US Uranium Imports by Supplying Country

Nuclear power plant (courtesy of Pixabay.com)

Nuclear power plant

As political tensions flare between the United States and Russia, the vital supply line of enriched uranium exported from Russia to America is put at serious risk.

A shutdown of Russia’s enriched uranium exports can lead to much higher uranium prices due to a stark imbalance between America’s enriched uranium supply and demand. During 2016, only 11% of uranium delivered to US reactors was produced in the United States–a large portion of America’s enriched uranium supplies coming from the Russian Federation.

Overall, in 2017 America purchased US$2.1 billion worth of enriched and natural uranium exported by about a dozen trade partners around the globe. That dollar amount reflects a -39.6% reduction from the $2.9 billion that the US spent on imported uranium 5 years earlier in 2013.

Uranium is a silvery-white metal with unique nuclear properties. The main non-military use of uranium is as a fuel for nuclear power plants. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, nuclear power plants process a specific type of uranium known as U-235 as fuel because its atoms are split apart relatively easily.

US import data presented below is separated into two distinct forms. Enriched U-235 uranium is recorded under six-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code 284420 in contrast to 284410 for natural uranium and its compounds.

Of the $2.1 billion in American uranium imports during 2017, 68.5% ($1.4 billion) was for enriched uranium while 31.5% ($646.3 million) encompassed purchases of natural uranium and related compounds.

Countries Exporting Uranium to America

Enriched

Below are the 9 countries from which the United States purchases the highest dollar value worth of enriched U-235 uranium. These suppliers accounted for all US imports of enriched uranium during 2017.

  1. Russia: US$639.9 million (45.5% of US enriched uranium imports)
  2. United Kingdom: $224.8 million (16%)
  3. Germany: $218.5 million (15.5%)
  4. Netherlands: $194.1 million (13.8%)
  5. France: $80.3 million (5.7%)
  6. Sweden: $18 million (1.3%)
  7. China: $13.6 million (1%)
  8. Spain: $12 million (0.9%)
  9. Kazakhstan: $4.2 million (0.3%)

Fastest-growing among America’s enriched uranium suppliers from 2013 to 2017 were Spain and Sweden (both up from nil in 2013) then France (up 19%).

Leading the decliners was Kazakhstan (down -93%) followed by China (down -90.2%), the United Kingdom (down -70.3%) and the Netherlands (down -62.7%).

Natural

Below are the 8 countries from which the United States purchases the highest dollar value worth of natural uranium including its compounds. These suppliers accounted for all US imports of natural uranium during 2017.

  1. Canada: US$585.4 million (90.6% of US natural uranium imports)
  2. Kazakhstan: $46.2 million (7.2%)
  3. South Africa: $14.5 million (2.3%)
  4. Sweden: $74,000 (0.01%)
  5. Switzerland: $34,000 (0.01%)
  6. United Kingdom: $14,000 (0.002%)
  7. France: $13,000 (0.002%)
  8. Japan: $4,000 (0.001%)

Fastest-growing among exporters of natural uranium to America from 2013 to 2017 were Sweden (up from nil in 2013) then Kazakhstan (up 460.3%), the United Kingdom (up 250%) then Canada (up 40%).

Leading the declining suppliers of natural uranium to the US were Japan (down -99.8%), South Africa (down -63.1%) and Switzerland (down -33.3%).

Deficit Creators

America does produce and sell its own uranium on international markets. In 2017, the United States shipped $200.1 million worth of enriched uranium to its trade partners plus another $365.1 million in natural uranium.

However, American revenues from exported enriched uranium fall far short of the $1.4 billion that the US spent on imported enriched uranium thus resulting in a -$1.2 billion product category deficit. Similarly, America shipped $365.1 million worth of natural uranium compared to $646.3 million in US imports of natural uranium thus generating America’s -$281.2 million negative trade balance for natural uranium in 2017.

Below you will find the 7 countries that caused America’s country-specific deficits from buying and selling enriched uranium on international markets, incurring a subtotal deficit of -$1.4 billion for 2017.

  1. Russia: -US$639.6 million (down -33.4% since 2013)
  2. United Kingdom: -$223.1 million (down -70.4%)
  3. Germany: -$218.4 million (down -36.2%)
  4. Netherlands: -$192.6 million (down -63%)
  5. France: -$80.3 million (up 37.7%)
  6. Sweden: -$18 million (reversing a $29.7 million US surplus in 2013)
  7. China: -$13.5 million (down -90.2%)

The following 6 trade partners created a subtotal US deficit totaling -$641.5 million during 2017 specifically for natural uranium.

  1. Canada: -US$580.6 million (up 92.1% since 2013)
  2. Kazakhstan: -$46.2 million (up -460.3%)
  3. South Africa: -$14.5 million (down -63.1%)
  4. Sweden: -$66,000 (from nil in 2013)
  5. Switzerland: -$34,000 (up 183.3%)
  6. France: -$13,000 (reversing a $26.6 million surplus in 2013)


See also US Iron and Steel Imports by Supplier Countries, America’s Top Trading Partners, United States Top 10 Imports and US Aluminum Imports by Supplying Country

Research Sources:
Gabriel Friedman for the National Post, How U.S.-Russia tensions could revive Canada’s struggling uranium mines. Accessed on April 18, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 18, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on April 18, 2018

The World Factbook, Field Listing: Exports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on April 18, 2018

U.S. Energy Information Administration, Nuclear Explained: Where Our Uranium Comes From, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on April 18, 2018

Wikipedia, Uranium. Accessed on April 18, 2018

Wikipedia, Category:Uranium mining companies by country. Accessed on April 18, 2018