In the interest of its Treaty missions, ESA’s Statutes entrust it with a market observatory role. ESA has a duty to provide the Community with expertise, information and advice on any subject connected with the operation of the nuclear market.
To this end, ESA monitors the market in order to identify trends likely to affect the Union’s security of supply of nuclear materials and services. It aims to provide a wide range of information on nuclear market developments, as well as making reports on the EU market, average prices, total supply and demand etc. available to the public.
Through developing this web page, the Agency is seeking to inform market actors and observers about the current situation, market trends and, where appropriate, to highlight any possible shortcomings in the future.
The information refers, inter alia, to natural uranium price indices, including those calculated by ESA, to evaluations relating to the level of uranium supply and demand, and also to prominent events associated with the various stages of the nuclear fuel cycle in Europe and in the world.
Uranium EU Price: ESA Indices
ESA publishes on an annual basis three EU natural uranium price indices, based only on deliveries made to EU utilities or their procurement organisations under natural uranium and enriched uranium purchasing contracts in which the price is stated.
Since uranium is priced in US dollars, the fluctuation of the €/US$ exchange rate influenced the level of the calculated price indices.
In order to establish a natural uranium price which excludes the conversion cost if the latter was not specified, ESA applied a rigorously calculated average conversion price, based on reported conversion prices and market information available.
- ESA spot U3O8 price: the weighted average of U3O8 prices paid by EU utilities for uranium delivered under spot contracts was calculated as:
EUR 137.26/kgU contained in U3O8 (not calculated in 2021)
USD 55.59/lb U3O8 (not calculated in 2021)
- ESA multiannual U3O8 price: the weighted average of U3O8 prices paid by EU utilities for uranium delivered under multiannual contracts was calculated as:
EUR 101.28/kgU contained in U3O8 (14 % up from EUR 89.00/kgU in 2021)
USD 41.02/lb U3O8 (1% up from USD 40.49/lb U3O8 in 2021)
- ESA ‘MAC-3’ multiannual U3O8 price: the weighted average of U3O8 prices paid by EU utilities, only for multiannual contracts which were concluded or for which the pricing method was amended in the past three years and under which deliveries were made, was calculated as:
EUR 76.19/kgU contained in U3O8 (18 % down from EUR 92.75/kgU in 2021)
USD 30.86/lb U3O8 (27 % down from USD 42.17/lb U3O8 in 2021)
ESA indices 2012-2021
ESA average prices for natural uranium
New multiannual contracts
NB. In 2020 and 2021, the ESA U3O8 spot price was not calculated because there were not enough transactions (less than 3) to calculate the index.
Starting from 2011, ESA publishes a spot price indicator on a quarterly basis, provided that there are at least three spot contracts concluded by the EU utilities (excluding exchanges and loans), and that the price indicated is fixed and not expressed as a formula.
ESA quarterly spot uranium price
ESA quarterly spot uranium price
Number of spot natural uranium contracts concluded by EU utilities (including purchases, sales, exchanges and loans)2
Total number of contracts processed by ESA (including contracts, amendments and notifications on the front-end activities)2
1 prices converted with use of ECB reference exchange rate (www.ecb.europa.eu)
2 including purchases, sales, exchanges and loans
Disclaimer: This information is made available for information purposes only, and ESA can take no legal responsibility for the use made of it. ESA ensures confidentiality and physical protection of the commercial data.
To calculate the quarterly average price (simple average), the original contract prices are converted, using the quarterly average exchange rate published by the European Central Bank, into EUR per kilogram of uranium in the chemical form U3O8.
To establish a price which excludes the conversion cost if it was not specified, ESA applies a calculated quarterly average conversion spot price indicator (based on conversion price indicators provided by consulting companies).
The date of signature by ESA is considered as the contract date.
In order to meet confidentiality rules, the indices are calculated only if there are three contracts with prices.
Uranium supply and demand
In 2022, 1 602 tU of fresh fuel was loaded into commercial reactors. It was produced using 10 993 tU of natural uranium and 57 tU of reprocessed uranium as feed, enriched with 8 340 tSW.
The fuel loaded into EU reactors had an average enrichment assay of 3.93%, with 80% falling between 3.03% and 4.83%. The average tails assay was 0.20%, with over 80% falling between 0.16% and 0.24%.
