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Uranium Spot Prices Fall as Vacation Season Cuts Demand, Ux Says

Uranium spot prices, which weakened after the Fukushima reactor crisis in Japan, fell 1.9 percent in the past week during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer holiday season, Ux Consulting Co. said.

Uranium-oxide concentrate for immediate delivery traded at $50.50 a pound in the seven days through yesterday compared with $51.50 the previous week, Ux said in an e-mailed report today. That’s based on the most competitive offer tracked by the Roswell, Georgia-based company.

The spot price for the nuclear fuel has declined 24 percent since the week before a March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station. The crisis prompted some nations to put their atomic power plans on hold. China halted approval of new plants and Germany said it will shut more than 25 percent of its nuclear capacity.

“The spot uranium market continues to edge downward on price-sensitive demand,” Ux said. “August is the height of the vacation season, giving buyers yet another reason to stay away from a market that has been languishing this summer as the implications of the Fukushima accident have set in.”

Nuclear-power utilities buy the bulk of their uranium from mining companies, with the contracts mostly extending beyond 12 months. The market for immediate delivery, or spot market, allows trading for delivery within a year and includes buying and selling by financial investors.

“Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the market is that the fall buying season is approaching, which could provide some boost to demand and possibly lead to the price bottoming out or showing some slight recovery,” Ux said. “However, this is a far cry from the expanding demand we saw last year that was sufficient to sustain a price increase over a number of months. If sufficient demand is not forthcoming, the price could continue its downward trend.”

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