Nuclear industry participants gathered in Beijing, China, for the 9th Annual China Nuclear Energy Congress (CNEC) on May 15-16, which focused on China's nuclear power industry and culminated with a panel discussion moderated by TradeTech Business Development Director Bahi Sivalingham, which provided insight into supply and demand concerns in today's global uranium market.
The panel discussed challenges of bringing new uranium mining projects into production, including the effects of today's uranium market on exploration and development activities. Panelists included CNEC speakers Zhou Zhenxing, chairman of China General Nuclear Power Group and Chen Yuehi, vice general manager and vice director of China Uranium Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation's Department of Geology & Mining, as well as James Dobchuk, president of Cameco Inc., who all agreed that market price may play a pivotal role in the future uranium supply industry.
Sivalingham presented TradeTech's "Call on Mine Production" forecast, which estimates that 210 million pounds U3O8 will be needed by 2025 to fill a supply gap. Dobchuk expressed the view that the current uranium price does not support production that is needed for future uranium supply, and as such, some projects may be delayed or remain undeveloped. Chen agreed and highlighted the importance of an efficient market price to support uranium end users and a balanced uranium production environment. Meanwhile, Zhou said that today's market price is not a significant concern as he believes it is sufficient for new development. However, he also expects a market correction if one is needed to stimulate new production in the future.
Sivalingham asked panelists about new project financing concerns, which may create challenges in the uranium supply sector. Dobchuk said that today's market can make it difficult for some uranium developers to secure financing, especially junior companies. In contrast, both Chinese participants said that the current market would not inhibit financing of new uranium projects for China, domestically or abroad.
Editor's Note: Less than two years after the Fukushima crisis in Japan, China restarted its nuclear build program in November 2012, and today has 30 reactors under construction, which represents about 40 percent of global nuclear power construction. The country's ambitious nuclear build program will require significant uranium resources to fuel new plants over the next 60 years. To fill this demand, China maintains a strategic position to invest in the development of domestic and overseas uranium resources.
I continue to be a big bull on uranium. There simply is not going to be enough supply if the price of uranium stays at its current level. The price needs to rise in order to entice sufficient capital into the market to build the new supply. This then becomes a game of accumulating shares at these depressed level and then waiting for the inevitable price rise.
Disclosure: I am long URA, EFRFF.PK.