There is a bit of tension building up over Cameco's announcement... my guess (and it is just that) is that the news won't be too positive on Cigar Lake, giving the sellers the edge in the current stand-off.
Like Washington Irving’s fictional short story character, the spot uranium price has taken a snooze. It’s been five weeks of no change in the spot price of uranium – an impatient eternity for the metal which nearly doubled during 2006. This past Thursday, Cameco announced a company conference call would take place on Wednesday, February 7th to discuss the fourth quarter financial results and company developments.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the specific update investors will mostly want to hear about is the remediation progress at the company’s Cigar Lake uranium mine in Canada’s Saskatchewan province. Cameco failed to mention Cigar Lake in its news release, but analysts and the media will quickly inquire if the subject is not brought up. While investors gather around the Internet chat boards, like gamblers in a casino – trying to determine whether the spot uranium price will float higher or sink by February 7th, utilities are faced with a different crisis.
According to Treva Klingbiel, editor of TradeTech’s Nuclear Market Review (NMR), “Buyers are finding it increasingly difficult to locate willing sellers, as sellers grow increasingly confident about continued price increases.” NMR publishes changes in the spot uranium price every Friday in its weekly publication. No new transactions or new demand was reported in either the spot or long-term uranium markets this past week.
Although no new transactions were reported, the spot uranium market remains very tight. This week’s Nuclear Market Review reported that ten buyers, including seven utilities and three intermediaries, continue to seek offers for more than five million pounds of U3O8 equivalent. One U.S. utility is hoping to buy 650,000 thousand pound of U3O8 contained in UF6. The same tension is found in the long-term market where fifteen buyers are actively hoping to purchase nearly 54 million pounds of U3O8 equivalent.
This past week’s quarterly update from ERA (Australia) announcing a 20-percent drop in uranium mining production for 2006 was expected, but probably not welcome news. The ballyhoo about the company’s single digit increased uranium oxide production may have sounded good on paper, but the increased production is insufficient from one of the world’s largest uranium miner to feed a hungry nuclear fuel market. Again, uranium mining companies could not keep up this year’s demand for yellowcake and UF6. The uranium bull market continues.
We suspect transactions may pick up a bit through the week of February 7th as nervous buyers and confident sellers hedge their bets on Cameco’s Cigar Lake update. Before the Cameco update, Nuclear Market Review will issue two more spot price announcements. In February, the stalemate should be over, and we will have a more transparent picture of the direction spot uranium price takes for the balance of the first quarter and possibly for the rest of the year.