The latest edition of the Red Book, Uranium 2014: Resources, Production and Demand, from the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD/NEA), which covers the market up to the end of 2012, has been published. It concludes that the existing uranium resource base exceeds projected requirements for the forseeable future.

In the near-term, predicting demand growth is particularly uncertain because China has not released its nuclear growth plans after 2020, and reactor restarts remain unclear in Japan.

At present, Fukushima has hurt public confidence, and resulted in the need for capital expenditures for improved safety. The large supply of unconventional gas in North America and the hesitancy of investment following the global financial crisis has made nuclear power less competitive in deregulated markets, the report says.

"Government and market policies that recognise the benefits of low-carbon electricity production and the security of energy supply provided by nuclear power plants could help alleviate these competitive pressures, but it is not yet clear when and how widely such measures can be adopted. Nuclear power nonetheless is projected to grow considerably in regulated electricity markets with increasing electricity demand and a growing need for clean air electricity generation."

In the long-term (to 2035), uranium demand will have to continue to grow, the report argues, because of the electricity demand due to population growth, particularly in developing countries. The Red Book projects that world nuclear electricity generating capacity by 2035 is expected to increase between 7 per cent on the low and 82 per cent on the high side.

Total identified uranium resources have increased by more than 7% since 2011, adding almost ten years of global reactor requirements to the existing resource base, but the majority of the increases occurred in resource categories with higher production costs, according to the report.

This increased resource base has been identified thanks to a 23% increase in uranium exploration and mine development expenditures between 2010 and 2012, it says.

Global uranium mine production between 2010 and 2012 increased by 7.6%, which is a lower rate of growth compared to the last reporting period, but increases were again mainly the result of rising production in Kazakhstan, currently the world’s leading producer, it says.

To minimise the social and environmental impacts, efforts are being made to develop transparent, safe, secure and well-regulated operations, it says.

The 500-page report, the agency’s 25th, is available for free download by clicking the link HERE.