7 May (NucNet): Uncertainty surrounding potential trade restrictions in the US continues to hinder contracting activity for uranium, Kazatomprom has said.
The Kazakh state uranium miner said the supply and demand picture for uranium appears to be “more balanced” in the medium-term, but the lack of very near-term interest from nuclear operators so far in 2019 reflects uncertainty over a US Commerce Department national security investigation into uranium imports.
The Section 232 investigation was prompted by a petition filed by two US uranium mining companies, Ur-Energy Inc and Energy Fuels Inc, complaining that subsidised foreign competitors, including Russia and Kazakhstan, have caused them to cut capacity and lay off workers.
US nuclear power generators oppose the federal government taking action and have argued tariffs or quotas would increase costs for the struggling industry and possibly cause some reactors to shut.
The commerce department submitted a report containing its recommendations last month, but has made no comment. The president has up to 90 days from April 14 to act on the recommendations contained in the report.
Ur-Energy Inc and Energy Fuels Inc noted in a recent statement that the US is the world's largest consumer of uranium, but in 2019 its domestic industry is expected to produce less than 1% of the uranium US utilities need to generate electricity. “The rest will come from other countries and increasingly from our adversaries,” the statement said.
Kazatomprom,the world’s largest uranium producer, said it expects to produce between 22,750 tonnes of uranium (tU) and 22,800 tU in 2019, in line with plans to reduce output to 20% below permitted levels because of oversupply.
It said that without the reduction, production would have exceeded 28,500 tU.
After reaching a three-year high of $29.00 at the end of January, 2019, the spot price began to weaken with a sharp price decline in mid-March, closing at around $25.25 at the end of April.