In a recent announcement, Sweden’s Climate Minister, Romina Pourmokhtari, has unveiled plans to reconsider the country’s ban on uranium mining, paving the way for increased nuclear energy capacity.
Pourmokhtari stated that the Swedish Parliament has garnered majority support for lifting the longstanding ban.
The government has outlined ambitions to construct a minimum of ten large-scale nuclear reactors over the next two decades to satisfy the growing demand for low-carbon energy. Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson had previously mentioned in January that legislative changes were underway, with the aim of encouraging greater investments in nuclear energy within the country.
It is worth noting that Sweden had previously committed to phasing out nuclear energy generation in 1980, consistently maintaining an anti-nuclear stance. However, this policy was reversed in June 2010. Pourmokhtari has been a vocal advocate of nuclear energy and argues that it should be a part of Sweden’s future energy mix.
According to Pourmokhtari, “The government’s objective is to double electricity production within 20 years. A significant portion of this increase must be dispatchable, and nuclear power is the sole non-fossil option. Nuclear energy also boasts a reduced environmental footprint and demands fewer resources compared to most other energy sources.”
The matter of uranium mining has raised concerns within Europe’s nuclear industry, particularly as Russia has dominated the processing of uranium fuel. Kazakhstan currently holds the position of the largest uranium miner globally. According to the World Nuclear Association, in 2022, Kazakhstan accounted for the largest share of mined uranium (43% of global supply), followed by Canada (15%) and Namibia (11%).
The role of nuclear energy in achieving a net-zero future has sparked contentious debates within the European Parliament. France, which derives approximately 70% of its energy from nuclear sources, has been a vocal supporter of nuclear energy. Conversely, Germany, which has closed its last three nuclear power stations this year, argues that nuclear energy is not renewable.
Sweden stands as the holder of 80% of the EU’s uranium deposits and already extracts uranium as a byproduct during the mining of other metals.
Several companies, including Australia’s Aura Energy and Canada’s District Metals, have expressed interest in developing uranium sites within Sweden.
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