Things appeared to be stabilizing in the global uranium market the last several months. With prices for the metal settling into a comfortable groove between $36 and $44 per pound.
But that peace could soon be shattered, according to reports from major nuclear player Japan yesterday.
The Japan Times reported that the country's key nuclear operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) is preparing to sell part of its uranium stockpiles. With documents obtained from the utility suggesting that more than 750 tonnes of uranium could be sold over the coming months. Related: Does Nuclear Power Deserve Such A Bad Image?
Tepco is considering the move in order to reduce costs associated with holding ever-growing uranium stockpiles. The company has not consumed any uranium since 2011, shortly after the Fukushima disaster resulted in a complete nuclear shutdown across Japan.
That stoppage has left uranium piling up in storage, as Tepco continues to take delivery of mine supplies purchased under long-term contracts. The company now holds 17,570 tonnes of uranium -- up from 16,805 tonnes prior to Fukushima. Related: Goldman Sachs Predicting $45 Oil By October
Tepco says it wants to reduce those stocks to pre-Fukushima levels. Implying that it could divest up to 765 tonnes.
That's equivalent to 1.69 million pounds of uranium. Or about 1% of yearly demand worldwide -- suggesting that this divestment alone shouldn't be a showstopper for prices. Related: Oil To Return To $80 With Or Without OPEC Cut Says Iranian Official
But Tepco also said it may take further steps to reduce its uranium stocks -- including terminating uranium purchase contracts it currently holds with miners globally.
Such a development would represent a significant reduction in demand. And might be enough to cause a drag on the global market.
The firm said it is looking to make all of these moves by the end of the fiscal year, this coming March. Watch for news about stockpile divestments, and purchase contracts cancellations coming soon.
Here's to clearing out the clutter,
More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:
- $50 Billion Mega Project Could Change South America Forever
- This Innovation Will Help U.S. Companies Win The Oil Price War
- How China Threw Its Rare Earths Monopoly Away