The Trump administration is reportedly nearing a move that could result in tariffs on uranium imports

wilbur ross

  • The Trump administration is planning to start an investigation into uranium imports to the US.
  • The investigation would be conducted using the same method that allowed Trump to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
  • Uranium from US producers made up only 11% of the deliveries to US nuclear power reactors in 2016, less than the amount that came from each Canada, Kazakhstan, Australia, and Russia.

The Trump administration is about to set off an investigation that could result in tariffs on imported uranium, according to a new report.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the Commerce Department is nearing a decision to launch an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act into the national security risks of imported uranium. That type of investigation was also the method the Trump administration used to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

US uranium miners Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy requested the investigation, saying the US’s reliance on foreign uranium poses a threat to national security. Paul Goranson, COO at Energy Fuels, told Bloomberg that the reliance on uranium from state-owned companies that “obviously have different global strategic objectives than we do” should prompt action.

Both companies have been publicly agitating for a Section 232 investigation since filing a request in January. In a March editorial for The Hill, Energy Fuels CEO Mark Chalmers and Ur-Energy CEO Jeffrey Klenda warned that without tariffs, the US uranium mining industry could disappear.

State-owned entities in antagonistic governments are targeting our energy industry. We must ensure that a domestic nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium mining, survives,” the CEOs wrote. “If we cede control of a critical fuel to Russia and its allies, the threat to our security is incalculable.”

According to the US Energy Information Administration, or EIA, only 11% of the uranium delivered to US nuclear power reactors came from domestic producers in 2016. Meanwhile, 89% of the uranium used in US reactors came from foreign suppliers, with 25% of the total from Canada, 24% from Kazakhstan, 20% from Australia, and 14% from Russia.

There is no timeline for the announcement of an investigation, according to the report. Some officials told Bloomberg that the administration is waiting until the firestorm over Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin blows over.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told the Senate Finance Committee on June 20 that a decision on an investigation into uranium imports would come “very shortly.”

Following the report, Energy Fuels’ and Ur-Energy’s stocks both soared more than 20% in after-hours trading.

A tariff on uranium imports would be the lastest protectionist measure from the Trump administration. In addition to the steel and aluminum tariffs, the Trump administration has hit $34 billion worth of Chinese imports to the US with tariffs. The administration is also set to slap tariffs on another $16 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The Commerce Department is also investigating tariffs on auto imports and car parts coming into the US. A move to restrict auto imports would likely push the US into a trade war with major allies like the European Union and Canada.

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