In 2011, Japan’s Fukushima power plant was hit by a severe earthquake and tsunami in the region, causing the most severe nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster. This resulted in the meltdown of its reactors and discharge of radioactive water, forcing residents to evacuate their homes.
Following this disaster, Japan’s nuclear power production dropped from 30% to just 2%. All nuclear plants in the country were either closed down or operations were suspended, and other countries became wary of nuclear power generation also, cutting down on their own operations. Because of this, the price of uranium has halved since 2011 and is struggling to regain its peak.
Nevertheless, as you can see from the table above, the decline in nuclear production from developed countries such as Japan has paved the way for emerging economies such as Kazakhstan and Namibia to take charge of the uranium market. Although many power plants are not in use anymore, each country that is part of the Paris Agreement must adhere to the rules of producing at least 20-22% of its energy portfolio in nuclear power, which will raise the demand for uranium once again.
As the world’s largest uranium consumer, US president Biden describes nuclear power as “critical clean energy technologies” and the country is striving to reclaim domestic uranium mining as one of its goals, rather than solely relying on imports from the biggest producers above.