The future demand and subsequent price for uranium has a bright future as planned nuclear phases outs are generating opposition according to uranium company Paladin Energy. This may be the driving factor behind the company’s investigation into re-opening its Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia.
A decision by United States President Donald Trump to decline issuing quotas for US domestic uranium production was announced on 12 July 2019. The decision is expected to encourage additional buying activity and contribute to improved market conditions moving forward Paladin says.
Planned nuclear phase-outs in Germany and Belgium continue to generate opposition. The German government has received escalating calls from major business leaders to delay plans to implement a full-scale shut down by 2022.
Climate protection and availability of affordable baseload generating capacity have been cited in support of nuclear energy in the country.
Meanwhile, Paladin Energy says the Belgian grid operator has advised that the country is not ready for any scenario where nuclear power plants are closed.
The current shutdown schedule has all Belgian reactors closed by the end of 2025, however, the grid operator has stated that a serious capacity crisis would result even allowing for a more gradual closure schedule.
Japan’s government has adopted a new energy policy that suggests the country must rely on a larger share of nuclear and renewables to slash its carbon emissions and meet its target of a 26% reduction by 2030.
The move comes as operation of re-started nuclear plants is threatened by delays in completion of anti-terrorism protection work. A failure to meet deadlines imposed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority could result in several reactors being forced to shut down until the work is completed.
Officials have reported that China could build as many as 30 overseas reactors by 2030 via rollout of the country’s “Belt and Road Initiative”.
Exports of nuclear power technology has been adopted as a state strategy with financial and policy support currently under development.
News bodes well for Langer Heinrich
The Langer Heinrich mine was successfully transitioned into care and maintenance in August 2018.
In March 2019, Paladin commenced with a two-stage PFS for the possible restart of the mine.
The first stage of the PFS will examine a rapid, low-risk restart and is on track to be completed in September 2019.
The second stage of the PFS is expected to be completed by March 2020 and involves a more detailed study, including process optimisation aimed at lowering costs, recovering vanadium and potentially increasing production in the later stages of the mine life.
A restart of the Langer Heinrich mine will only be considered if forecast cash flows from uranium sales provide an appropriate return on investment.