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Eyes On the Uranium Market

From yesterday's International Herald Tribune
After decades of sinking prices, a uranium boom is under way as orders for new nuclear power plants in Asia mount and a vast stockpile of fuel from former Soviet nuclear weapons decommissioned after the cold war begins to run down.

The spot price for concentrated uranium oxide, or yellowcake, the form in which uranium is sold, has tripled to almost $21.75 a pound from a 20-year low of $7.10 a pound in December 2000. Some mining analysts expect it to reach $30 a pound or higher next year.

Meanwhile, in Kazakhstan, the nation's nuclear energy company announced it was boosting output to meet increased demand:
KazAtomProm said in a statement that it produced 3,719 metric tons (4,000 short tons) of uranium in 2004, a 10 percent increase on the previous year.

It plans to boost output to more than 4,000 metric tons (4,409 short tons) this year, rising to as much as 15,000 metric tons (16,500 short tons) annually in 2010, making it the world's largest uranium producer, the statement said.


Kelly L. Taylor said…
I have been reading articles that the uranium market will change in the next ten years from supply-driven to demand-driven. Having seen the changes wrought in the natural gas markets by increasing demand for this cheap (!) fuel source until demand outstrips supply, I wonder what the long-term strategies are for the uranium markets.

We currently use more uranium worldwide than what is being produced from the mines - although I understand price can drive exploration. The uranium prices aren't moving quickly, since there are several sources of stockpiles that will continue to moderate the market effects of increasing demand. But I also understand that Russian ores are lesser quality than Canadian ores, for example - so to maintain their production market share, they must put forth ten times more effort mining than the Canadians must.

How will increasing uranium prices affect the long term growth of the worldwide nuclear power production? Will we see a build cycle followed by a dormant cycle, as with natural gas plants?

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