Uranium prices took another slump the last several weeks.
Spot prices for uranium oxide have now fallen below $30 per pound for the first time since 2005. Even long-term prices sagged, falling below $50–to a current $45 per pound.
That’s stopped the wave of optimism that had been running through uranium stocks earlier this year.
But the fundamental news in terms of supply and demand here continues to be bullish. As evidenced by a major mine deferral we saw late last week.
The move came from the world’s largest public uranium producer, Cameco. Who told regulators in Canada that it is shelving one of its biggest development projects in the uranium-rich province of Saskatchewan.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) said in a press release Friday that Cameco is not proceeding with permitting for the company’s Millennium project. The up-and-coming mine had been scheduled for public hearings in June, to consider the grant of a 10-year operating license.
But the CNSC noted that Cameco “does not wish to proceed with the licensing of the Millennium Mine project at this time.” With the miner citing “current economic conditions” as the reason for the deferral.
That undoubtedly means Cameco is concerned about low uranium prices. And how they will affect the potential economics of a start-up at Millennium.
The company has now reportedly withdrawn its application to construct and operate the mine. Representing one of the biggest losses of potential supply the uranium market has seen for some time.
Simply put, Millennium was one of the world’s premier uranium development projects. Hosting an indicated mineral resource of 46.8 million pounds uranium oxide–grading a league-leading 4.53% U3O8.
The proposed mine here would have been one of the world’s largest producers. Slated to put out up to 7 million pounds of uranium oxide yearly.
But all of that supply is now lost to the market. Just another sign that current prices are too low to support much of the existing uranium mining industry. Let alone necessary expansion projects.
This is not a sustainable situation. With supply also falling in major producing centre like Kazakhstan and Africa, something will have to give.