks the end of U.S. dependence on Russia for the commodity. basic.

“Banning imports of Russian uranium will revive the U.S. nuclear fuel industry, further curb the Russian war machine and help revive U.S. uranium production for decades to come,” Barrasso said in a statement Monday after the adoption of the bill.

In response to Biden signing the ban, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said in a Telegram post that it was another “failed” attempt by the administration Biden to “inflict on us a strategic economic defeat”.

“The current attack, not only on Russia but also on the global market for uranium fuel for nuclear power plants, brings new shocks to international economic relations,” he said. “The delicate balance between exporters and importers of uranium products is being disrupted.”

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