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Uranium Week: Ups And Downs

Weekly Reports | Sep 17 2019

Last week was a volatile one in the spot uranium market, for little end result.

-Global support of nuclear energy growing
-IEAE projections released
-Volatility in spot market

By Greg Peel

The importance of nuclear energy for the transition toward a clean and affordable energy system was highlighted at the 24th World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi this week, industry consultant TradeTech reports. During a nuclear industry panel, Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp, noted that nuclear technologies are "proven, economically viable, safe, and clean."

In Asia, Japan's new industry minister said that exiting nuclear power is unrealistic. “There are risks and fears about nuclear power,” Industry Minister Isshu Sugawara told reporters. “But ‘zero-nukes’ is, at the moment and in the future, not realistic,” he added. South Korea and the United Arab Emirates hope to gain projects to build new nuclear capacity. This week, South Korea's Ministry of Trade, Energy, and Industry and the UAE agreed to work together on securing new reactor projects overseas.

“Global electricity demand is expected to rise sharply in coming years as countries need more power for development,” said International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Deputy Director General Mikhail Chudakov, head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, on the release of the agency’s new nuclear power projections. He noted that "without a significant increase in the deployment of nuclear power, it will be difficult for the world to secure sufficient energy to achieve sustainable development and to mitigate climate change.” In 2018, nuclear power produced about 10% of the world’s electricity, accounting for approximately one-third of all low-carbon electricity. Presently, the world’s 450 operating power reactors have a near record level of 399.7 GWe total net installed capacity.

IEAE projections see nuclear generating capacity declining by approximately -8% in the low case and increasing by 25% in the high estimate by 2030. By 2050, nuclear capacity is forecast to fall -6% in the low scenario and increased by 80% in the high case.

It is unclear what one is supposed to do with such information.

Volatile Week

For if the world is becoming more excited about nuclear power, it is not currently reflected in demand for uranium. After rising to US$25.35/lb U3O8 equivalent on the heels of an optimistic outlook, following the World Nuclear Association symposium the week before, the market fell early last week to US$25.05, then to US$24.80 on Thursday, before rebounding on Friday to close at US$25.25/lb.

TradeTech’s weekly spot price indicator thus ended the week down -US10c. Total transaction volume came close to 1mlbs U3O8 equivalent.

The drop in the price over the course of the week was led by a few sellers that needed to clear positions due to risk management and financial limits.

In the term market, a US utility, seeking offers for a minimum of 100,000lbs U3O8 equivalent, to be delivered by September 2022, concluded its evaluation. Two other US utilities are evaluating potential entry into the term uranium market.

TradeTech’s term market indicators remain at US$28.00/lb (mid) and US$30.00/lb (long).

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