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Uranium Week: Momentum Builds

Weekly Reports | Jan 31 2017

This story features BHP GROUP LIMITED. For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: BHP

The spot uranium price last week booked its eighth consecutive week of positive or neutral price changes.

By Greg Peel

Last week market participants gathered in Washington for the annual Nuclear Supply Forum, a week which typically ensures light trade on uranium markets.

But not this time. Industry consultant TradeTech reports seven transactions conducted in the spot market totalling 900,000lbs U3O8 equivalent. Prices rose steadily over the week, taking TradeTech’s weekly spot price indicator up US75c to US$24.50/lb – its highest price since last September.

Last week marked the eighth consecutive week of positive or neutral price changes. The spot uranium price is now 38% above its December low of US$17.75/lb. It sounds impressive, but we really are coming off a very low base. A twelve-year low to be precise.

Positive momentum is being carried, TradeTech suggests, since Kazakhstan announced a 10% reduction in state production in 2017 earlier in the month, due to low prices. On the other side of the coin, the Husab Uranium Mine in Namibia – ten years in development – last week produced its first concentrate.

Husab production will not hit the spot market, given an agreement to exclusively supply majority shareholder China General Nuclear Power Co in 2017. While that’s good news, it also takes CGNC demand out of the equation.

BHP Billiton’s ((BHP)) December quarter production report, released last week, noted a 30% drop in uranium production at the company’s Olympic Dam mine in South Australia in the first half FY17. This was not a case of another major producer deciding to curtail production, but rather a result of maintenance work and South Australia’s infamous state-wide electricity blackout, that cut off supply to the mine for two weeks.

There were no transactions concluded in uranium term markets last week. TradeTech’s term price indicators remain unchanged at US$22.00/lb (mid) and US$30.00/lb (long).

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