In January 2018, two American uranium companies filed a Section 232 Petition pushing for the Trump administration to impose a quota requiring that 25 percent of domestic consumption be sourced within the United States.
This resulted in 18 months of uncertainty that suppressed uranium prices in the global market, which had a negative impact on some of the mining operations in Namibia.
However, on July 12 Trump turned down the request, indicating that importation of uranium’s yellowcake into the US does not pose any threat to the country’s security.
He disagreed with a US Commerce Department the investigation that found uranium imports threatened to impair US national security.
Instead, he ordered a 90-day governmental review by a working group of federal agencies with respect to the entire nuclear fuel supply chain
This has come as a big relief to players in the Namibian uranium mining industry, who say the decision is expected to lead to a normalisation of the uranium market.
“It is indeed good news for Namibia as we have several projects in the pipeline, which can come to fruition when the uranium price increases and which will then need a market for their products,” Namibian Uranium Association executive director Gabi Schneider told local media.
The association is the advocacy body that represents the uranium industry.
Australia’s Paladin Energy, the owner of Namibia’s Langer Heinrich uranium mine, also welcomed the decision.
“Since the petition was lodged early last year, we have seen a reluctance by both American and non-USA utilities to enter long-term off-take agreements with producers and instead they have drawn down their inventories, which has contributed to suppressed uranium prices,” Scott Sullivan, chief executive officer of Paladin Energy, said in a statement.
He said players in the uranium industry now “expect a normalisation of the term market to follow and strengthening prices moving forward.”
With low spot prices of uranium in the global market, Paladin Energy was forced to place the mine on care and maintenance last year.
Brandon Munro, the chief executive officer of Australia Stock Exchange (ASX)-listed Bannerman Resources also welcomed the outcome as a highly positive for the uranium sector.
He said the global uranium market activity is now expected to return toward more normalized levels.
“Moreover, this outcome is particularly positive for non-US uranium companies as it maintains open market access to the US uranium market,” Munro said in a statement through ASX.
Bannerman Resources own 95% stake in Etango uranium project in Namibia.
Namibia is home to some of the biggest uranium operations including Husab Mine, Rössing uranium mine.
The mineral-rich southern African country has significant uranium mines capable of providing 10% of world mining output, according to The World Nuclear Association.