Archive | Uranium and Nuclear Power Industry

NexGen Energy lines up US$30M financing with Queen’s Road Capital – by Carl A. Williams (Northern Miner – May 12, 2020)

Global mining news

NexGen Energy (TSX: NXE; NYSE: NXE) has signed a US$30 million financing agreement with Queen’s Road Capital Investment (TSXV: QRC) and plans to use the funds to advance work at its flagship Arrow deposit, part of the company’s Rook 1 project in Saskatchewan.

“Warren Gilman, chairman and chief executive officer of Queen’s Road Capital, is a long-time shareholder and supporter of NexGen and also joined our board in 2017,” Leigh Curyer, NexGen’s CEO, said in an interview.

“Warren came to us and wanted to invest in uranium, but only wanted to invest in world-class projects and world-class management teams. We met both those criteria.” Continue Reading →

Looking for a Glowing Commodity? Try Uranium – by Clara Ferreira Marques (Bloomberg News – May 6, 2020)

(Bloomberg Opinion) — Uranium is having a moment in 2020, climbing a third in six weeks while much of the commodities universe melts down.

Years of poor economics and weak investment, combined with the impact of pandemic-related mine closures, are adding up to a supply squeeze, despite demand softened by industrial lockdowns. There will be no swift return to lofty levels last seen over a decade ago, but the metal may still be the only one to end the year with a record shortage and higher prices.

The start of the last bull run had plenty of similarities to today. Supply was suffering the effect of a long run of unimpressive prices. Thanks to revived interest in nuclear power, the spot market price for uranium surged by a factor of 13 between 2003 and 2007. Continue Reading →

“Get the Hell Off”: The Indigenous Fight to Stop a Uranium Mine in the Black Hills – by Delilah Friedler (Mother Jones – March/April 2020)

Can the Lakota win a “paper war” to save their sacred sites?

Regina Brave remembers the moment the first viral picture of her was taken. It was 1973, and 32-year-old Brave had taken up arms in a standoff between federal marshals and militant Indigenous activists in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Brave had been assigned to guard a bunker on the front lines and was holding a rifle when a reporter leaped from a car to snap her photo. She remembers thinking that an image of an armed woman would never make the papers—“It was a man’s world,” she says—but the bespectacled Brave, in a peacoat with hair pulled back, was on front pages across the country the following Sunday.

Brave had grown up on Pine Ridge, where the standoff emerged from a challenge to the tribal chair, whose alleged offenses included scheming to accept federal money for Paha Sapa, also known as the Black Hills. Continue Reading →

Uranium workers in northern Sask. facing 25 per cent pay cut – by Michael Bramadat-Willcock (National Observer – April 22, 2020)

Hundreds of workers in northern Saskatchewan will be hit with a 25 per cent pay cut in May, as Cameco Corporation’s Cigar Lake mine and Orano Canada Inc.’s McClean Lake mill extend their production suspension past the four week period that was announced on March 23.

“The global challenges posed by this pandemic are not abating — in fact, they are deepening,” Cameco’s president and CEO Tim Gitzel said in a written statement.

Cameco Corporation is the world’s largest publicly traded producer of uranium and Orano Canada Inc. operates the mill where ore from Cigar Lake mine is processed. Continue Reading →

Trump officials eye blocking uranium from Russia, China to help U.S. nuclear industry – by Timothy Gardner (Reuters U.S. – April 23, 2020)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Trump administration officials on Thursday recommended granting U.S. energy regulators the ability to block imports of nuclear fuel from Russia and China and detailed plans for setting up a government stockpile of uranium sourced from domestic miners.

The recommendations are meant to address growing concern in Washington that the United States has ceded its global leadership in nuclear technology in recent decades, and to boost domestic nuclear power producers and uranium miners suffering from a lack of investment.

