Energy department selling surplus uranium

WASHINGTON DC - The U.S. Energy Department plans to sell 2,000 tonnes of surplus uranium annually 2011-2013, which could push spot prices lower over the next three years.

The department announced the sales will take place every three months, with no more than 450 metric tons put on the market per quarter.

The uranium, which can be processed as fuel for nuclear power plants, will help cover the cost of cleaning up the Portsmouth uranium enrichment plant in Ohio.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu approved the transfers after he determined the sales would not hurt domestic uranium producers, the department said. U.S. uranium production rose 14 percent last year to 4.2 million pounds.

However, an analysis prepared for the department concluded that the average spot price for uranium could fall 4.9 to 8.9 percent during the period from the November 30, 2010 spot price of $60.25 per pound. The current spot price for uranium is near $70 a pound.

The Energy Department built up an inventory of about 58,000 tonnes of natural uranium for military use during the Cold War and has been selling the stocks gradually over the past 25 years.


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