Forty Years of Uranium Resources, Production and Demand in Perspective

The Red Book Retrospective

image of Forty Years of Uranium Resources, Production and Demand in Perspective
The biannual Uranium Resources, Production and Demand, also known as the "Red Book," was first published in 1965 and has since grown to be a recognised world reference on uranium. Over the 40 years of its existence, the Red Book has collected an impressive quantity of official data supplied by governments. This Red Book retrospective was undertaken to collect, collate, analyse and publish all of the key information collected in the 20 editions of the Red Book published between 1965 and 2004. Additionally, every effort has been made to fill in gaps in the record to provide the most complete and exhaustive information possible. As a result, the Red Book retrospective gives a full historical profile of the world uranium industry in the areas of exploration, resources, production, reactor-related requirements, inventories and price. It provides in-depth information relating to the histories of the major uranium-producing countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany (including the former German Democratic Republic), the Russian Federation (including the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and the United States. For the first time, for example, a comprehensive look at annual and cumulative production and demand of uranium since the inception of the atomic age is possible. Besides reporting and documenting the historical data, expert analyses provide fresh insights into important aspects of the industry including: the cost of discovery, resources to production ratios and the time to reach production after discovery, among others. Taken together, this Red Book retrospective provides the most complete record of the uranium industry publicly available, dating from the birth of civilian nuclear energy through to the dawn of the 21st century.

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Epilogue – lessons learnt

Nuclear Energy Agency

Since its inception after World War II, the modern uranium industry has evolved from one exclusively satisfying military requirements to the current emphasis on satisfying fuel requirements for civilian nuclear reactors generating electricity. As the industry changed, so too did the Red Book. Resource terminology was expanded to include more definitive resource confidence levels in order to provide industry and government planners with better tools to assess the adequacy of uranium resources to meet future requirements. Resource production cost categories were periodically adjusted in response to changing market price and sections were added or deleted from successive Red Books as the industry matured and responded to changing market and regulatory requirements, as well as societal expectations. As the civilian nuclear industry grew, concerns about the adequacy of resources to meet future requirements emerged. That concern led to Red Book projections of nuclear power and related uranium requirements well into the future. A look back on these projections gives sobering lessons as to the impact of world and industry-specific events on the accuracy of these projections. The oil crisis of 1973 propelled nuclear power into the spotlight as an alternative to fossil fuels, which in turn led to overly optimistic projections of growth in generating capacity and uranium requirements. Subsequently, the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents in 1979 and 1986, respectively, had a chilling affect on nuclear power that lasted for decades.

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