US uranium production, prices and employment decreased in 2016
Uranium production, prices, and employment all fell in the United States in 2016, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
From 2014 and 2016, production of uranium concentrate decreased to 2.9 million pounds U3O8 in 2016, which is the lowest annual total since 2005.
Production remained low in 2017, totaling 0.45 million pounds during the first quarter. If production remains at its first-quarter level for the rest of the year, annual production would be the lowest since 1952.
Falling uranium prices has impacted the production of uranium. Spot prices fell from $34 per pound (lb) in January 2016 to $18/lb in November, the lowest uranium spot price since May 2004. Prices have stayed below $25/lb so far in 2017.
Uranium market employment data, which includes exploration, mining, milling and processing, and reclamation activities, has correlated closely with changes in uranium prices. In 2016, uranium industry employment fell to 560 employees, the lowest number since 2004.
Employment peaked in 2008 with 1,563 employees. Employment levels then began generally to decline as uranium prices fell and have consecutively for the last four years.
Total commercial uranium inventories, which are inventories owned by owners and operators of civilian nuclear power reactors as well as U.S. supplier inventories, continue to increase. At the end of 2016, they totaled 144 million pounds U3O8 equivalent, which is the highest level since 1988. Inventories have grown in most years since 2003 when commercial uranium inventories equaled 85 million pounds.