As Japan flipped the switch on its first nuclear reactor, the uranium industry hopes this is the first reactor of many to come back.
“It’s very good news for the industry. It’s a positive signal that the Japanese market is going to return and bring back it’s reactors and we’ve been watching them closely,” Alice Wong, senior vice-president with Cameco, said.
She said Cameco expects more reactors to come online as Japan continues its review process of the reactors that were taken offline from 2011 to 2013 in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown of 2011.
“In Japan there are five plants that have made it through the review process and 19 going through the process and our estimate is that two-thirds will return over time, 30 or so reactors coming back,” Wong said.
Despite the good news, Wong couldn’t predict when prices might rise and when the oversupply of uranium worldwide would shrink spurring more demand.
“What we look for in the market is continued reactor building, a return to long-term contracting and continued restart of reactors in Japan,” Wong said. “(Japan) has been taking fuel (since 2011) so they have a stockpile of uranium they haven’t used for a number of years.”
With the price of uranium sitting at $36 per pound, Wong said that price is too low to spur investment into a new mine. Cameco continues to keep a close eye on China and India as they make the move to nuclear energy.
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