The spot market price for uranium climbed almost 3 percent from the previous week, reaching $70.00 per pound, according to the Ux Consulting Company. On January 21, TradeTech had reported a $2.50 increase to $69.00 per pound, which was the highest level reported since April 2008, with strong signals that the spot market price might break the $70.00 threshold. The reports of missed production targets from several producers, including the January 20 Paladin Energy Ltd. (TSE:PDN) (ASX:PDN) announcement, have already exerted upward pressure on the price. Paladin Energy announced that its 2011 operational target was reduced 14 percent due to production delays at its Kayelekera project in Malawi and Monday's news of Denison Mines (TSE:DML) (AMEX:DNN) scaling down production for the year should escalate this effect on near term pricing forecasts.
Following the Denison announcement of a 17 percent reduction in production estimates, the market responded very strongly sending the stock price into the $3.85 range, an increase of approximately 11 percent over the previous trading session. Denison expects that uranium production should total 1.2 million pounds from ore in stockpile and from the Beaver, Pandora and Arizona 1 mines as well as production from the alternate feed circuit at the White Mesa Mill in the United States. Vanadium production is projected to total approximately 2.2 million pounds. The company will focus its efforts on exploration as it looks to boost production to at least 10 million pounds a year by 2020. Denison will spend $8.8 million on exploration in 2011, including $6 million at Wheeler River in the uranium-rich Athabasca Basin of Saskatchewan.
Bullish tone for uranium from President's State of the Union address
President Obama called for low-carbon energy, including nuclear sources, to provide 80 percent of America's electricity by 2035, in a State of the Union speech that stressed the need for new innovation and direct investment in energy technology. Focusing on several transformative energy related “Apollo projects of our time,” Obama mentioned one initiative at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which he indicated utilizes “supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities.”
President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have identified nuclear energy as an area of potential cooperation, a notion that continued in congressional reaction to the President's clean energy portfolio. Meeting an 80 percent clean energy goal by 2035 is ambitious; however, if current and successive administrations become increasingly involved in working with a cooperative congress in bipartisan discipline, a national energy policy could mean excellent potential returns for uranium industry stakeholders and investors.
Regulatory safety review
Last week a team of international nuclear safety experts completed a two-week International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) review of the regulatory system for nuclear safety in Romania.
The team was comprised of experts from 12 countries: Canada, the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Ukraine. They highlighted the Romanian system's most effective features and suggested areas of improvement for the country´s nuclear regulatory authority. The IAEA has conveyed the team's main conclusions, and a final report will be submitted to the authority in about two months.
The mission was a peer review based on the IAEA Safety Standards and was not an inspection or an audit, and it builds upon earlier safety reviews that Romania has requested over the past several years. The scope covered the Romanian nuclear regulatory framework for all types of facilities and was conducted from January 17 to 28. The IAEA team coordinator David Graves said, I've been pleased by Romania's openness and transparency. The country has a strong history of inviting IAEA safety review missions, setting a good example for the international community.