[Date Prev][Date Next]
[cdn-nucl-l] Balance at Uranium market
Nuclear.Ru (http://www.nuclear.ru/eng/news/) informed on Sept 02, 2003.
As the World Nuclear Association (WNA) Symposium is nearing, experts are
coming forward with opinions and predictions on future uranium market
developments. The issue is always hot to handle due to the variety of
positions, assessments and predictions. On the threshold of the event,
Nuclear.Ru tried to get an idea of what is going to happen and what would be
the key issues for discussion. Judging from the topics to be discussed, it
implicitly comes out that the idea is to anticipate surprises that the
future might force the industry to face.
As it goes forward, the market could be challenged with two major trends of
supply/demand development, which are radically different. Some of the world’
s prominent analysts, like Mike Connor from Nuclear Resources International,
Inc. (NRI), believe, and that may be the focus of the trend, that the market
within the coming decade could be balancing on the edge of collapse, yet
with an opportunity to avoid falling into chaos by merging common sense and
Depending on different scenarios of nuclear power development, as
forecasters say, considering recent higher plant capacity factors,
increasing fuel burn-ups, and higher enriched product and tails assays,
there may be a gap arising from uncertainties of whether new sources are to
come in as expected, or existing ones continue undiminished. On the one hand
there are the mines to be explored and other sources to come up (Cigar Lake,
Honeymoon, Jabiluka, expansion at Olympic Dam, and others, and Russian HEU
exports “phase II”).
But what if they never happen? This would cause, as Mr. Connor believes, a
severe shortfall just when the nuclear power demand (within the announced
nuclear power build-up programs in various countries) grows. Could we call
it a chaos? Perhaps, yes, he says. Because, what we do have now is already
not enough, let alone for future decades. If we are to count upon these new
supplies, which are called for just to keep the future long-term supplies
flat, we are to face prices going up (the question is only how soon and how
high) and it is clear that we would need even more supplies.
According to Mr. Connor, this could be a question of the survivability of
nuclear power in the environs where the developing national nuclear power
industries are tapping the market for feed. There are some reserves
certainly, if developed. There are Central Asia, Canada, and Australia to
narrow the gap. In Mr. Connor’s opinion, there are levers to force
politicians to adopt favourable decisions regarding more recycling of tails,
more HEU deals.
Any innovations are welcome, he says, to retain the balance. This could be a
step back from the brink. It can be made but not without a lot of effort by
a lot of people: say, through 15-20 new uranium supply projects, the
utilities buying SWU at lower tail assays, more mines, more HEU/LEU,
decisive and timely and competent political decisions made now meaning
long-term. This is one of the messages for WNA attendees to dwell on. There
will be certainly other opinions expressed to give food for thought about
the reality which means the future.