Uranium Week: Upcoming Catalysts For Uranium Industry 

Weekly Reports | Jan 27 2021

As the weekly uranium spot price oscillates in a tight range, we examine further impetus for the nuclear industry after the US re-joins the Paris climate agreement. 

-Biden rejoins Paris climate agreement 
-Upcoming catalysts to continue momentum for nuclear
-Minor covid disruption for Kazatomprom
-Uranium spot price remains range-bound

Momentum gained by the US nuclear industry during the Trump administration is expected to be maintained after the Biden administration’s commitment to low-carbon energy, assesses industry consultant TradeTech. One of the first executive orders signed on January 20 was for the US to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement.

Upcoming catalysts include a full Senate vote on the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act. This includes an annual program for a US Strategic Uranium Reserve, which would provide assurance of the availability of uranium recovered in the US, in the event of a market disruption and support strategic fuel cycle capabilities within the nation.

In addition, plans were outlined in the US Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy’s “Strategic Vision” in early January. These include goals to address key challenges in the US nuclear sector and pursue first-of-their-kind projects.

During his campaign, President Biden’s political platform proposed a US$2 trillion climate plan that includes nuclear power. In particular, the plan calls for development of small modular reactors, which are suitable for load-following or as a backup for wind power. 

It also supports “leveraging the carbon-pollution free energy provided by existing sources like nuclear and hydropower.”  The US nuclear industry is hoping that this bipartisan support extends to measures at State and Federal level to assist reactors that are at risk of closure. The Biden administration’s first major policy test will be at Exelon’s Byron and Dresden nuclear power plants in Illinois, both of which will be closed in late 2021 unless government support is forthcoming.

In addition, the Biden climate plan outlines the creation of an Advanced Research Projects Agency on Climate to target affordable, innovative technologies to help the US achieve a 100% clean energy target that includes advanced reactors that are applicable to a wider range of applications than conventional nuclear reactors.

Company News

Last week, JSC National Atomic Company Kazatomprom and its French joint venture partner, Orano Mining, reported a covid-19 outbreak at uranium miner Joint Venture KATCO LLC, which operates in the Turkestan region of Kazakhstan.

After initially reporting on 20 January that “several” positive cases had been identified, Kazatomprom stated on 22 January that 666 employees and contractors at KATCO's Moinkum and Tortkuduk operations were tested for covid-19, and the final reports showed 128 positive cases.

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