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told reporters on a call that the report from the Nuclear Fuel Working Group was a “road map for what we think needs to be done to not only revitalize but re-establish American leadership in this entire industry.” Continue Reading →

Citing pandemic, GOP lawmakers renew push for action on critical minerals – by Jacob Holzman (S&P Global Market Intelligence – April 21, 2020)

U.S. Republican lawmakers have renewed a push for federal critical minerals policies in light of the coronavirus pandemic, saying President Donald Trump should lift a mineral withdrawal near the Grand Canyon in Arizona, adjust federal oversight of uranium mining pollution and fast-track permitting of mineral refineries as part of future economic recovery plans.

On April 17, a group of 21 House Republicans including House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and House Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., wrote to Trump requesting the president “undo” a mineral withdrawal, or land withdrawal, covering more than 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon.

The mineral withdrawal, established in 2012 by the Obama administration, clarifies the authorities held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Nuclear Regulatory Commission over regulating groundwater pollution from in situ leach uranium mining. Continue Reading →

Uranium Surges 31% Amid Shutdowns to Become Year’s Top Commodity – by Aoyon Ashraf and Joe Deaux (Bloomberg News – April 19, 2020)

(Bloomberg) — ​​​​​​While most commodities are getting hammered by the coronavirus crisis, uranium prices are skyrocketing.

The radioactive metal used in nuclear fuel has climbed 31% this year, making it the world’s best-performing major commodity. The gains have been spurred by mine shutdowns that have wiped out more than a third of annual global output at a time when demand from power plants has remained relatively stable.

“This is a bit of a one-two punch in uranium’s favor,” said Nick Piquard, a portfolio manager at Horizons ETFs. “Not only has Covid-19 likely not impacted nuclear power demand very much, but it is certainly impacting supply.” Continue Reading →

The coming supply shock in mining – by Marin Katusa (Kitco News – April 14, 2020)

No country is immune to the spread of COVID-19. The virus has killed over 95,000 people and infected over 1.6 million people in 209 countries globally. The virus has put many major mining operations at risk.

Mines are being shut down across the world, either by government mandate or by the company due to the virus. The knock-on effects of the mine shutdowns will be significant.

For example, in Namibia, mining contributes to 25% of the country’s income and the whole industry has been put on hold. Despite mining being an essential service in many regions… “Over 500 Gold, Silver, Copper, Iron, Coal and Uranium mining, development and exploration assets across the globe have ceased or scaled back production (meaning operating stockpiles and with limited workforce).”

This has had a significant impact on many companies that are not well capitalized to weather the storm. The virus has put a company like First Quantum in a serious predicament. Continue Reading →

Cameco halts conversion facility in Ontario – by Cecilia Jamasmie (Northern Miner – April 8, 2020)

Global mining news

Canada’s Cameco (TSX: CCO; NYSE:CCJ), the world’s largest publicly traded uranium miner, is placing its plant at the Port Hope conversion facility, in Ontario, in a temporary safe shutdown state for four weeks.

The move comes as the company faces the increasing challenge of maintaining an adequate workforce as a result of screening protocols and other measures put in place to combat the covid-19 pandemic.

Since the majority of the UO3 produced at the Blind River refinery is used to produce UF6 at the conversion facility, the refinery’s production would also be temporarily suspended and, where possible, summer maintenance work brought forward. Continue Reading →

Remarkable signs of federal-provincial unity on small nuclear reactors – by Duane Bratt (Policy Options – March 30, 2020)

Policy Options – Institute for Research on Public Policy

The Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) held its annual conference in Ottawa in February. It was the most optimistic gathering in years. In one sense, this was only natural.

After all, the organization was celebrating its 60th anniversary and it was the largest gathering ever, with over 900 delegates (100 of them students) and about 40 exhibitor booths. More substantively, there were three fundamental reasons for the optimism — including the prospect of a promising new product line.

First, many of the problems that bedevilled the nuclear industry in years past have essentially been resolved. The restructuring of Canada’s nuclear Crown corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), is now complete. Continue Reading →

Cameco suspends Cigar Lake uranium operations to reduce threat of COVID-19 spread – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – March 25, 2020)

Cameco Corp. has suspended operations at its massive Cigar Lake uranium mine in Saskatchewan to reduce the threat of spreading the novel coronavirus into remote communities in northern parts of the province.

