Joint OECD/NEA- IAEA Uranium Group hold 50th meeting amidst growing global demand
26 November 2013 | Continued global growth in nuclear power programmes and associated uranium demand will keep the joint Uranium Group (UG) of the OECD/NEA and the IAEA busy, despite declining uranium prices, participants heard at the UG’s landmark 50th meeting in early November.
The UG is perhaps the most successful long-term cooperative effort between the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the IAEA. Thus, NEA Director General Luis Echavarri highlighted the importance of the UG’s work and its biennial publication Uranium: Resources, Production and Demand, commonly referred to as the “Red Book”, at the Group’s 50th Meeting held in Paris on 6 – 8 November 2013.
With the projected worldwide expansion of nuclear power programmes and the associated uranium demand, the UG is expected to continue to address future challenges regarding the long-term supply of uranium to fuel nuclear power development.
Doug Underhill, the UG’s former Scientific Secretary for the IAEA, emphasized that the UG is now needed more than ever as the outlook for nuclear energy improves, albeit in a volatile, uncertain world with associated short and long-term challenges and opportunities. Ian Emsley of the World Nuclear Association (WNA) presented the recent WNA Market Report which outlines industry views of future uranium demand. Both presentations supported the view that nuclear power and the related uranium demand has been on the rise over the last decades and is expected to do so at a more rapid rate in the coming years.
The 50th UG meeting focussed on the Red Book’s next edition, which is currently in progress. Since it was first published in 1965, the Red Book’s scope and topics it addressed have gone beyond the issues of uranium resources, production and demand. They now include such topics as environmental issues and activities related to uranium production and non-traditional fuel supplies, such as using plutonium in mixed-oxide fuels, uranium from former weapons materials and potential supply from the re-enrichment of depleted uranium enrichment tails. Hence, the publication is a unique historical reference for not only uranium resources, production and demand, but also for the related evolving needs and activities of Member States.
The Red Book’s 25th edition will be published jointly by the OECD-NEA and the IAEA in Spring 2014.
By Adrienne Hanly, IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy