Nuclear

The region has a significant share of nuclear installed capacity, which totalled 93.9 GW. Identified uranium resources were estimated in 2015 at 421,000 tonnes and production totalled in 2014 at 1,550 tonnes per year.

China has 31 nuclear power reactors in operation, 21 under construction, and more about to start construction. Additional reactors are planned, including some of the world’s most advanced, to give more than three-fold increase in nuclear capacity to at least 58 GWe by 2020-21, then some 150 GWe by 2030. The impetus for increasing nuclear power share in China is increasingly due to air pollution from coal-fired plants. Development of nuclear power in China commenced in 1970 and from about 2005 the industry moved into a rapid development phase, which is predicted to continue. The government is supporting the growth of nuclear capacity with increasing production and exploration of uranium resources. New exploration in several areas of China in 2013 and 2014 increased the identified uranium resources by about 100,700 tU to a total of 366,200 tU (in situ). The additional resources are distributed in northern China (a total of 71,000 tU in the Yili, Erlian, Erdos, Songliao and Bayingebi basins, as well as Longshoushan) and in southern China (a total of 29,000 tU in the Rouoergai and Dazhou uranium fields). According to statistical studies conducted by several institutes in China, 2 million tonnes of potential uranium resources are predicted. Uranium production was in 2014 around 1,550 tU.

Mongolia has substantial identified uranium resources, estimated in 2015 at 141,521 tU. Prognosticated resources amounted in 2015 to 21,000 tU and speculative resources totalled 1,390,000 tU. The Mongol-Priargun uranium province includes the main uranium prospects, Dornod and Gurvanbulag, in the east and northeast of the country, in volcanogenic mineralisation. The Gobi-Tamsag uranium province in southern Mongolia includes the Sainshand deposits in sediments, notably Zoovch Ovoo. Uranium is currently not being produced in the country, but a number of mines are in the planning stage of development.

Japan’s first commercial nuclear power reactor began operating in 1966, and nuclear energy has been a national strategic priority since 1973. This is now under review following the 2011 Fukushima accident and government has stated an indicative share of nuclear of 20-22% by 2030 which implies a significant number of closures of existing plants. There is a programme of reactor restarts underway that has seen the first two restarts, Sendai 1 in September 2015, and Sendai 2 in November 2015. There are a total 42 reactors operable and able to restart, and 24 of these are in the process of restart approvals. Japan does not have substantial uranium resources, with about 6,600 tU of reasonably assured resources recoverable identified so far. Accordingly, the country relies on uranium imports to fuel its nuclear power plants.

South Korea is a leading user and developer of nuclear energy. It also exports nuclear technology and is currently building four nuclear reactors in the UAE under a $20 billion contract. Korea has 24 nuclear reactors (20 PWRs and 4 PHWRs) in operation, with a reported aggregate net capacity of 22.4 GWe and which provide about one-third of South Korea’s electricity. Nuclear energy is a strategic priority for South Korea, and capacity is planned to increase by 70% to 37 GWe by 2029 which it is projected would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 37% below business as usual levels. Three reactors are currently under construction. Korea is seeking relief from treaty commitments with the USA which currently constrain its fuel cycle options. Uranium for fuel comes from Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia, Niger and elsewhere – 5,000 tU being required in 2014, and 8,900 tU being anticipated demand in 2020. Korea had no known and quantified uranium resources.

Sources: OECD-NEA (2016) and World Nuclear Association (2016)

Regional Identified Uranium Resources

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Production and electricity generation

Electricity Generation332thousand GWh per year

Nuclear Installed Capacity88.8GW

Uranium Production1.55thousand tonnes per year

Identified Uranium Resources421thousand tonnes

(at < US $260 / kg U)

Identified Uranium Resources by region

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Nuclear Installed Capacity by region

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Identified Uranium Resources by country

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Nuclear Installed Capacity by country

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Top Uranium producing countries

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Top electricity generating countries

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