EU downplays nuclear production fears following Niger coup

EU nuclear agency Euratom envisages no immediate risk to nuclear power production in Europe should Niger cut its deliveries of uranium.

Concerns have been raised after a military a junta seized power in the West African country last week. Niger was the second-largest supplier of natural uranium to the European Union last year.

Euratom has said that utilities in the bloc have enough uranium inventories to fuel its nuclear power reactors for three years.

“If imports from Niger are being cut, there are no immediate risks to the security of nuclear power production in the short term,” the EU agency said.

The EU’s executive European Commission also said the 27-nation bloc had “sufficient inventories of uranium to mitigate any short-term supply risks”.

“Medium and long-term, there are enough deposits on the world market” to cover EU needs, a spokesman for the executive said.

Euratom added that in 2022 Niger delivered 2,975 tU of natural uranium, or 25,4% of the EU’s supplies. Kazakhstan was the biggest supplier for the bloc, with Canada third.

The agency said natural uranium equivalent in inventories owned by EU utilities last year totalled 35,710 tU, compared to average annual consumption of around 12,500 tU.

It said the bloc could diversify imports in up to three years, including from currently idled production sites in Canada, Australia and Namibia, as well as from new deposits.