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Uranium Week: Potential Export Of US Nuclear Technology

Weekly Reports | Jul 28 2020

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The spot uranium price rose marginally last week.

-US International Development Finance Corp to lift ban on financing US nuclear exports.
-BHP Group reports higher production at Olympic Dam during Q4, 2020.
-U3O8 spot price marginally increases.


By Mark Woodruff 

The US International Development Finance Corp (DFC) this week officially said it will lift is legacy prohibition on funding nuclear energy projects. Previously, this inability to offer attractive financing options has been seen as a barrier to the potential export of US reactors and nuclear technology, according to industry consultant TradeTech.

The DFC commented this recognises the "vast" energy needs of developing countries, as well as new and advanced technologies such as small modular reactors and micro-reactors that could be particularly impactful in these markets. In recent years export of nuclear technology has been dominated by Russia and China.

In other news, the US Environmental Protection Agency has now withdrawn completely from regulation concerning in-situ recovery activities and the baton has been passed to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Wyoming Governor, Mark Gordon, endorsed an agreement between the two parties which demonstrated support for uranium producers, by signing a memorandum of understanding clarifying federal and state regulation.

Uranium Pricing

In a minor reversal of trend, TradeTech’s weekly spot price indicator rose US20c to US$32.90/lb last week.

The weekly spot price has increased nearly 29% over the last year, while the average weekly uranium spot price for 2020 is US$29.28 per pound, US$3.44/lb above the 2019 average.

TradeTech reported a total of six spot transactions in the week, involving approximately 700,000/lb U3O8 equivalent.

The possible termination of the Russian Suspension Agreement (RSA) is continuing to cause uncertainty among market participants, particularly US utilities. Hope that a resolution may be reached in coming weeks has faded, with some parties speculating that an agreement between the US Department of Commerce and the Russian government may be months away. The issue for the DoC is one of preventing Russia dumping cheap uranium on the US, thereby subduing prices.

New demand emerged in the long-term market this week with a US utility issuing a Request for Proposals and several other utilities preparing to enter the market. Meanwhile, TradeTech believes sellers are becoming adamant in their need for higher prices. They are justifying this on the basis of covid-19 impacts on uranium production and additional delays due to safety protocols.

Company News

BHP Group ((BHP)) reported uranium production for its fourth quarter, up 31% from the prior quarter when there was unplanned downtime at the smelter, the company said in a production report released on July 21.

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