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Uranium exceeds $80/lb for first time in more than 15 years

21st November 2023

By: Bloomberg

  

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Uranium prices topped $80 a pound for the first time in more than fifteen years on renewed demand for nuclear power and disrupted supplies.

Nymex futures tracking physical-market contracts for a raw form of uranium known as yellowcake hit $80.25 a pound on Monday. Prices have rallied sharply this year, after more than a decade moving sideways, amid the nuclear renaissance around the world as well as numerous production challenges.

That’s spurred interest among investors who are gaining exposure through both mining shares and uranium derivatives. While spot uranium is a thinly traded market, the term price — which is more important for power plants — has also been trending higher, according to BMO Capital Markets.

“Utility contracting continues to pick up,” Colin Hamilton, managing director for commodities research at BMO, wrote in a note. “There is very little uncommitted production available to meet uncovered utility requirements.”

Key miner Cameco Corp. lowered its production targets due to challenges at its operations in Canada, while a recent coup in Niger has disrupted shipments to European nuclear plants. There’s also been uneasiness within the industry since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine about the reliance on the enrichment facilities run by Russia’s Rosatom.

The conflict has also spurred countries to diversify power generation as the energy transition gets underway. Some utilities in Europe are extending the lives of their reactors to cope with the loss of piped Russian gas, while the buildout of China’s nuclear fleet is continuing at pace.

Higher uranium prices may eventually prompt producers to restart production, according to a report by Sprott Asset Management. This month Australian miner Boss Energy announced the restart if a project that was mothballed more than a decade ago.

Edited by Bloomberg

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