November 9, 2011

Uranium Market Buyers Interest Returning

Published on Wednesday November 09 2011 (AEST)

Uranium industry consultant TradeTech closed its indicative spot uranium price at US$51.75/lb for the month of October. That's down US25c from the previous weekly spot price and also US25c down from the end-September closing price. And that about sums up the uranium market over the past couple of months ? a whole lot of not much.

October proved a very quiet month in the market, with 18 transactions completed for a total of only 2.2mlbs, down from 4.2mlbs in September. All month the spot price fluctuated in a range of less than US$2.00/lb. 

The lack of action is largely reflective of a stalemate between buyers and sellers, in which the buyers have not been all that keen, but sellers have not been prepared to lower prices to settle deals. It still appears US$50/lb is a rough line in the sand.

Also complicating matters have been differences in product demand (U3O8 and UF6) and differences in location of delivery requests across the globe, all of which underlines the fact there is no "real" global spot price for "uranium", and that's why TradeTech offers only an indicative price based on its market observations.

The industry remains unsure about levels of Japanese stockpiles no longer required, about ongoing US government plans to convert tailings stockpiles into useable product, and about the world's intentions from here with respect to nuclear energy, despite the Fukushima event now being eight months in the past. 

On the other hand however, the market has also been able to note ongoing corporate interest in uranium mining, most recently exhibited by rival bids for Canadian miner/explorer Hathor from industry heavyweights Cameco and Rio Tinto .

The good news is that a primary producer entered the market last week seeking 900,000lbs of U3O8 split between four different points of delivery. When a producer is buying spot uranium it usually implies a contract shortfall through lost production. TradeTech further notes several utilities ? the real end-users of uranium ? are contemplating entering the market for product in coming weeks.

The bad news is that the insignificant spot price movements of the last few months are an indication of sellers unwilling to sell too low, rather than a lack of sellers. Thus if some decent bids do begin to hit the market, TradeTech suspects they may be jumped on.

TradeTech settled its indicative spot price for last week at US$52.25/lb which is up US25c from the week before. Indicative term prices remain at US$55/lb (medium) and US$63/lb (long). 

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