The World Nuclear Association reports 58,394 tons of uranium produced for 2012. This was 4720 tons more than the previous peak production in 2010.
Dittmar made a new prediction of a 58kton peak in uranium. He would be wrong if not for his error bars (plus or minus 4000 tons) to allow it to have an absolute top of 62 ktons.
The first quarter of 2013 has Kazatomprom and Cameco running 1000 tons ahead of the first quarter in 2012.
Since the recovery of uranium prices since about 2003, there has been a lot of activity in preparing to open new mines in many countries. The WNA reference scenario projects world uranium demand as about 72,680 tU in 2015, and most of this will need to come directly from mines (in 2010, 22% came from secondary sources and this shrunk to 14% in 2012).
Some of the new mines expected to reach substantial production in the next few years are:
Vitimsky Russia 2013 Four Mile Australia 2013 Cigar Lake Canada 2013 Talvivaara Finland 2014 Imouraren Niger 2015 Husab Namibia 2015
Now let us review the uranium and nuclear bets with Dittmar
Michael Dittmar wrote a series of posts about nuclear energy that was published on The Oil Drum in 2009. In the first post of the series, he said that uranium “civilian uranium stocks are expected to be exhausted during the next few years” and “the current uranium supply situation is unsustainable”. Basically lack of uranium production from uranium mines would cause lack of nuclear fuel which would result in steadily dropping nuclear power generation. I made a series of three bets with Dittmar.
1. World Uranium production (I won in 2010, 2011, 2012)
2. World Nuclear power generation bets going to 2018 (I won in 2010, lost 2009, 2011, 2012)
3. Uranium production in Kazakhstan (I won 2010, 2011)
So out of 9 bets, I have won 6 bets and lost 3.
Dittmar Brian Midpoint 2009 2575 TWhe 2600 TWhe 2587.5 Actual 2558 twh. Dittmar wins 2010 2550 TWhe 2630 2590 Actual 2630 twh. Brian wins 2011 2550 2650 2600 Actual 2518 twh. Dittmar wins 2012 2550 2700 2625 Actual 2346 twh. Dittmar wins 2013 2525 2750 2637.5 2014 2250 2800 2525 2015 2250 2900 2575 2016 2250 3200 2725 2017 2250 3500 2875 2018 2250 3800 3025
Dittmar tries to deny it but if Fukushima tsunami had not happened or if there had been an avoidance of the washing away of the diesel fuel to maintain cooling then Japan would not have 40 good reactors shutoff and Germany would not have prematurely shutoff ten reactors. 300 TWh off nuclear power.
The predictions and the bet is for the uranium production of the country of Kazakhstan. So not just Kazatomprom, although that is most of the production.
Again we use the World Nuclear Association numbers of uranium production when reported.
Brian Wang Dittmar Midpoint 2010 16500 tons 15000 tons 15750 tons 17,803 tonnes in 2010. Brian wins 2011 18000 t + 17,999.9 t or less 18000 tons 19,450 tons in 2011. Brian wins
Uranium predictions Brian Wang Dittmar midpoint 2010 56000 tons 45,000 tons 50,500 tons 53,663 tonnes. Brian wins 2011 60000 tons 45,000 52,500 tons 53,494 tons Brian wins 2012 64000 tons 45,000 54,500 tons 58,394 tons Brian wins 2013 68000 tons 45,000 56,500 tons 2014 72000 tons 45,000 58,500 tons 2015 76000 tons 45,000 60,500 tons 2016 80000 tons 45,000 62,500 tons 2017 84000 tons 45,000 64,500 tons 2018 88000 tons 45,000 66,500 tons
The world nuclear generation bet is likely to be won by Dittmar due to Japan and Germany turning off operational reactors because of public fears after Fukushima. Other nuclear generating nations actually did quite well, so the actual miss on generation will not be that large. Nuclear power generation by country is reviewed here.
2012 has seen delays in reactor starts.
There should be about 12 nuclear reactors getting started in 2014.
I am expecting some of Japans reactors to get restarted in 2014 and most of the operating reactors to restart in 2015.
It seems pretty clear for 2013 that I will again win the world uranium production bet and Dittmar will win the world nuclear generation bet. From 2014 onwards I am expecting to win both uranium and nuclear generation bets.
Using his model for all larger existing and planned uranium mines up to 2030, a global uranium mining peak of at most 58 ± 4 ktons around the year 2015 is obtained. Thereafter we predict that uranium mine production will decline to at most 54 ± 5 ktons by 2025 and, with the decline steepening, to at most 41 ± 5 ktons around 2030. This amount will not be sufficient to fuel the existing and planned nuclear power plants during the next 10–20 years. In fact, we find that it will be difficult to avoid supply shortages even under a slow 1%/year worldwide nuclear energy phase-out scenario up to 2025. We thus suggest that a worldwide nuclear energy phase-out is in order.
Again he uses his wrong uranium production projections (he has been correct zero out of five bets times on uranium production bets) to urge the phase out of nuclear power.
Before uranium from seawater, there will be more uranium from regular mines and uranium from phosphate. Uranium from seawater will come when it is commercially needed.
UEQ and Cameco commissioned through a global engineering and professional services consultancy, estimated a capital cost of US$156 million for a base case PhosEnergy plant located at the site of a 1Mtpa P2O5 phosphate facility in the south east United States capable of producing approximately 880,000 pounds of uranium per annum at an estimated cash operating cost of less than US$18 per pound.
The initial focus for commercialisation is expected to be the phosphate fertiliser industry in the USA, where UEQ estimates there is an opportunity to recover approximately 6 million pounds of uranium per annum. Operating in the USA also has several potential synergies with Cameco’s existing US operations. The worldwide PhosEnergy production opportunity is in the region of 20 million pounds of uranium per annum. (3000 to 10,000 tons per year)
Kazatomprom JSC increased uranium production to 4,979 tons in the first quarter of 2013, i.e. to the level of the planned target. According to the report, uranium production by Kazatomprom in the same period of 2012 amounted to 4,566 tons. Up 420 tons vs the same quarter.
Kazakhs government members say they plan to increase their production through 2016, I think from 21,000 by about 4,000 tonne, I think from 21,000 tonne to 25,000 tonne.
Cigar lake is on track for mid-2013 first uranium.
Maintaining first quarter pace and world uranium production will be about 62000 tons for the year in 2013
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.