SOURCE: Resource Capital Research

Resource Capital Research

April 03, 2012 06:30 ET

Resource Capital Research -- March Quarter 2012: Global Uranium Companies

Equity research report

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Apr 3, 2012) - Key Points

Uranium Market:

  • The uranium spot market has stabilised and for the past six months been trading in the range of US$51-53/lb, except for a short breakout in November.
  • The uranium spot price is US$51.00/lb (Mar 26) with stable outlook for the next 12 to 18 months.
  • The contract price is US$60.00/lb (March 31).
  • The long term uranium market fundamentals are considered solid, with growth in nuclear power reactors expected, particularly from China and India.
  • Over 80 new nuclear power reactors are expected to be commissioned globally by 2017, with 61 currently under construction and another 491 planned or proposed (9 more than before Fukushima, WNA).

Uranium Companies:

  • Uranium equity prices have been trending up for the past 6 months.
  • The Merrill Lynch Uranium Equity Index is up 37% since hitting a low of 202 October 4, 2011.
  • The emergence of strong strategic investor support and acquisition activity in the uranium sector reinforces the midterm positive outlook.
  • There have been recent political and regulatory changes in a number of jurisdictions accommodating uranium exploration and/or development, including NSW.

Analyst Comments:

"Nuclear remains a key aspect of energy policy for many countries including China, India, Russia and the USA. There are currently 491 nuclear energy reactors planned or proposed globally, 9 more than prior to Fukushima," said John Wilson, Managing Director of RCR.

"The key lesson from Japan's nuclear crisis points to the need for, and benefit of, greater transparency and accountability of democratic governments and their institutions, and stricter oversight of government agencies in general; in this case nuclear agencies specifically," said John Wilson.

Resource Capital Research ("RCR"), an equity research company which focuses on small and mid size resource companies, today launched its major quarterly research report covering 9 global uranium exploration and development companies, including Paladin Energy Limited and Laramide Resources Limited.

To access the free summary report or to purchase the full comprehensive report, go to www.rcresearch.com.au/reports. RCR also publishes gold, iron ore, and copper sector reports.

Equity market performance

It is over 12 months since the 11 March 2011 Fukushima accident. The impact to the uranium sector has now been factored in and the market is expected to be broadly in balance for the next 12 to 18 months.

Uranium equities have staged a recovery over the past 6 months. A broad sector index, the Merrill Lynch Uranium Equity Index (a global basket of uranium equities) is up 37% (as of 27 March 2012) having bottomed at 202 on 4 October 2011. The uptrend since then, however, has been volatile. The index is down 5% in the last month, up 20% in the past 3 months, and down 38% for the 12 months.

Over the past one month the Australian uranium majors have outperformed their Canadian peers with the Australian stocks up 0 to 5% and the Canadians down 5 to 15%. With the exception of ERA, the global majors in the above table have performed strongly in the past 6 months.

Uranium price and market outlook

The uranium spot price is US$51.00/lb. The spot market has been trading in the range of US$51-53/lb over the past 6 months, except for a short breakout in November.

Immediately prior to the Japanese earthquake on 11 March 2011, the spot price had been trading at US$67.75/lb, a 12 month high.

While the sector outlook has stabilised there remains the uncertainty around when Japan will restart its reactors. At present, only 1 of its 54 reactors is operating with the rest shut down for maintenance or safety reviews.

Buying opportunities continue to emerge driven by perceptions of a floor to the uranium spot price holding at around US$50/lb, and strong strategic investor support and acquisition activity at the large end of the market.

Sector fundamentals appear positive in the mid and long term. Over 80 new nuclear power reactors are expected to be commissioned globally by 2017, with 61 currently under construction. There are 491 new reactors planned or proposed (9 March 2012, WNA) which is 9 more than pre Fukushima (482, 2 March 2011). Current planned and proposed reactors include 171 in China, 56 in India, 41 in Russia, 30 in the USA, and 13 in Ukraine.

The long term contract uranium price is US$60.00/lb (31 March 2012), down from US$62.50/lb (30 November 2011) and US$73.00/lb (28 February 2011).

While it may trend a little weaker in the near term, we expect the contract price to remain around the US$60-70/lb mark. This level should support development decisions at a number of advanced uranium development projects, particularly in Namibia, eg the large scale Husab project of Extract Resources.

WNA forecasts a modest market surplus in 2013 and 2015, and a modest deficit in 2014 -- leading to an overall balanced market through 2015. Key factors that could impact the balanced market outlook include disruption and delays to existing and new projects, and the extent of new commercial deals for secondary supply post HEU in 2013.

Indeed, market prices are being closely watched in Kazakhstan where the current installed nameplate production capacity is understood to be 66mlbspa (16mlbs above 2011 production of 50mlbs U3O8) -- officials have said they will cap production at current levels till market prices and demand provide support for additional production.

Events of the past 3 months include:

Political and regulatory changes in a number of jurisdictions for uranium exploration and/or development:

  • In Canada, the moratorium on Labrador Inuit lands has been lifted to allow uranium exploration and mining.
  • The new LNP Queensland government is expected to adopt the federal LNP policy in favour of uranium exploration and mining, though intentions and timing await clarification.
  • The government in NSW has voted in favour of a Bill to allow uranium exploration in the state.

About Resource Capital Research

Resource Capital Research ("RCR") (www.rcresearch.com.au) was founded in 2004 and is based in Sydney. RCR provides investors with in-depth reports on current investment opportunities in the mining sector both in Australia and globally. The focus is on small and mid cap resource companies, within the gold and uranium sectors, ranging from exploration stage through development and production. John Wilson the principal of the firm and analyst has over twelve years' experience analysing mining companies in Sydney and on Wall Street including for major investment banks.

The report is available at www.rcresearch.com.au. The next Uranium Sector Review will be published in the March Quarter, 2012.

Abbreviations: WNA - World Nuclear Association, ktpa - thousand tonnes per annum, lb - pound, Mlb pa - million pounds per annum, U3O8 - uranium oxide.

Contact Information

  • For further information please contact:
    John Wilson
    Analyst
    Resource Capital Research,
    Phone: (+61- 2) 9252 9405
    Email: Email Contact