The World Nuclear Association released a white paper this week entitled, “Building a Stronger Tomorrow: Nuclear Power for a Post-Pandemic World”. The paper highlights the important role of nuclear energy in the post-pandemic environment and calls upon policymakers to take proactive measures to support the industry.
If we ever get to a post-pandemic environment.
The paper identifies a window of opportunity for governments to invest in nuclear energy to help address the immediate crisis caused by the pandemic, and to prevent future crises by dealing with bigger, chronic problems, such as climate change, air pollution, and energy poverty.
With regard the immediate crisis, major global uranium supplier Kazatomprom last week announced a one-month extension to the staffing reduction at its production sites in Kazakhstan. The original reduction in staff, implemented in April, was driven by concerns over the pandemic.
“Kazatomprom’s main priority is the health and wellbeing of our staff and their families, our partners, and the communities where we operate…we believe that the pandemic-related risks still remain too high for a full return of production employees to our sites. We are therefore extending the period of reduced operational activity for an additional month, with the intention of gradually increasing mine site staff levels at the beginning of August, if it is deemed safe to do so.”
The company does not expect the extension to have a material impact on 2020 uranium production guidance.
Nor did the news spark any life into the spot uranium price.
One Way Street
Another week, another small drift down in prices.
Industry consultant TradeTech’s weekly spot price indicator fell -US10c to US$32.90/lb last week to mark the seventh straight week of incremental declines.
The spot uranium price remains up 32% in 2020, but there is no indication of the drift-off abating amidst an ongoing lack of demand from utilities, and prices too low to sufficiently finance any production restarts.
The stumbling blocks for utility demand remain the expiry of the Russian Suspension Agreement at the end of this year, and the relentless spread of the virus. It appears virus uncertainty will remain with us for some time.
As for the RSA, market participants are hopeful the US Department of Commerce will push for a resolution between both sides in coming weeks, rather than holding out to the expiry date. The issue for the DoC is one of preventing Russia dumping cheap uranium on the US, thus keeping a lid on prices.
However, a report found that the RSA had achieved little in the way of curbing Russian supply, and evidence confirms little impact on prices. Uranium prices are up in 2020 as noted, but only as a result of ongoing supply curtailments which began as a response to too-low prices, and then continued on health risks created by the virus.