MOX (mixed oxide) fuel was used in several reactors in France and the Netherlands. MOX fuel loaded into nuclear power plants (NPPs) in the EU contained 3 007 kg plutonium in 2022, a 38% decrease from 2021. Use of MOX resulted in estimated savings of 277 tU and 197 tSW.
The amount of natural uranium included in fuel loaded into reactors in 2022, including natural uranium feed, reprocessed uranium, and savings from MOX fuel, totalled 11 327 tU.
Savings in natural uranium resulting from the use of MOX fuel together with reprocessed uranium give the amount of feed material (which otherwise would have to be used) coming from domestic secondary sources. All this provided about 3.0% of the EU’s annual natural uranium requirements.
Reprocessing of spent fuel
It is up to the Member States and their corresponding national policies whether they opt to consider the spent fuel as radioactive waste or as a valuable source of new material after reprocessing. According to European Commission report, 7 Member States out of 27 had reprocessed spent fuel or chosen the reprocessing option, and 2 Member States are keeping that possibility open.
Plutonium and MOX fuel
MOX fuel is produced by mixing plutonium recovered from spent fuel and depleted uranium obtained from the enrichment process. Use of MOX fuel affects reactor performance and safety requirements. Reactors have to be adapted for this kind of fuel and must obtain a special licence before using it.
MOX fuel behaves similarly (though not identically) to the enriched uranium-based fuel used in most reactors. The main reasons for its use are the possibility of using plutonium recovered from spent fuel, non-proliferation concerns, and economic considerations. Reprocessing spent fuel and recycling recovered plutonium with uranium in MOX fuel increases the availability of nuclear material, reduces the need for enrichment services and contributes to security of supply.
Supply of natural uranium
In 2022, demand for natural uranium in the EU represented approximately 18% of global uranium requirements. EU utilities purchased a total of 11 724 tU in 119 deliveries under multiannual and spot contracts. The deliveries covered are those to EU utilities or their procurement organisations, excluding research reactors. The natural uranium equivalent contained in enriched uranium purchases, when stated, is also taken into account.
As in previous years, supplies under multiannual contracts constituted the main source for meeting demand in the EU. Deliveries of natural uranium to EU utilities under multiannual contracts accounted for 11 493 tU (of which 10 820 tU with reported prices) or 98% of total deliveries, whereas the remaining 2% (231 tU) was purchased under spot contracts.
On average, the quantity of natural uranium delivered was 100 tU per delivery under multiannual contracts.
Demand for natural uranium in the EU represented approximately 18% of global uranium requirements
Natural uranium contained in the fuel loaded into reactors in 2022 totalled 10 993 tU. Contrary to the past years, when utilities since 2013 were buying more uranium than loading into reactors, in 2022 EU utilities loaded more material into reactors than they bought. Figure 2 shows the quantities of natural uranium feed contained in fuel loaded into EU reactors and natural uranium delivered to utilities under purchasing contracts.
For the first time in 8 years, in 2022 utilities bought more material than loaded into reactors.
Origins of uranium
In 2022, natural uranium supplies to the EU continued to come from diverse sources. The origin of natural uranium supplied to EU utilities has remained similar to 2021, although there have been some changes in market share.
|Origin||Quantity||Share (%)||Change in quantities|
|South Africa and Namibia||262||2.23||5545.60|
NB.: Because of rounding, totals may not add up
Four countries provided more than 91% of all natural uranium supplied to the EU in 2022. Kazakhstan, Niger, and Canada were the top three countries delivering natural uranium, providing 74.19% of the total. Russia followed them, with share of 16.89%, which included natural uranium contained in enriched uranium products (EUP).
Over 91% of natural uranium supplied to the EU came from four producing countries.
In terms of trends, deliveries of uranium from Australia decreased by more than 82% and from Russia by 16%. They were compensated by the deliveries from Canada, which increased by more than 50%, Uzbekistan, which increased by 171%, and deliveries executed from the region of South Africa and Namibia.
Natural uranium produced in countries of Russia-centred Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) accounted for 47.47% of all natural uranium delivered to EU utilities. CIS deliveries amounted to 5 565 tU (including re-enriched tails), which is 1.7% more in quantities than teh year before . Natural uranium originated in non-CIS countries accounted for 6 159 tU, which means a drop by over 5% in quantities as compared with the previous year.
