Uranium Week: The Nuclear Conundrum

Weekly Reports | Feb 11 2020

Lack of demand continues to drag on uranium prices despite ongoing production curtailments, yet nuclear energy remains a matter of cost.

-Uranium spot prices drift lower
-Production curtailments ongoing
-Nuclear power a costly option

By Greg Peel

The world’s largest mining investment conference, now in its 26th year, began in Cape Town last week. Given the tenuous state of South Africa’s energy supply, the focus this year of the “Investing in African Mining Indaba” is on a transition from coal toward renewable and clean energy resources to deal with power shortages across the African continent. (Indaba means meeting.)

The five-day conference brought together representatives from 94 countries and regions, including more than 38 ministers, under the theme "Optimizing Growth and Investment in the Digitized Mining Economy."

The CEO of the Minerals Council South Africa said at the conference the Council fully supports a transition from coal to non-fossil fuel forms of power generation such as wind and solar power and, where cost is not prohibitive, nuclear power.

“Where cost is not prohibitive” underscores the dilemma facing the global nuclear power and uranium mining industries at present. The US experience is one of US uranium miners being unable to compete with cheaper imports from the likes of Canada and Kazakhstan, with uranium prices near historically low levels. Yet the US nuclear power industry cannot compete with gas-fired and (subsidised) renewable power, despite historically low uranium prices.


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