Uranium Week: One Is The Loneliest Number

Weekly Reports | Aug 20 2019

Volume soared in the spot uranium market to one transaction last week following the prior week's lack of any transaction.

-Australian government to look at nuclear power solution
-Are small modular reactors a viable option for the future?
-Uranium market activity remains stagnant

By Greg Peel

The Australian government is preparing to hold a parliamentary inquiry into the possibility of pursuing nuclear power. Australia has a long history of dismissing any nuclear power option both from a community fear perspective (dating back to Three Mile Island, on to Chernobyl and more recently Fukushima) and as a result of the power of the coal lobby.

Debate rages nevertheless, given Australia's legacy coal-fired power plants are due for decommissioning and the issue of future baseload power is becoming critical. The obvious proposition from the coal lobby and its supporters in parliament is to build new coal-fired generators. The community on the other hand, at least those not involved in the coal mining industry, is supporting renewable energy solutions, and home/business solar take-up is increasing a-pace.

The coal lobby has managed to prevent state governments over time to allow even uranium mining in some states, whereas any appeal to wind down thermal coal exports on a climate change basis is met with contempt. It is before this backdrop one Queensland state parliamentarian last week suggested "Nuclear energy has evolved since it was last seriously considered in Australia. This inquiry will provide the opportunity to establish whether nuclear energy would be feasible and suitable for Australia in the future, taking into account both expert opinions and community views".

Renewed interest in nuclear power is being spurred by federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reductions Angus Taylor's interest in small modular reactors (SMRs). Proponents of SMRs believe there is an opportunity for Australia to become specialized in SMRs, which require less capital to build and can be deployed in clusters to replace larger coal stations.

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