Weekly Reports | Apr 07 2020
After years of lacklustre uranium prices and a lack of any urgency on the part of utilities, suddenly the virus has markedly changed the nuclear energy equation.
-Coronavirus fallout has proved beneficial for uranium prices
-Market volumes jump led by financial traders and uranium producers
-Current crisis emphasises the need for secure power generation, including via nuclear reactors
By Greg Peel
If you’re ever in need of personal protective equipment, look no further than a nuclear power plant. PPE is a daily necessity, and to that end power companies keep plenty on hand.
As “we’re all in this together”, some North American power companies have begun to donate PPE from their stockpiles to frontline healthcare workers in their communities. Ontario Power Generation, for one, can provide over one million items, including masks, gloves and gowns.
Nuclear power plants are some of the most well-prepared industrial sites in the world, equipped to handle a variety of contingencies. And despite a decline in electricity demand from locked down countries, cities and towns, secure power generation is critical at this time. Nuclear generation provides over 10% of the world’s electricity.
In the US, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a letter on March 28 detailing the process for ensuring that plant operators have flexibility in scheduling staff during the Covid-19 crisis to ensure continued safe and secure operations.
Hence, nuclear power plants will not shut down. But uranium mining operations have, across the globe, led by Canada’s Cameco, which the week before last shut down its globally significant Cigar Lake mine for the sake of worker safety.
Demand for secure supply at this time meets curtailed supply. A pressure valve has to go off, and it has, in the form of a 15% jump in spot uranium prices in a mere two weeks, after years of wallowing in the depths.