During 2022, EU utilities, producers and intermediaries notified ESA of 3 new contracts to provide conversion services and 4 amendments to already notified conversion contracts.
Under separate conversion contracts, 7 660 tU were converted, accounting for 70% of all conversion service deliveries to EU utilities. The remaining 30%, or 3 274 tU, were delivered under contracts other than conversion contracts (purchases of natural UF6, EUP, bundled contracts for fuel assemblies).
Conversion service deliveries to EU utilities were 10% lower than in 2021.
As regards the providers of conversion services, 37,34% of EU requirements were provided by Orano / Comurhex, followed by Rosatom (22,35%), Cameco (21,16%), and ConverDyn (16,30%).
Provision of conversion services to EU utilities
Quantity in 2021 (tU)
Share in 2021 (%)
Quantity in 2022 (tU)
Share in 2020 (%)
Change in quantities 2021/2022 (%)
N.B.: Because of rounding, totals may not add up.
NB.: 2020 and before includes EU27+UK
The enrichment services (separative work) provided to EU utilities in 2022 totalled 10 732 tSW, delivered in 1 628 tonnes of low-enriched uranium (tLEU), which contained the equivalent of 12 356 tonnes of natural uranium feed. In 2022, enrichment service deliveries to EU utilities were 4% higher compared to 2021, with NPP operators opting for an average enrichment assay of 4.22% and an average tails assay of 0.19%.
Origin of enrichment services to EU utilities in 2022
Uranium feed (kgU)
|Russia||458||3 710||3 239||30%|
NB.: 2020 and before includes EU27+UK
(*) other non-EU
The main fuel manufacturers are also reactor vendors, usually supplying the initial cores and early reloads for reactors of their own design. The largest fuel fabrication capacity can be found in the EU (Germany, Spain, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom), Russia and the United States.
The market is very competitive. As a result, a trend of continuously improving fuel design has emerged, focusing on enhanced burnups and improved performance.
Most EU utilities have access to at least two alternative fuel fabricators. In stark contrast with the situation elsewhere, the dependence on a single design and supplier of fuel for VVER reactors remains a significant vulnerability to the security of supply.
The Euratom Supply Agency notes the efforts by operators and producers to design, license, create fabrication capacity and contract alternative fuel for VVER reactors. Some countries dependent on VVER type reactors have made first steps to diversify the fuels and signed already contracts with alternative suppliers or are in negotiation process.
At the end of 2022, the natural uranium equivalent in inventories owned by EU utilities totalled 35 710 tU. The inventories represent uranium at different stages of the nuclear fuel cycle (natural uranium, in-process for conversion, enrichment, or fuel fabrication), stored at EU or other nuclear facilities.
The changes in the aggregate natural uranium inventories do not necessarily reflect the difference between the total natural uranium equivalent loaded into reactors and uranium delivered to EU utilities, as the level of inventories is subject to movements of loaned material, sales of uranium to third parties and one-off national transfers of material.
Based on average annual EU gross uranium reactor requirements (12 417 tU per year), uranium inventories can fuel EU utilities’ nuclear power reactors for 3 years on average. However, the average conceals a wide range, although all utilities keep a sufficient quantity of inventories for at least one reload.
Uranium inventories can fuel EU utilities’ nuclear power reactors for 3 years on average
Further analysis of EU utilities inventories shows that the major part of inventories are located on the territory of EU, however a part of inventories are located outside of the EU, small part related to future deliveries is located in unknown places.
Following a period of contraction since 2016 (a fall of 5% in 2017 and 10% in 2018), stabilization of uranium concentrate production levels was significantly disrupted, among various reasons, by the pandemic crisis in 2020. Various key players in the global primary production market reported lower-than-expected results in their yearly financial reports.
Nonetheless, industry observers caution that forecasts of future demand for uranium remain very uncertain and that secondary and other sources of uranium need to be considered as alternative feedstock for nuclear fuel. In the medium and long term, demand for natural uranium could be expected to increase due to the projected commissioning of new power plants in China, etc.
Forecasts of future demand for uranium remain very uncertain and secondary and other sources of uranium need to be considered as alternative feedstock for nuclear fuel.
