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Another Nuclear Setback

Japan's beleaguered nuclear sector has yet to re-start any reactors damaged by the Tohoku earthquake.

And the country just lost its one remaining operating nuclear plant.

The Oi power plant in western Japan shut down for maintenance last month. Meaning that Japan will be completely without nuclear power during October. The first time this has happened since the 1970s.

Oi is likely to remain offline until at least the end of year. Likely meaning some shifts ahead for global energy demand.

The nuclear outage could give a boost to LNG imports into Japan. Although energy experts Bentek recently said they believe Japanese gas-fired power generation is running at more or less maximum capacity already.

Bentek predicted that Japan's nuclear gap will probably be filled by another fuel: coal.

Indeed, data show that Japan's coal consumption hit a two-year high in August. At nearly 5.7 million tonnes.

If Japanese demand stays brisk, this could be the push the thermal coal market needs to break out of its funk. Interestingly, an increasing number of stories have emerged lately on the phenomenal growth in Indian coal imports. Buyers and investors alike seem to awakening to the fact that supply may be a lot tighter than current prices suggest.

Any firming in prices would likely trigger a rise in beat-up mining stocks. Watch for the beginnings of a rally over the next few months.

Here's to going cold turkey,

By. Dave Forest

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