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Uranium Week: Restart Setback

Weekly Reports | Jun 18 2019

New regulations in Japan may see the few reactors that have restarted to date temporarily forced to shut down again.

-Tougher Japanese regulations
-U3O8 spot price reacts
-Global nuclear growth accelerates

By Greg Peel

In “news you don’t want to hear”, if you are a uranium producer or investor, last week the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority approved new rules that may force restarted reactors to temporarily shut down again.

As part of the initial restart approval process, which is centred on improved reactor safety in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, Japanese utilities agreed to construct back-up reactor control centres in offsite bunkers. At the time, the NRA was happy with guidance from utilities as to how long it would take to build the centres.

But now those utilities have admitted delays in construction. Kyushu Electric and Kansai Electric, for example, were to have completed their centres by next year but now both are suggesting a delay of one year. Other utilities have suggested up to a two-and-half year delay.

Under the new rules, the NRA can force reactors to again shut down if original deadlines are not met.

To date, only nine of Japan’s 39 still-operable reactors have restarted in the eight years since Fukushima, having satisfied new safety requirements.

The spot uranium price had begun to again tick higher early last week until the news hit from Japan and sellers became more urgent. Despite the World Nuclear Fuel Market annual get-together being held in Lisbon during the week, which often leads to quiet trading, six transactions were recorded in the spot market totalling 700,000lbs U3O8 equivalent, industry consultant TradeTech reports.

TradeTech’s weekly spot price indicator has fallen -US30c to US$24.30/lb.

TradeTech’s term price indicators remain at US$27.35/lb (mid) and US$30.00/lb long.

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BP’s annual Statistical Review of World Energy, released last week, noted global nuclear power generation increased by 2.4% in 2018, mostly thanks to China, which is the fastest growth rate since 2010. BP forecasts nuclear power to continue to grow through to 2040, but at a slower pace than the total energy market.

Over in London, the CEO of Horizon Power told the Nuclear New Build conference that the UK should “replace nuclear with nuclear”. Duncan Hawthorne noted nuclear had been a steady part of UK power generation for 40 years.

Hawthorne acknowledged the role renewable energy will contribute in the UK’s energy future but suggested that while the nuclear industry does not seek to dominate the energy market, it would like to maintain the market share it has built.

Over to you Boris.

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