Uranium Week: Break Out!

Weekly Reports | Nov 14 2017

The uranium spot price posted its biggest weekly gain in three years last week.

- Bombshell announcement
- Biggest gain in three years
- Utilities forced into action

By Greg Peel

It was a mixed start to the week in the uranium market, news-wise.

In the six years since the Fukushima disaster, only twelve of Japan’s nuclear reactors, out of a prior fleet in excess of forty, have been granted regulatory approval to restart. Five have subsequently restarted, although currently one is shut for maintenance.

Last week Japan’s head regulator suggested the pace of restarts is unlikely to gain any momentum in years to come. The government’s goal of a return to a 20% nuclear contribution in Japan’s power mix is unlikely to be achieved as utilities struggle with plant upgrades required to satisfy strict new natural disaster protection standards.

And that’s before individual reactors come up against local protest in the process of acquiring go-ahead approval at three levels of government. To date this is why only five of twelve have actually restarted.

France has a different problem. The new government has set a goal of reducing the country’s reliance on nuclear power to 50% from a current 75% by 2025, but last week the French environment minister announced there will be a delay to this plan. The reason is such a swift reduction will result in an unwelcome increase in carbon emissions in the interim.

But just when it looked like the spot uranium price would spend another week hanging around the US$20/lb level with little incentive to go either up or down, as it has for the past five months, out came Cameco with a major announcement.

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