In a Dec. 4 research note, BMO analysts Alexander Pearce and Edward Sterck reported that beginning in January 2018, Kazatomprom plans to reduce uranium production by 20% over the next three years to, as the Kazakh state uranium company phrased it, "better align its output with demand." Between 2018 and 2020, it will suspend a total of about 28.6 million pounds (28.6 Mlb) of uranium production, with roughly 10.4 Mlb of it being held back in 2018, according to Kazatomprom's estimates.
For the three-year period, with its uranium production deferral, Kazatomprom's uranium production, per BMO calculations, will be "between 4.5 and 12 Mlb lower than our current estimate (2018 to 2020) or between 3 and 7% of total global mine supply," the analysts indicated.
Considering the impact of Kazatomprom's cutback on total global uranium supply in 2018 alone, BMO noted that supply had already taken a cut with Cameco Corp.'s (CCO:TSX; CCJ:NYSE) announcement to suspend production at McArthur River for 10 months in 2018. BMO estimated the resulting supply decrease due to Cameco to be 20 Mlb "including new reactor buffer inventory build," or 13 Mlb excluding that build, they added.
Kazatomprom's plan to withhold about 4.5 Mlb of uranium supply "represents a deepening of the deficit in 2018 to ~25 Mlb on our forecast including buffer inventory build or ~17 Mlb excluding buffer inventory build," the analysts wrote.
Kazatomprom's uranium production decrease also is "likely to add support to the uranium price, particularly following the recent suspension at McArthur River," the BMO report stated. It "sends further signals to utilities that future uranium supplies are by no means guaranteed at current prices."
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