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Uranium Prices: Uranium Demand Growth Will Be Slow

In the World Nuclear Association’s latest (biennial) report, World nuclear capacity will grow dramatically in the coming years, but stockpiled uranium will mean it will take some time for new uranium to be required.

This is disappointing news for those who are expecting that increases in nuclear capacity will result in a very near-term boost in uranium demand.

According to the report, Global nuclear capacity will grow between 35% to 70%. Even if growth comes in at the lower end of the range, it will be the highest growth in nuclear power seen over the past 20 years with China dominating, increasing capacity from 37 GWe to 141 GWe.

While installed capacity will grow, the estimates are lower compared to the last report (from 2015) due to economic closures, less new construction than previously expected in the U.S., delays in China, changes to South Korea’s plans and slower restarts in Japan.

World reactor requirements for uranium, estimated at about 65,000 tU in 2017 will rise to 2025 and 94,000 tU in 2035 in the reference scenario. In the Upper Scenario, uranium requirements are expected to be 84,000 tU in 2025, and 122,000 tU in 2035. These figures are down from the 2015 report.

World uranium production rose to 62,221 tU in 2016, and according to the report, known global resources of uranium are more than adequate to satisfy reactor requirements to well beyond 2035. Currently, depressed uranium prices have curtailed exploration activities and the opening of new mines, and the number and size of new mines that are under development have fallen significantly compared with the 2015 report.