Email of the day (3)
Comment of the Day

January 06 2011

Commentary by David Fuller

Email of the day (3)

On nuclear power, uranium mining and China's 'breakthrough' in reprocessing:
"You mentioned towards the end of today's (Tuesday) audio that you are very bullish on the prospects for nuclear power and by extension, the uranium mining sector. Does the report the other day from China that they have achieved a breakthrough in reprocessing affect your view? This is from which quotes a Chinese official as saying that the country's reserves have thus been extended to 3,000 years."

David Fuller's view Three thousand years? Talk about shooting from the hip! This sounds like an attempt to damp down speculative expectations, not least among investors buying uranium funds. Meanwhile, China continues to stockpile yellowcake.

My understanding is that the reprocessing technology has been around for a while, known to France, Russia and probably the USA, before China caught up. It also happens to be prohibitively expensive. This process will improve over time, like all commercially useful technologies. And the world will certainly not run out of uranium, just as it will not run out of oil or coal. However the cost of production will inevitably rise in real terms as the richest and most accessible sources are depleted.

My view is that the serious prospect of nuclear reprocessing, however expensive or remote today, can only enhance the appeal of nuclear power, not least among greens and other environmentalists. The most sobering and depressing aspect of nuclear power throughout my lifetime to date has been the understanding that unbelievably toxic waste would present a massively dangerous, expensive and ultimately unreliable storage problem for millennia. Not, however, as the march of technology steadily reduces that storage risk.

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