The founder of U.S.-based Uranium Energy Corporation, Amir Adnani told shareholders Wednesday that this would be the year when the uranium market is “going to fly,” with demand pressure and supply issues pushing prices higher.
“I believe uranium is going to fly this year,” Adnani said at the Metals Investor Forum in Vancouver, Canada, in mid-January. Calling 2018 a “comeback year,” for the radioactive metal that is the basic ingredient for nuclear power plant fuel, Adnani said that “no miner on earth makes money at $21 per pound,” as the price for the commodity. But all signs, he said, point to a revival in uranium production.
On the demand side, an unprecedented number of nuclear reactors are now being built, Adnani said, adding up to more reactors under construction around the world than in 2015 to 2017, just before the devastating, industry-jolting disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant 175 miles northeast of Tokyo.
Adnani explained the rapid growth in nuclear power plant orders through a video that recently went viral.
Taken by a British Broadcasting Corporation reporter in Beijing, the GoPro footage shows smog rolling in through Beijing, obliterating the view of a city highway as the cars take over during rush hour. Within seconds, the view goes from clear to solid gray, as the buildings in the background and the highway disappear in the smog.
In many cities, air pollution is “multiple-levels above what the World Health Organization or anyone sane would consider healthy,” Adnani said.
Twenty-five of the largest cities in China and India are now in an “air quality, air pollution crisis,” Adnani said.
Also putting pressure on prices is the power Kazakhstan has over the uranium market and the simple supply-side pressure that comes with the country’s mining corporation KazAtomProm planning to trim production by 10 percent this year.
Similar to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel is enacting voluntary production cuts to prop up the price of oil, Kazakhstan has, by itself, enough market clout to change prices in the market.
Consider this, Adnani explained. If Saudi Arabia, which supplies the world with 12 percent of its oil, were to cut production, the price of oil would immediately react. Kazakhstan, by comparison, produces 40 percent of the world’s uranium, which makes their production cutback even more impact.
With demand pressure on the rise, Adnani said the world’s utility companies are on track to buy a billion pounds of uranium over the next ten years.
Also, in the United States, there is a new sheriff in town. So to speak.
With a Republican in the White House, policy shifts are likely to turn in favor of nuclear power in the United States. President Barack Obama, typical of Democrats, treated nuclear power as an “afterthought,” said Adnani, noting that the former president never once uttered the words “nuclear power” in any of his State of the Union speeches.
As a Republican, however, President Trump is likely to view things differently. Trump is in favor of nuclear power, and he has surrounded himself with advisers who are also in favor of atomic energy, he said.