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Low market prices, increasing production costs, and weak demand continued to influence the uranium industry in 1983. Production exceeded consumption and, as a result, exploration for uranium declined in the United States for the fifth straight year. In 1983, an estimated $40 million was spent on uranium exploration, including 3.7 million ft of surface drilling. This drilling was done mainly in the producing areas and in areas of recent discoveries. During the year, a few discoveries were announced.
Production of uranium concentrate declined in 1983, for the third straight year, when 10,580 tons of uranium oxide (U3O8) were produced. Uranium produced as the result of solution mining and as the by-product of phosphoric acid production accounted for about 28% of the total production. In response to a soft market, numerous mines and 3 mills closed during 1983.
Throughout the free world, uranium exploration decreased as production exceeded consumption. Canada continued to dominate the long-term supply by opening new production centers and announcing new discoveries.
The 1983 declines in the domestic industry are expected to continue into 1984 as nuclear plants are canceled and uranium inventories grow.
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