There were more positive indicators for nuclear energy this week, while the junior resource sector continued to languish. The Athabasca Basin in northern Saskatchewan was a bright spot again, thanks to a new player in the field, however most other uranium stocks were flat or down significantly on the week.
The TSX Venture Exchange was down for yet another week in the ongoing scourge for the junior resource sector. Last week, another 2.15% was erased from the index. The ProEdgeWire uranium and nuclear energy group followed the downward trend experienced by the rest of the junior market. U3O8 Corp (TSXV: UWE | OTCQX: UWEFF) was down 12.75% on the week. Strathmore Minerals (TSX: STM | OTCQX: STHJF) was off 6%. Both IBC Advanced Alloys (TSXV: IB | OTCQX: IAALF) and Crossland Uranium (ASX: CUX) were flat.Uranium companies generally followed suit, with Cameco Corp (TSX: CCO | NYSE: CCJ) down 4.3% on the week, erasing some nice gains from the prior week. Denison Mines (TSX: DML), Paladin Energy (TSX: PDN | ASX: PDN), and Ur-Energy (TSX: URE) probably all consider themselves lucky to have been flat on the week. Uranium Energy Corp (NYSE: UEC) and Uranerz Energy (TSX: URZ | NYSE: URZ) were both down 7.9% on the week, even though UEC has positive news about new resources at one of their Texas satellite deposits. Nevertheless, there was good news for the nuclear industry last week and it came from Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, spoke before Parliament and announced that he would ratify the new reactor safety regulations as soon as possible. The speech was reported in the New York Times. The new nuclear safety commission stated that their new regulations would be available on July 18. The PM’s statement is the most aggressive yet from the Japanese ruling party that they are serious about getting reactors back online quickly.
Down under, in the legislature of Queensland, senators officially engaged in the debate about adopting nuclear energy in that state – surprisingly with both sides more or less agreeing. Motivating this new dialogue is the fact that electricity rates for households are set to increase next year by 22%. Queensland relies on coal plants for power. One of the senators had a lovely quote:
“The Greens talk about solar and wind but those are Mickey Mouse solutions because they will never supply enough power for base demand,”
Both Queensland and Northern Territory reversed decades-long moratoria on uranium mining just last year. Sentiment is clearly on the move. It’s funny how skyrocketing energy costs will create some outrage in the constituency, and suddenly cause a wrong-headed policy to be overturned. Australia currently has no nuclear reactors, but is the third largest producer of uranium in the world.