Just months after Saskatoon-based Cameco Corp. laid off hundreds of workers and shuttered the largest high-grade uranium mine in Canada, the market for the radioactive metal used in nuclear power generation is suddenly in flux, as tensions between the U.S. and Russia flare.
Last week, in response to new U.S. sanctions, Russian lawmakers proposed measures that would halt enriched uranium exports to the U.S. — a move other countries could follow — which analysts believe could reset the supply and demand picture.
“The fact of the matter is it could potentially be quite explosive,” said Rob Chang, a former analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald, who now sits on the board of Fission Uranium Corp., an exploration company.
Uranium prices have declined by more than 70 per cent since a tsunami destroyed the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 and led Japan to take all its nuclear reactors offline.
That contributed to an oversupply and depressed prices to the point that, at many mines, it costs more to produce uranium than to buy it on the spot market, which has largely put a pause on exploration and mining in Canada.