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Why Did the Price of Uranium Skyrocket?

Between 2004 and 2007, the spot price of uranium more than quadrupled, reaching more than $140 before falling off sharply in the past several months to less than $80.

Why was there such a huge spike in price?

One reason is because there’s been an increased demand from nuclear power plants around the world, as nuclear energy becomes more palatable in the face of global warming. (We wrote here about that phenomenon.)

But if you watch this interesting Canadian TV interview, you’ll see that there’s an interesting supply side of the story as well as the demand side.

According to David Miller, C.O.O. of Strathmore Minerals, nuclear plants had, until recently, been living off a huge uranium stockpile from the 1980’s. That stockpile was created in anticipation of an onslaught of new U.S. nuclear plants that ended up never being built because of Jane Fonda political, regulatory, and public pressures. Now, says Miller, with that stockpile depleted, there’s a huge push for new uranium.

This doesn’t explain the recent drop in uranium price, of course, but it is hardly the only commodity that’s taken a hit.

On a broader and more important note, go read the excellent article in today’s Wall Street Journal headlined “New Limits to Growth Revive Malthusian Fears.” It ably wrestles with the recurring fear that the world’s resources and capacities have been outstripped by the number of people living here. Unlike many such articles, it is neither hysterical nor dismissive.