The year saw the OECD/NEA/IAEA publish a new edition of its “Redbook” covering all aspects of global uranium supply and demand. The Paris-based agency noted a modest rise in global uranium resource estimates, mainly from newly identified resources at known deposits and re-evaluation of previously identified resources, though also new discoveries (e.g. in Canada).
With regards to identified resources in the upper cost category, Australia is reported to continue in the lead with 28% of the total in a large part due to the Olympic Dam site, with Kazakhstan having the lead for lower cost categories with as much as 49% of the world total. Ongoing assessments of resources brought about noteworthy changes in resource assessments for major producing countries such as Australia, Canada and Namibia, but also increases for Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Niger in the upper inferred resources category.
At almost 39 million tU, unconventional resources are seen as another source of potential future supply. As noted by the NEA, in some cases, including those of major producing countries with large identified resource inventories, estimates of undiscovered resources and unconventional resources are either not reported or have not been updated for several years.
While some recent reports note with optimism changes in the attitude towards uranium mining, for example in Australia, the Paris-based body emphasised the downward trend observed in recent years in worldwide domestic exploration and mine development expenditures, which decreased to approximately USD 0.5 billion in 2018 from USD 2 billion in 2014.
Coronavirus pandemic has significantly influenced uranium market as several companies announced in the second quarter the measures leading to an important decrease of uranium production and related services. As a consequence, the market got very active and spot U3O8 prices have risen substantially with further modest upward expectations. The conversion market that experienced price increases in the past two years due to supply reductions and inventory drawdowns is likely to experience the same situation.
Another impact of the pandemic on the suppliers is that their inventories are quickly getting lower, while utilities may be trying to revise their supply contracts or to build the stock considering the security of their supplies and future price increases.
Production 2020 (estimate)
Share in 2020 (%)
Production 2019 (final)
Share in 2019 (%)
Change 2020/2019 (%)
Data from the WNA and specialised publication
Because of rounding, totals may not add up.
It is expected that in the short-medium term, the global nuclear fuel market will continue to be served by the current five primary converters: Orano (France), CNNC (China), Rosatom (Russia), Cameco (Canada) and ConverDyn (USA).
World requirements for conversion are estimated to have risen to approximately 65 000 tU by 2020 and projected to reach 72 000 tU by 2025.
The world’s primary nameplate conversion capacity is estimated at 62 000 tU. In the EU, new capacity is provided by Orano’s Comurhex, operating between two sites in France. At the French Malvési site, a new unit for the production of 300 tU/y of high purity UO2 from UNH is being constructed, due to start operation in 2022.
Commercial UF₆ conversion facilities
Nameplate capacity in 2020 (tU as UF6)
Share of global capacity (%)
ConverDyn*** (United States)
Total nameplate capacity
Because of rounding, totals may not add up.
* Approximate capacity installed 10 500 tU
** Information on China’s conversion capacity is uncertain.
*** Activity suspended since end of 2017.
2021 saw technological evolution in Russia's centrifuges, the prospect of laser enrichment of US tails, and the renewal of the Russia Suspension agreement all point to possible changes in the later part of the 2020s.
The Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility (Kentucky, USA) is to re-enrich depleted UF6, beginning in late 2020s.
As another batch of generation 9+ gas centrifuges were installed at JSC Electrochemical Plant (ECP) in Zelenogorsk, Russia, Rosatom announced in a 2030 strategy document its commitment to further develop the gas centrifuge technology .
Russian enriched uranium that could be sold to US utilities in 2019-2020 under the US-Russian Suspension Agreement had been limited by the US Department of Commerce to 6.1 million separative work units, with a 2019 quota raised to 3.12 million SWU and in 2020 to 3.02 million SWU. The agreement, limiting the annual volume of Russian uranium imported fuel requirements, was renewed in late 2020 and extended through 2040. Prior to the amendment, the agreement allowed Russian uranium exports to meet about 20% of US enrichment demand, but now this figure will drop gradually to an average of about 17% over the next 20 years., and will be no higher than 15% starting in 2028. The agreement, limiting the annual volume of Russian uranium imported to 20% of US reactors’ fuel requirements, was renewed in late 2020 and extended through 2040.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission accepted for review Centrus Energy Corp's application to produce HALEU. Once licensed, Centrus could enrich uranium up to 20%.
