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Uranium Week: Stalling Again

Weekly Reports | Jun 26 2018

Following a recent burst of activity, volatility in the uranium market has waned once more.

-Volume reasonable but volatility diminished
-Uncertainty persists
-New age reactor completes testing

By Greg Peel

Volume in the uranium spot markets was a bit lower last week than the week before but not unreasonable, with 1.3mlbs U3O8 equivalent changing hands in eight transactions, industry consultant TradeTech reports. Volatility was nonetheless lacking, with prices remaining at US$23.00/lb for most of the week.

Sellers only became more keen by week’s end, resulting in TradeTech’s weekly spot price indicator falling -US25c to US$22.75/lb.

TradeTech’s term price indicators remain at US$26.50/lb (mid) and US$28.00/lb (long).

Ongoing stories still hang over the uranium market, in particular the long wait for a decision on a US section 232 investigation into the national security ramifications of uranium imports. Last week US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the DOC would “very shortly” decide whether or not to open an investigation, but the department reportedly has set no deadline for addressing the matter.

Uncertainty persists.

Reactor Count Rising

Japanese reactor restarts is another ongoing story, and last week Genkai unit 3 became the ninth reactor to restart post Fukushima. Restarts are having an impact, as last year nuclear power consumption in Japan rose 64.9% to mark the biggest ever annual increase, although obviously coming off a low, Fukushima-impacted base.

The average global increase in nuclear power consumption last year was 1.1%.

Applications have been made to the Japanese regulator to restart a further 26 plants, but currently 17 applications are on hold due to delays in safety work and subsequent assessments.

Safety is not a stumbling block in the Chinese nuclear power industry, as the country celebrated completion of initial testing on the first new-age reactor last week. The AP1000 offers “innovative passive safety system technology, multiple layers of defence, and advanced controls for unequalled reliability,” boasted designer Westinghouse.

Sanmen unit 1 will shortly be connected to China’s electricity grid – a milestone which was originally planned for 2013 but was delayed when Westinghouse declared bankruptcy.

Westinghouse currently has another four AP1000s progressing through construction, testing and start-up in China, and two in the US.

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