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Market Update: No Upswing in Global Nuclear Market Foreseen

The construction of nuclear power plants is at a 10-year low, which makes uranium demand weak, confirmed the world’s biggest supplier of uranium Kazatomprom. “In our models, we don’t get excited on the demand side,” said Galymzhan Pirmatov, chief executive officer of Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan’s state-owned mining company. The global uranium market stagnates, which makes companies curb increasing production. “I do believe prices are too low,” as uranium fell 15% this year to $24.35 a pound, continued Pirmatov. At the same manner, the US also considers imposing tariffs as cheap natural gas replaced nuclear energy, resulting in closing nuclear plants.

Although Kazatomprom’s output is expected to increase by about 5% this year, it should not further rise in the followed year. There were 55 nuclear plants under construction in the first quarter, which is the lowest number in a decade. “Growth is coming from developing markets these days,” where markets need electricity for countries’ development, commented Pirmatov. Seven of the reactors under construction are in India.

In the meantime, the US decides on imposing tariffs as two small domestic mining companies filed a trade case last year, claiming that imports are a threat to national security. However, Kazatomprom challenges the idea of tariffs as it does not make sense. “There’s no logic,” said Pirmatov, adding that “everyone is aware [that] with this White House, you can’t predict.” While the upcoming years may be turbulent, the interest in carbon-free nuclear power could increase. “There’s definitely long-term interest because of increased concern about climate,” said Chris Gadomski, BNEF’s nuclear analyst.

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