Commodities | May 31 2011
By Greg Peel
The story so far:
The US Department of Energy was planning to sell 5.2m pounds of U3O8 equivalent from its stockpiles systematically out to 2013 to pay for the clean-up of the Portsmouth enrichment facility. This was keeping a lid on any potential bounce-back in the uranium spot price following its plunge after the tsunami.
Three weeks ago a rumour surfaced that clean-up contractor Fluor-B&W, which was to receive the DOE uranium as payment, had found a buyer for the full 5.2mlbs. The uranium price pushed up to US$57/lb.
At the end of that week Fluor denied the rumour and the uranium price fell back a dollar to US$56/lb in the following week's trade. But at the end of that week, Fluor announced it had indeed sold the whole lot to international metal and mineral trader Traxys.
Given the 2-year overhang of a sizeable amount of uranium had been removed from the market, one might have assumed a sudden rush of buying would result lest the post-Fukushima bargain prices ran away. Alas, it was not to be.
Last week a bill was introduced into the US Congress proposing a pilot program to re-enrich depleted uranium tailings to be sold onto the market to further assist with the Portsmouth clean-up cost and to fund another clean-up at a Kentucky enrichment facility and extend that facility's operation beyond its proposed 2012 closure date.
So the excitement was dulled, and industry consultant TradeTech reports it was a quiet week of trading last week with only six transactions completed totalling 650,000lbs of U3O8 equivalent. The consultant's spot price indicator did manage nevertheless to regain the dollar lost to US$57.00/lb.
There were no transactions in the term market. TradeTech's indicative prices remain at US$59/lb mid-term and US$68/lb long-term.