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Uranium market is coping with impact of the pandemic

Most respondents to UxC’s annual summer survey agreed that the uranium market has so far managed the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic effectively, and is proving robust, despite some initial issues with mine production. There is general consensus that the crisis will not harm the future of nuclear power, UxC said.

UxC’s biannual survey asks utilities and nuclear fuel suppliers about future prices (both spot and long-term), procurement plans, and their view of the impact of changes such as anticipated mine closures and restarts. This year, it also asked them about the impact of COVID-19.

Many respondents observed that reductions to mining operations in response to the pandemic had already been fully factored in by the market. On the demand side, UxC found a mix of opinions. While very few believe the pandemic has caused or will cause a large disruption in nuclear power operations, many agree that some demand reduction is inevitable. Some think that COVID-related issues will directly affect the timing of entries to the market rather than volumes.

“Generally, there is agreement that the pandemic has altered buying behaviour for many utilities, although the extent of these changes is still unclear,” UxC said.

Asked about the lessons from the pandemic for the nuclear fuel market, respondents highlighted the need to “expect the unexpected”, although utilities tended to say the pandemic had proved that their own risk mitigation strategies were adequate. Several respondents highlighted the ability of nuclear power plants and the fuel cycle sector to operate relatively uninterrupted throughout the peak of the lockdowns earlier this year.

The vast majority of respondents believed the trajectory of global nuclear power would not be affected. Others felt it would alter the global economy in ways that could influence nuclear power, including changing investor sentiment about the industry. This could include a faster shift to renewables or rapid development of small or advanced reactors, they said.

Many said that the pandemic had demonstrated nuclear power’s value to the world in providing reliable, base-load electricity supply. The majority expect near-term effects due to lower power demand and other issues, such as extended outages to manage COVID-19 risks, to be temporary, with nuclear power plants fully recovering to pre-pandemic levels relatively soon.

“In fact, some believe nuclear power will ultimately gain significantly from the pandemic as its positive attributes will be more fully appreciated in the long run,” the company said.

Source: World Nuclear News