Uranium Week: Held To Ransom

Weekly Reports | Mar 05 2019

The US section 232 investigation is curtailing demand in the uranium market and leading to price consolidation.

-Section 232 slows activity in US uranium market
-Sellers becoming anxious
-Paladin Energy looks to a restart

By Greg Peel

Uncertainty surrounding section 232 has “frozen” the US uranium market, noted Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel at least week’s Global Metals & Mining Conference in Florida, with US utilities generally reluctant to enter into new purchase agreements.

To recap: Two US uranium producers have petitioned the White House to force US utilities to purchase 25% of their requirements domestically, rather than (cheaper) foreign imports, as a matter of “national security”. This comes under section 232, the same act implemented in imposing tariffs on foreign imports. Nuclear power utilities are already struggling to compete in US electricity markets even with cheaper uranium on offer.

The US Department of Commerce is investigating, and has been now for over a year. The petition was filed in January 2018. Most recently the DoC sent out an extensive questionnaire which has been described by various parties as “onerous” and “intrusive” as well as time-consuming. The deadline for return of the questionnaire was end-February.

The DoC is scheduled to issue a report and any recommendations to the president by April 18, and he then is permitted months to ponder his response.

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