Five years after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, the uranium market has not recovered as quickly as expected, forcing Cameco Corporation to “learn to live in a different paradigm,” according to its president and CEO.
“I think everybody underestimated the reaction of Japan,” Tim Gitzel said, noting that while the Japanese government abandoned its plan to phase out nuclear power entirely, its stringent regulatory regime has allowed for just three reactor restarts to date. “We thought that would happen a lot faster,” Gitzel said.
The “really tough” global market, combined with factors such as the devalued Canadian dollar, resulted in Cameco posting a $10 million, or $0.03 per share, loss in the fourth quarter, bringing its yearly earnings to $65 million, or $0.16 per share — a 65 per cent slide from the $185 million it made in 2014.
However, the Saskatoon-based uranium company set records last year by producing 28.4 million pounds of uranium concentrate and collecting revenue in excess of $2.75 billion — significant increases from 2014.
Pointing to better-than-expected production at the Cigar Lake mine, which came online in 2014 after significant delays, Gitzel said 2015 was “a good year” for the company.
Cameco also revealed for the first time its estimates of another significant ore body. Located near the company’s McArthur River operation, the Fox Lake deposit is still in the “advanced exploration” stage of development, but promises to enhance and lengthen Cameco’s commitment to Saskatchewan, Gitzel said.
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