Meanwhile, the transportation of High-Assay Low Enriched Uranium packages has received attention. Daher Nuclear Technologies foresees in 2021 for a license application for a new UF6 transportation cylinder for HALEU. The company is developing a safety analysis report for the transportation cylinder, the DN-30X. The analysis will assess a cylinder for enrichment up to 10% U-235 and another one for enrichment up to 20% U-235.
Operating commercial uranium enrichment facilities, with approximate 2020 capacity
Nameplate capacity (tSW)
Share of global capacity (%)
Urenco (UK/Germany/Netherlands/United States)
Others * (INB, JNFL)
Total nameplate capacity
Source: WNA, The Nuclear Fuel Report - Global Scenarios for Demand and Supply Availability 2019-2040.
Because of rounding, totals may not add up.
* INB, Brazil; JNFL, Japan
All over the world, several fuel manufacturers reported intensified efforts towards producing innovative fuels.
The Tennessee Valley Authority awarded Framatome several contracts for work on the company's reactor fleet. The contracts include fuel for the Browns Ferry nuclear plant, fuel handling equipment upgrades across the fleet and steam generator replacements at the Watts Bar plant. The contract to provide Framatome's Atrium 11 fuel for the three boiling water reactors at Browns Ferry will allow operators to run their plants with more flexibility and also help using the uranium in nuclear fuel more efficiently.
In September, Westinghouse Electric Co. and ENUSA Industrias Avanzadas S.A.,S.M.E. announced the insertionENUSA Industrias Avanzadas announced the installation of EnCore Fuel at Doel Unit 4 nuclear power plant in Belgium. This installation is the first insertion of accident tolerant EnCore Fuel rod assemblies in Europe, and the second insertion into a commercial nuclear power plant worldwide.
In February, BWX Technologies Inc. (BWXT) informed that its subsidiary BWXT Nuclear Operations Inc. was awarded a USD 3.6 million contract by the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to manufacture uranium-molybdenum alloy High Assay Low Enriched Uranium fuel that will facilitate the conversion of high-performance US research reactors from the current use of high-enriched uranium.
X-Energy informed that it signed an agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to irradiate- ate its TRISO-X fuel in MIT research reactor. The gathered data will be used for licensing X-energy’s Xe-100 and other reactors.
In December, TVEL informed that it produced the first accident tolerant fuel assemblies (ATF) for the VVER-1000 reactor. According to the company, the fuel and energy divisions of Rosatom are planning to load the ATFs into one of the reactors at Rostov NPP. In January, TVEL also reported that acceptance tests were completed for experimental fuel assemblies manufactured at the Siberian Chemical Combine in Seversk, Russia. The assemblies were fabricated with mixed uranium nitride-plutonium fuel for use in a fast neutron reactor.
TVEL announced the start of tests of its 3rd generationRK3+ fuel intended for VVER-440 reactors. The new fuel, which will be loaded tested in Dukovany, Czechia in reload batch quantity in 2023, allows for operation with increased thermal capacity and to extend the fuel cycle at the plant, leading to better economic efficiency.
Unit 2 of the South Ukraine nuclear power plant became the third Ukrainian VVER-1000 reactor fully loaded with fuel supplied by Westinghouse, Energoatom informed in June, after the core was loaded with TVZ-WR assemblies.
Westinghouse and Energoatom signed a contract for the supply of fuel assemblies for the two 440MWe units of Rivne NPP. The parties also signed a letter of intent regarding exploring localising fuel assembly component production.
Rosatom informed that Siberian Chemical Combine belonging to TVEL will develop a new uranium-plutonium REMIX (regenerated mixture) fuel fabrication facility for VVER-1000 reactors. REMIX fuel fabrication will be done in cooperation with the Mining and Chemical Combine in Zheleznogorsk. The project is planned for completion by 2023. TVEL also started preparatory works to fabricate MOX fuel for its demonstration fast neutron reactor Brest-300.
France's Orano reported having signed a contract with Japan`s Nuclear Fuel Industries Ltd. for fabrication of MOX fuel assemblies, to be used in Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Takahama-3 and - 4.
This information is made available for information purposes only, and ESA can take no legal responsibility for the use made of it.