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Jan 29, 2016 - Japan has restarted its third reactor since a country-wide shutdown in the wake of the Fukushima accident in 2011, after a court ruled it was safe. Kansai Electric Power’s Takahama Unit 3 in Fukui prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, was switched on Friday afternoon. The Shiga prefectural government signed an agreement earlier this week with Kansai Electric on safety issues concerning the Takahama plant in adjacent Fukui Prefecture. The utility plans to restart Takahama Unit 4 in February. Sendai Units 1 and 2 in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima, operated by Kyushu Electric Power, restarted in August and October, ending a two-year hiatus in nuclear power generation.
China can meet its target of achieving 58 GWe of installed nuclear power capacity by 2020, despite slower approval for new plants following the Fukushima accident, according to government officials. The government has taken measures to ensure safety of nuclear facilities between 2011 and 2014, including inspection of all facilities in operation and under construction, adopting the most stringent safety standards, and improving the overall system for nuclear emergency response, according to the China Atomic Energy Authority. China now has 30 reactors operating with a total installed capacity of 28.3 GWe, and 24 units with a total installed capacity of 26.7 GWe under construction.
French energy group Électricité de France (EDF) received a bit of good news this week after announcing that it would delay final approval for construction of the new US$25.7 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in the UK. The company said that it had signed a preliminary agreement with Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd. to build six reactors at Jaitapur, in western India. EDF is taking over the long-delayed project, which could become the world’s biggest nuclear contract, from fellow French state-controlled group AREVA, which will sell its reactor arm to EDF later this year. India continues to ramp up its nuclear program with Unit 2 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant to be commissioned shortly and approval of a two-unit expansion at the facility.
While these developments will lead to increased demand for uranium in the long-term, the near-term uranium market remains sluggish as inventories continue to filter through the market. Activity in the spot uranium market was especially slow this week with only four transactions totaling 500,000 pounds U3O8 equivalent reported. Although a few utilities with “have to” buying needs are currently evaluating offers, the majority of spot uranium demand is discretionary and driven by intermediaries and traders.
One non-US utility is seeking a total of 850,000 pounds U3O8 contained in UF6 for delivery in March and November. The utility, which has some stringent procurement policies, received a limited number of qualifying offers. One US buyer entered the market late in the week seeking approximately 130,000 pounds U3O8 as UF6; offers are due next week. Sellers did exhibit a slight willingness to lower offer prices this week, but the lull in market activity did not prompt significant price concessions due to expectations for an increase in mid-term utility demand in the coming months. TradeTech’s Weekly U3O8 Spot Price Indicator is $34.65 per pound U3O8, down $0.10 from last week’s Indicator and unchanged from the January 28 Daily U3O8 Spot Price Indicator. read more