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Gates and Buffet Going Nuclear in Wyoming: That’s Good News For Local Miners




“Wyoming is both a top coal mining and top uranium mining state, and the reactor would use uranium from “in situ” mines that extract heavy metal from networks of water wells on the High Plains, officials said.” AP Press Release at The Epoch Times, NTD,, and many other sources

Traditional coal communities, and especially their exuberant governors in Wyoming and Utah, are heralding the good news about a new Natrium nuclear fast reactor coming soon to a neighborhood near them. Rocky Mountain Power, also serving energy customers in Utah will be the chief beneficiary of the 345-megawatt nuclear plant now being touted by its backers as the game-changing technology so overdue for upgrading the nation’s nuclear power infrastructure. 

The project features:

  •  a 345-megawatt sodium-cooled fast reactor
  • a molten salt-based energy storage system
  • Sufficient power generated for an estimated 250,000 homes. 
  • Innovative storage technology enabling a surge of output up to 500 megawatts for nearly 5-½ hours, which is equivalent to the energy needed to power around 400,000 homes, according to TerraPower.

The demo project with $80 million in funding is a joint initiative between Bill Gates’s TerraPower and PacifiCorp, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. But the Natrium Demonstration Project Team founded back in 2008 includes a crowded and diverse roster of energy industry stalwarts and engineering teams including :

  • Bechtel Power
  • GE Hitachi
  • Energy Northwest
  • Duke Energy
  • Argonne National Laboratory
  • The universities of North Carolina State, Oregon State, and Wisconsin 
  • to name just a few Natrium project participants listed on the Natrium Technology Fact Sheet. 

And let’s not forget the ongoing Department of Energy funding cited by Terra Power’s CEO. According to the press release:

“The plant will be a “multibillion-dollar project,” with costs to be split evenly between government and private industry”- TerraPower President and CEO Chris Levesque

Even better for the Gates/Buffet alliance PR effort, the demonstration pilot project slated for Wyoming will replace a retiring coal plant while providing another consumer for local uranium mines. 

Governor Mark Gordon’s New Nuclear Deal: Fossil Fuels Included

While Elon Musk battles with Australian CEOs about the merits of lithium-ion batteries versus hydrogen blue gas, and overly exuberant “green rush” states like California endure their rolling brownouts, it’s good to see a practical energy policy such as Governor Mark Gordon’s sensible plan for Wyoming. 

Gordon acknowledges the practicality of fossil fuels as part of an overall transition to creating a true “carbon-negative” state in Wyoming. Unlike many “green governors,” Gordon refuses to put the shaky green carts before the state’s reliable fossil fuel and nuclear energy horses. And with many traditional mining communities among his constituents, the Wyoming governor is always thinking about jobs. 

“Gordon said the small, modular nuclear reactor would provide on-demand energy and result in an overall reduction of CO2 emissions, while creating “hundreds of good-paying jobs through the construction and operation of the unit.”- AP

By “carbon-negative” Gordon sets the bar even “lower” than the standard green benchmark of “carbon-zero”. Clean carbon-free nuclear power can achieve the “carbon negative” goal by eliminating more carbon from the atmosphere than the state emits. Even with fossil fuel as part of the energy and civil infrastructure. 

The Natrium electric grid will provide the 100% reliable energy platform required to replace coal and be versatile enough to accommodate wind and solar contributions to the grid without the risk of brownouts on windless cloudy days. The “green energy sources” will play more proper roles as the surplus sources rather than the unreliable primary energy sources they proved to be in California and Texas when extreme weather conditions caused unsustainable surges in “green energy” demand. That won’t be a problem for the new Natrium reactor and its versatile integrated energy system.

Utah governor Spencer Cox also welcomes the common-sense “all-of-the-above” energy approach to the nuclear deal for his state, telling the Salt Lake Tribune:

“I support an all-of-the-above energy plan, which includes nuclear power. Utahns need reliable energy sources and this new facility in Wyoming will provide that in an environmentally sustainable manner. Coal communities have powered our state and this country for generations and have enabled the tremendous economic growth we have seen across the West. By citing this project at a retiring coal plant, Rocky Mountain Power and their partners, TerraPower and the Department of Energy, are demonstrating that these same communities can power our economic growth for generations to come.” Wyoming to build nuclear reactor in partnership with Rocky Mountain Power- Salt Lake Tribune


The US is Finally Getting Serious About Jumpstarting the Nuclear Industry

Once the $80 million Natrium plant is completed (sometime around 2027-28) and has proven itself as a top carbon-clean energy provider, its success is sure to encourage more Natrium reactor plant construction. That could help reverse the American uranium industry slump, a lingering legacy from when the industry faced an onslaught of environmental backlash in the 1980s. As a result,  most of the radioactive uranium required to fuel US nuclear plants today comes from Canada or Kazakhstan. 

Travis Deti, the director of the Wyoming Mining Association is hoping to change that metric as more smaller, modular, lower-cost Natrium reactor plants spring up around the country. Deti sees the Wyoming Natrium demo project as “jump-starting the American nuclear industry”. The state-of-the-art Natrium also produces ⅔ less nuclear waste than older nuclear reactors, and with the Department of Energy backing, the proliferation of long overdue, upgraded nuclear energy can only mean a torrent of new uranium consumers for Wyoming miners. 

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