Experts see hike in uranium price as more countries build nuclear reactors

By @vitthernandez on
Uranium Ore
Uranium ore is heap leached with sulfuric acid at Areva's Somair mine in Arlit, Niger, September 25, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Penney/File Photo Reuters/Joe Penney/File Photo

In October, miners started work on the US$100 million (A$135 million) uranium mine near the Spanish city of Salamanca. Berkeley Energia, a mining company listed in Australia and junior AIM market in London, is expected to benefit when the price or uranium in the international market increases eventually.

Once operational, the uranium mine – which created almost 500 jobs – targets to produce 4.5 million pounds of uranium yearly by 2018. Berkeley raised US$30 million (A$40.5 million) in new shares and won support from funds such as JP Morgan and Blackrock, The Telegraph reports.

Berkeley has been developing the site for more than 10 years but discovered high-grade uranium near the surface in 2014. Because the uranium is on the shallow part of the pit, Berkeley is expected to keep costs around US$15 (A$20.3) a pound.

Spot uranium prices are at a 13-year low after it halved to around US$18 (A$24.3) a pound in 2016, last seen in 2003 at that level. But Paul Atherley, chief executive of Berkeley, would not mind the price even going down since he eyes long-term contracts to get premium spot prices.

While large nuclear reactors in the US and Europe are coming off supply in 2018, it will come back into the market, Atherley predicts. He also says that China is building 60 reactors which will all come into the market at the same time.

In the next decade, Cameco, the largest listed uranium producer in Canada, estimates demand would go up to 500 million pounds of uranium for these reactors. Despite current uranium spot prices dipping at irrational and unsustainable levels, Tim Gitzel, head of Cameco, says the expected huge demand for uranium is expected to come to the market at some point.

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