Kazakhstan-based Kazatomprom is mobilising employees and expects to have its sites back to normal staff levels within two to three weeks.
The world’s largest uranium producer said on Monday it believed it could safely begin to bring staff back to its mine sites, after a four-month Covid-19-related shutdown.
Production in the second half of the year would be “severely impacted” by the March to July shutdown. Kazatomprom, however, maintained the guidance it provided in April of 19 000 t to 19 500 t, on a 100% basis (attributable 10 500 t to 10 800 t). Before Covid-19, Kazatomprom had planned to produce 22 750 t to 22 800 t.
The company also confirmed that it had bought “some” volumes in the spot market at the end of the second quarter. Kazatomprom is targeting inventory levels of about six to seven months of yearly attributable production, but it would fall short in 2020 and 2021, owing to the shutdowns.
Last week, Canadian major Cameco announced that it would restart the Cigar Lake mine, which was idled on March 23. Cameco also said that, given the production interruptions at the Cigar Lake mine and at the Inkai joint venture with Kazatomprom, it would have to increase spot market purchasing in 2020 to meet otsdelivery commitments and to maintain its desired inventory levels.
The suspension of operations in Kazakhstan and Canada tightened global supply, pushing up spot prices by about 30% since late March.