Visibility has improved on the re-start of nuclear reactors in Japan, after the island nation’s Cabinet approved a new Energy Plan on April 10.
The plan calls nuclear “an important base-load power source” and states that “reactors will be restarted once their safety is confirmed.”
“With the plan in place, all that remains ahead of first restarts is approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) and local governments on individual power plants,” David Sadowski, a mining analyst covering the uranium sector at Raymond James in Vancouver, explains in a research note to clients.
“Kyushu Electric’s Sendai units 1 and 2 were selected earlier this year by the NRA to be fast-tracked and are thus in the pole position. We believe that NRA approvals on these units may come as soon as next week as part of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum in Tokyo (April 15 & 16), paving the way for more approvals later.”
Rob Chang, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald in Toronto, notes that while Japan’s approval of the plan was “mostly expected,” it did take “longer than we thought,” and “there was some concern that there would be strong enough push back to possibly derail nuclear.”
Chang expects that two reactors will be restarted or approved in the next three months, with as many as a total of six given the go-ahead this year.
Sadowski expects spot prices will remain below US$40 per lb. for the rest of the year, averaging US$36 per lb. in 2014 and US$52 per lb. in 2015.
Spot uranium hit a new eight-year low of US$33.31 per lb. on Apr. 10, while the term price at the end of March was US$47 per lb.
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