German electricity consumers could suffer double-digit rate hikes in 2008 to 2010 due to recent troubles with uranium mining, International Atomic Energy Agency uranium geologist David Miller has predicted.

Mr Miller believes that that recent troubles with uranium mining will force German utilities to pay nearly $100/pound next year to fuel the country’s 17 nuclear reactors, which will have a knock-on effect on consumers. Indeed, he predicts that German residential, commercial and industrial electricity consumers could suffer a double-digit rate hike starting in 2008.

The recent announcement of a two-year delay at Cameco’s Cigar Lake uranium mine in Canada was the uranium equivalent for the oil market to lose Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production – a loss of nearly 10% of world uranium consumption – according to Mr Miller. German, US and other world utilities were counting on the Canadian uranium project to supply nuclear fuel for their reactors.

To further aggravate the tight supply of uranium, workers at Namibia’s Rossing uranium mine have also been on strike recently over a pay dispute. Rossing presently supplies more than 7% of the world’s uranium requirements.

Aggressive buying and deal-making by China, Russia, Japan and others has also locked up future uranium mining production, which may put further pressure on Germany’s utilities. Nuclear energy provides Germany with about 30% of the country’s electrical power.

Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors may be at risk of a ‘crisis’ fuel shortage between 2008 and 2015, which could also send electricity bills soaring higher, Mr Miller warned, adding that he also blames two decades of negligence by American utilities for Germany’s potential nuclear fuel shortage.

In sharp contrast, over in Turkmenistan, the country’s leader, Saparmurat Niyazov, has promised its citizens free gas, electricity and water through to 2030, according to a report by the Associated Press. This represents another extension to an existing deal announced in 1993 and extended in 2003 to provide these services for free until 2020.