Uranium is having the worst start to a year in a decade. U3O8 is down more than 20% in 2016 with the UxC broker average price trading around the $28 a pound mark this week. Current levels are the cheapest spot uranium has been since 2005. At the same time the long term price, where most uranium business is conducted, is hovering at around $44 a pound, where it’s been since July 2015.
IntIrina Dorokhova of MINEX Central Asia sat down with Tim Gritzel, President and CEO of Cameco to talk about the changing dynamics of the uranium market, how the Canadian company is riding out the slump and its new agreement with Kazakh giant Kazatomprom.
Mr. Gitzel, what’s happening in the spot uranium market? Why do you think the spot price stabilized in 2015 and dropped in the first quarter of 2016?
Prices are very low today, just 28 dollars per pound. We haven’t seen prices this low for many years. There’s not very much activity on the market, small amounts of material, often changing hands among traders. There is a sense among utilities that there is a lot of uranium around and so there is no urgency to be buying. Utilities are well covered for the next few years so the prices are staying low for now. We expected Japan to move more quickly with restarting their reactors but it didn’t happen. Material that would have been delivered to Japan is now coming onto the market and keeping the price down.
Why is it happening this year, but not last year?
Last year was flat as well with prices around 35 dollars. That’s not a high price, but it was strengthening. Today it’s 28 dollars and there is no clear driver for that.
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