January 30, 2013

Uranium Spot Prices On The Rise $44.00 P/Lb

Published on Wednesday January 30 2013 (AEST)  

Uranium price publishers TradeTech and Ux Consulting increased their weekly spot prices for uranium to $43.75/pound U3O8 and $44/lb, respectively, due primarily to purchases last week by Deutsche Bank, market sources said. TradeTech's price Friday was up $1.25 from its previous weekly price, and UxC's price Monday was up by $1.50. Analysts said Tuesday they expect U3O8 spot prices to soften during the next few days, noting that prices have retreated since Friday when there were several transactions at above $44/lb. 

Buyers "backed away from the market" late in the day, UxC said. This followed offers Friday by Goldman Sachs to sell U3O8, a source said. Deutsche Bank's purchases got the attention of uranium market participants because of the perception that the bank "looks at uranium as a long-term play," one source said. "When people see "Deutsche Bank is buying material..., this sends a signal that [the bank] feels in the longer term the price of this commodity will go up," the source said. 

Overall, there were nine transactions totaling nearly 1 million lb U3O8 last week, TradeTech reported and 10 transactions totaling about 1.1 million lb, UxC reported. Deutsche Bank's purchases last week were 300,000 to 500,000 lbs. U3O8, a source said. Both of the uranium reporting services said prices were buoyed by buyers reacting to reports of political unrest in the West African nation of Mali, raising security concerns about uranium production in nearby Niger--the world's fourth-largest producer. 

"[S]uppliers have been reticent to sell, creating a situation where the market has traded up as material was being placed in the market at successively higher prices," UxC said. In addition, TradeTech said "others believe buyers are acquiring material in order to cover previous delivery commitment or in anticipation of upcoming mid-term opportunities." It said that a non-US utility, which it did not identify, "is seeking approximately 2.2 million pounds U3O8 equivalent for delivery between 2014 and 2020." The Platts NuclearFuel range for the week is $42.50-$46/lb.


January 14, 2013

Nuclear Given Green Light To Power UK Trains

Published on Monday January 14 2013 (AEST)
 An EMT Meridian train makes a test run at its top speed of 125 mph (200 kph) 
in July last year - using peak power of 2.8 MWe

By electrifying more track and contracting nuclear power supplies from EDF Energy the UK rail network operator will reduce fossil fuel use over the next ten years. A joint statement today described how Network Rail will purchase power exclusively from EDF Energy, with that supply matched to nuclear generation. With a requirement of 3.2 TWh per year, Network Rail is the UK's largest power customer. It owns all the railway infrastructure and purchases power centrally, recouping money from firms that operate trains across its network.

 Currently, 55% of rail traffic in the UK is electrically powered but this is set to grow to 75% by 2020 with the completion of an electrification program spanning 2000 miles (3220 km) of track. Network Rail chief executive David Higgins said, "Rail is already the greenest form of public transport and this partnership with EDF Energy will help us make it greener still.

" For EDF Energy, CEO Vincent de Rivaz called the deal "a massive vote of confidence in our nuclear-backed energy." He said, "The deal places nuclear energy at the heart of the UK's infrastructure for the next ten years and serves to underline that nuclear power is part of everyday life in Britain." EDF Energy operates 14 Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor and one pressurized water reactor, totalling 9548 MWe in generating capacity.

It has advanced plans for a new EPR unit at Hinkley Point, which it wants to be the first of four. The company also has wind and coal assets, but output from these was excluded from the Network Rail deal, which "comes with a guarantee that the electricity supplied... is matched by electricity from low-carbon nuclear generation." Network Rail will purchase power "up to ten years in advance" under the deal, a privilege which the companies said "helps to deliver greater certainty over costs and significantly reduce exposure to short term, volatile energy prices.

" This kind of long-term arrangement is made possible by the economics of nuclear power, which feature high costs for construction and capital but low and predictable fuel and operating .


January 6, 2013

Most Japan Cities Hosting Nuclear Plants OK Restart: Survey

Published on Sunday January 06 2013 (AEST)
The majority of Japanese towns and cities hosting nuclear plants said they would agree to the reactors being restarted if the government guaranteed the safety of the facilities, a survey said Sunday. All but two of Japan's 50 reactors remain closed for safety checks following the Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the March 2011 quake-tsunami and must get the blessing of a new regulator before being restarted. 

Despite the Fukushima crisis, 54 percent of the 135 mayors of communities located near nuclear plants said they would accept the restart of the reactors, according to the survey by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. Only 18 percent said they would not support reactor restarts, while 28 percent refrained from clarifying their position, the Yomiuri said, while two did not give valid answers. The results run contrary to public opposition to reactor restarts, as the Fukushima nuclear meltdown has fuelled fear of nuclear power in Japan. 

The survey outcome however reflects the harsh economic reality in the rural communities hosting nuclear facilities, which are usually major employers in the areas that often have no other industries, the Yomiuri said. Fukushima's crippled reactors went through meltdowns and explosions that sent radioactive materials in the surrounding areas, which is likely to be unfit for human activities for decades. While tens of thousands of local residents remain evacuated from their homes, the government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company expect to spend more than 30 years decommissioning the Fukushima reactors. But the Yomiuri survey results may help Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who came to power after his Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory in December elections. 

Abe has voiced his support for nuclear energy and promised an agenda to rebuild the nation's sluggish economy. Critics have said his LDP was partly responsible for the extent of the Fukushima catastrophe because of a culture of complicity during its more than five-decade rule. It would also be a sharp policy reversal from the previous government led by Yoshihiko Noda, who pledged to gradually end nuclear energy in three decades, in line with public opinion and worries about nuclear energy expressed repeatedly in surveys. The majority of the public have called for the end of or a significant reduction in nuclear plants.