One of the biggest uranium mines in the world, Cigar Lake is located about 650 kilometers north of Saskatoon, and is a fly-in/fly-out operation.

In a statement, Cameco said the decision to idle Cigar Lake for four weeks was motivated by the “restrictions enacted by the federal and provincial governments, the significant degree of concern among leaders in remote isolated communities of northern Saskatchewan, and the increased challenges of maintaining the recommended physical distancing.” Continue Reading →

Environmentalists fear more uranium mining near Grand Canyon may be impending – by Debra Utacia Krol (Arizona Republic – March 17, 2020)

Environmentalists and tribal leaders are gearing up to address a long-anticipated recommendation to reopen the Grand Canyon region to uranium mining.

The Nuclear Fuel Working Group, established by President Donald Trump in July 2019 to explore domestic uranium production, is expected to release its findings and recommendations soon. And those recommendations are almost certain to include increasing the domestic supply of uranium, which was named one of the U.S.’s critical minerals in 2018.

That puts uranium on the same footing with minerals like cobalt and lithium, used in the electronics industry, and rare earth elements like titanium and tin. These minerals are so designated because they are essential to the U.S. economy and, because many of these minerals are heavily imported, the supply of one or more may be disrupted, according to the American Geosciences Institute. Continue Reading →

How COVID-19 is affecting the bottom line in Sask.’s biggest industries – by Chelsea Laskowski (CBC News Saskatchewan – March 17, 2020)

Saskatchewan’s biggest industries are forging ahead with limited impact in the face of COVID-19, but are paying keen attention to its long-term effects. Potash and uranium mines are taking precautions with staff, but spokespeople with Nutrien and Cameco, the biggest players in both industries in the province, say there have been no disruptions to production.

Spring seeding hasn’t started in agriculture yet, but there are long-term repercussions that could hit next month. In the short term, oil has been the hardest hit.


Oil prices plummeted early last week. There were other factors causing the dip that were unrelated to coronavirus, but as the disease has spread there are new major pressures on the industry. Continue Reading →

OPINION: To lead on climate, Canada should invest in the next generation of nuclear reactors – by Robert Bryce (Globe and Mail – March 14, 2020)

Robert Bryce’s latest book is A Question of Power: Electricity and The Wealth of Nations, from which this essay is adapted.

Coal use in Canada continues to decline. In 2018, the amount of electricity produced from coal was about 59 terawatt-hours, or roughly half as much as the country’s utilities were producing in 2000.

Canada was able to slash its coal use thanks to its reliable nuclear plants, an increase in natural-gas-fired generation and growth in renewables. But if you think the rest of the world is going to quit using coal, think again. A total of nearly 200 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity is now under construction around the world in places such as China, India, Turkey, Vietnam, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Furthermore, and perhaps most surprisingly, Japan, the birthplace of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions, is also building new coal plants, up to 22 of them. Continue Reading →

Researcher: Uranium cleanup should be No. 1 priority – by Rima Krisst (Navajo Times – March 12, 2020)

CROWNPOINT, N.M.: “Illness due to uranium is no longer just the story of the miners. It’s the story of their children and grandchildren,” said Southwest Research and Information Center Environmental Health Specialist Chris Shuey. Shuey, who studies contaminants in the environment and their potential health effects, calls the legacy of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation an atrocity.

“Hopefully, these hearings will result in new and better policy to speed up the cleanup, fund addition health studies, and get reparations and compensation for the people,” said Shuey, who presented at a hearing in Crownpoint on a proposed Navajo Nation position statement on uranium.

Because of the shroud of secrecy and superstition surrounding uranium as a weapon of war, health studies and continuing education about the impacts did not occur as soon as they should have, he said. “Not knowing and not talking is equivalent to a death sentence because you can’t do anything about it,” said Shuey. Continue Reading →