Weekly Reports | Nov 14 2023
Bills including the eventual banning of Russian enriched uranium exports may be considered by US Congress this week.
-Caution prevails in uranium spot market
-US bill limiting Russian supply may be considered by Congress this week
-Term markets remain active on expectation of higher prices ahead
By Greg Peel
The uranium spot market saw a lack of buyer interest, leading to sellers reducing their offer prices. An off-market transaction was recorded on Thursday at US$72.65/lb, industry consultant TradeTech reports, down -US85c from TradeTech’s prior weekly price indicator, for delivery in France.
A gap has opened up between prices for delivery globally, with buyers last week preferring delivery in the US, and leading to a difference of up to US$1.00/lb between delivery locations.
However, several off-market transactions, involving the purchase of uranium contained in UF6 and/or enriched uranium product (EUP), were concluded last week, TradeTech reports. Some of these transactions call for delivery at the end of the spot delivery window and reflect higher prices due to expectations that prices will increase after the end of the year.
TradeTech’s weekly spot price indicator has fallen -US25c to US$73.25/lb.
The Russian Factor
Hanging over the uranium market since Russia first invaded Ukraine has been the possibility of sanctions on Russian enriched uranium supply, given Russian delivery contracts in place are critical to fuelling reactors in the US and elsewhere. Due to the importance of that supply, to both the US and Europe, to date sanctions have not been imposed.
Nuclear power companies have spent the interim trying to tie down secure sources from elsewhere on the globe, but Russia has dominated enriched uranium supply and only now is the world responding with plans to build new enrichment facilities to counter. They cannot be built overnight.
Various bills have been making their way through US House of Representatives and Senate committees in recent months, involving blocking Russian uranium supply (with a lead-in time), incentivising US domestic uranium production and incentivising domestic enrichment capacity.
On Friday, Congress must pass a budget bill to avoid a government shutdown, and there is concern these uranium-related bills may also be included for consideration at the same time, with Russian supply limits the main fear.
Meanwhile, the Illinois state government last week voted in favour of a measure that will remove a 36-year moratorium on new nuclear power plants. The bill lifts the ban on nuclear reactors producing less than 300 MW beginning in January 2026, which could support interest in small modular reactors (SMR), TradeTech notes.
In the European Union (EU), political support emerged last week for the formation of an industrial alliance on SMRs.
The Russian factor is one reason uranium term markets remain active even as the spot market shows caution.
Strong demand continues to characterise the market with both US and non-US utilities seeking material in the mid- and long-term delivery windows, TradeTech reports.
A non-US utility is seeking 6.6mlbs U3O8 or equivalent for delivery over the 2026-2030 period, and another non-US utility is reviewing offers for 1.3mlbs U3O8 contained in UF6 and/or EUP for delivery in the 2026-2032 period, while several other utilities are awaiting or evaluating offers for uranium contained in U3O8, UF6, and/or EUP over multiple delivery periods.
TradeTech’s term price indicators remain at US$75.00/lb (mid-term) and US$65.00/lb (long).
Uranium companies listed on the ASX:
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