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Nuclear power's role in supplying U.S. electrical energy needs will grow rapidly in the next few decades, becoming the principal electricity source by the end of the century. Chief nuclear fuel during the period will be the uranium isotope 235; however, some thorium reactors will be used and plutonium will have a role later to supplement uranium in water reactors and as fuel in breeder reactors. The current oversupply of uranium and the related soft market prices are likely to be short-lived considering the several fold increase in production capacity and large additions to reserves that will be needed. The U.S. has major low-coast uranium resources compared with other countries, but they are not large compared with projected needs. The few known large uranium areas will rovide a basis for continued expansion of reserves, but indications are that new uranium areas will be needed. Filling future needs will be a challenge to the raw materials industry considering the time available, finances required, current prices, decreasing exploration activity, and the indicated resource expansion. Foreign supplies will be excluded from U.S reactors until late in the 1970s, by which time the domestic industry should be in a strong position to supply a substantial part of U.S. needs and to withstand foreign competition.
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