Uranium Spot Price Slips into New Year, but Higher Prices Coming

The uranium spot price slid 50 cents, to $42.75 per pound U3O8, in 2013’s first week of trading, according to TradeTech. The consultancy firm also reported that materials purchases for delivery later in the year fetched a higher price than transactions involving immediate delivery — a sign that market participants are anticipating higher uranium spot prices in 2013. 

The results of a recent Bloomberg News analyst survey show that the spot price for uranium will average $55 per pound this year. That’s still a far cry from the $70 to $80 per pound that industry experts say is needed to make most major uranium production operations economical. Thomas Neff, a uranium analyst at MIT, told the news agency that the market will most likely not see “strong demand signals” until 2015 as nuclear restarts in Japan are expected to move “fairly slow[ly].”

Virginia’s Coal and Energy Commission voted 11 to 2 on Monday to recommend that in its 2013 session, which begins this week, the state’s General Assembly address overturning Virginia’s 30-year uranium mining moratorium. Lifting the ban would allow Virginia Uranium to carry through with its plans to mine the Coles Hill uranium project — valued at $7 billion. The vote follows that of Danville’s city council, whose members voted unanimously in favor of keeping the ban on uranium mining, according to a local media report.

The first of four 1,080 MW reactors at China’s Ningde nuclear facility began initial operation December 28, with full commercial operation to follow after the plant’s operator, China Guangdong Nuclear Power, conducts additional testing. All four CPR-1,000 units are expected to be operational by the end of 2015.

Turkey will soon announce the winning bid for a tender to construct the nation’s second nuclear power facility on the Black Sea Coast at Sinop. Nuclear firms from China, Japan and South Korea are in the running. Construction of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant will begin this year under Russia’s state-owned Rosatom. The government of Turkey plans to build a total of three nuclear power plants in the next five years.

Company news

On Wednesday, Pistol Bay Mining (TSXV:PSTreceived notice of Rio Tinto Canada Uranium’s (RTCUC) planned 2013 exploration program at the Pistol Bay Mining C5 property, located in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. The proposed $750,000 program includes an 1,800-meter diamond drill campaign and a ground gravity survey. RTCUC currently has a 55-percent interest in the project with the option to earn 100 percent following $1 million in expenditures and $5 million in cash payment. Pistol Bay Mining would receive a 5-percent net profits interest royalty.

Tuesday, Macusani Yellowcake (TSXV:YEL) announced additional assay results from its ongoing drill program at the Chilcuno Chico anomaly on the company’s Kihitian property in Puno, Peru. Highlights include drill hole PT-CH26-TNE with an 18-meter intersection from 197 to 215 meters; it returned a weighted average of 762 ppm U3O8 (or 1.524 lbs/ton), including a higher-grade zone of 9 meters that averaged 1,459 ppm U3O8 (or 2.918 lbs/ton). Macusani is operating three diamond drill rigs on the Kihitian project, one drill at Quebrada Blanca and two drills at Chilcuno Chico.

Monday, Powertech Uranium (TSX:PWE) received a second-draft uranium recovery license for its South Dakota-based Dewey-Burdock project from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The draft license is preliminary and further discussions are necessary to finalize the Safety Environmental Report and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). Powertech expects to finalize the SEIS in March 2013 and the NRC has scheduled completion on its end by May 2013. The company anticipates receiving the uranium recovery license shortly after.

Uranium Resources (NASDQ:URRE) reported an expansion and extension of its exploration agreement with Cameco Texas, a subsidiary of Cameco (NYSE:CCJ,TSX:CCO). Both parties have agreed to extend the exploration agreement to a five-phase, five-year exploration program that will include an additional 22,700 net acres known as the Tecolote tract. Under the expanded program, Cameco is committing $4.3 million to increase its interest in the uranium mining lease to 70 percent.

Last week, Alpha Minerals (TSXV:AMW) and Fission Energy (TSXV:FISannounced assay results from the September 2012 boulder prospecting program at their Patterson Lake South joint venture project, which is located in the uranium-rich Athabasca Basin. The results include assays of 37 glacially transported rocks with returned grades of over 10 percent U3O8 from 54 percent of the boulders assayed. The highest-grade sample assayed at 40 percent U3O8.

 

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.