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Oct 24, 2014 - Nuclear market participants convened in Atlanta, Georgia, this week for the Nuclear Energy Institute’s annual International Uranium Fuel Seminar. Speakers provided insight into the global outlook for nuclear power, supply/demand issues, and how producers are addressing the challenges of today’s uranium market as the industry moves beyond the Fukushima accident with cautious optimism. Key considerations repeated throughout the seminar centered on the long-term outlook for uranium supply and demand and uranium market prices. This is a challenging time for the US nuclear power industry, with two reactor closures last year due to economic stress; however, there is good news to celebrate as the USA is mid way through a multi-billion dollar reactor construction program, with new plants expected to begin operating within the next decade.

In Japan, utilities continue to work toward achieving approvals for reactors restarts from the Nuclear Regulation Authority and local governments. Local municipalities are expected to vote on the restart of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai Units 1 and 2 (846 MWe PWRs) in December. If approved, restart of the Sendai units could occur by April next year, which would mark the first reactors returning to service since the Fukushima accident in March 2011, according to a presentation by T.J. Weber, deputy group manager for Japanese trading company ITOCHU. The tone of the conference was less optimistic for sellers, as the evolution of uranium demand was addressed in several presentations. The supply/demand discussion was centered on future uranium requirements and the affect on uranium production centers, as a regional shift in demand occurs with rapid new build plans in China, India, and Russia, and as low market prices slow exploration and certain production schedules. Nonetheless, in recent weeks the spot uranium price has gained stability.

The spot market price moved up this week as buyers showed renewed interest—traders, financial entities, and utilities all concluded purchases this week, with traders selling the bulk of the material. Although some material is being offered into the spot uranium market by primary producers, the amount of material available for spot delivery directly from producers has dropped considerably over the past year. Several routine spot market sellers are less active as a result of previously concluded contracts and spot supply is somewhat thinner than it has been in previous months with fewer “have-to” or cash-driven sellers in the market. A total of five transactions are reported for the week. TradeTech’s Weekly U3O8 Spot Price Indicator increased $0.50 to $36.00 per pound U3O8, and is up $0.25 from the October 23 Daily U3O8 Spot Price Indicator. read more