The Coming Nuclear crisis
The world's nuclear plants today eat through some 65,000 tons of uranium each year. Of this, the mining industry supplies about 40,000 tons. The rest comes from secondary sources such as civilian and military stockpiles, reprocessed fuel and re-enriched uranium. "But without access to the military stocks, the civilian western uranium stocks will be exhausted by 2013, concludes Dittmar.
Countries such as Japan, that rely on uranium imports, will face uranium shortages as soon as 2013.
Peak uranium refers to the peak of the entire planet's uranium production. Like other Hubbert peaks, the rate of uranium production on Earth will enter a terminal decline. According to Robert Vance of the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency, the world production rate of uranium has already reached its peak in 1980.
In 1980, Robert Vance, while looking back at 40 years of Uranium production through all of the Red Books, found that peak global production was achieved in 1980 at 69,683 tonnes (153.62×106 lb) from 22 countries. In 2003, uranium production totaled 35,600 tonnes (78×106 lb) from 19 countries.
In 1981, Michael Meacher, the former environment minister of the UK 1997-2003, and UK Member of Parliament, reports that peak uranium happened in 1981. He also predicts a major shortage of uranium sooner than 2013 accompanied with hoarding and its value pushed up to the levels of precious metals.
In 2008, Japan’s Kansai Electric Power — which accounts for nearly a third of the country’s total uranium demand — says it plans to buy uranium mines to ensure its long-term supply of the fuel. Its chief manager says he worries that in coming years he won’t be able to buy what he needs "no matter how much you are willing to pay."
Germany, the Czech Republic, France, DR Congo, Gabon, Bulgaria, Tajikistan, Hungary, Romania, Spain, Portugal and Argentina, have already peaked their uranium production and exhausted their uranium resources and must rely on imports for their nuclear programs or abandon them.
Increasingly devastating floods have decreased the production from some of the world's largest Uranium mines in Canada and Australia.
Once society adds up the costs of this heavily subsidised industry, plus supply minus demand; where the costs include the damage created in an unfolding crisis such as Fukushima Daiiachi... then it is clear that nuclear atomic power plants are not sustainable in any way.
Although uranium occurs naturally in many rocks, and even in seawater. It is seldom sufficiently concentrated to be economically recoverable. Like any resource, uranium cannot be mined at any desired concentration. No matter the technology, at some point it is too costly to mine lower grade ores.
One life cycle study argues that below 0.01–0.02% (100-200 ppm) in ore, the energy required to extract and process the ore to supply the fuel, operate reactors and dispose properly comes close to the energy gained by burning the uranium in the reactor. Mining companies consider concentrations greater than 0.075% (750 ppm) as ore, or rock economical to mine.
The reprocessed plutonium MOX fuel rods are clearly an attempt to slow down the process of decay surrounding the insane nuclear industry. They have no future. Especially as re-processing stockpiles of plutonium is a very dirty messy business, creating more waste than if the spent fuel is left to decay.