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Uranium Outlook 2013: Rebound On The Horizon

Uranium demand growth strong

Analysts are betting on a robust long-term outlook for uranium demand — and with good reason. Nuclear power expansion projects are expanding in nations around the world, including China, India, Russia, Ukraine, the US, the UK, South Korea and even the United Arab Emirates. Data from the World Nuclear Association shows that 62 reactors will be under construction worldwide in 2013, with another 484 either planned or proposed. China leads the way with 26 nuclear reactors under construction and a five-year plan for growing its nuclear program to an installed capacity of between 70 and 80 GWe by 2020; that's compared to its current capacity of 12 GWe. By 2030, the Asian nation hopes to extend capacity to 200 GWe.

Global demand for the nuclear fuel is expected to increase from 166 million pounds in 2011 to 226 million pounds by 2020, and should total 280 million pounds U3O8 by 2030, according to The Australian.

Aboveground uranium supply deficit expected in 2014

While it's clear that the demand side of the uranium market will see significant growth in the years ahead, what's still uncertain is how the market will supply that demand.

The not-so-stellar performance of the U3O8 spot price and the political fallout post-Fukushima have severely depressed share prices for the entire uranium sector, from explorers to producers. As a result, many companies have had to shelve crucial development and expansion projects — that topic has been covered extensively this year by Uranium Investing News.

Industry leaders have said it will take U3O8 spot prices of at least $70/lb to $80/lb for projects like Olympic Dam, Langer Heinrich, Kintyre and Cigar Lake to become economical once again. High-profile expansion and production deferrals coupled with the end of the HEU agreement this year have the potential to create a significantly tight market in the medium term. That could lead to a rebound in spot prices as early as the second half of 2013.

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