Scotiabank economist Patricia Mohr forecasts that spot uranium prices "may well bottom in 2012, with sentiment and prices starting to recover in 2013 ahead of the expiry of the Russia-U.S. HEU agreement removing 24 million pounds from Western markets."
In the May 10 edition of the Scotiabank Commodity Price Index, Mohr noted that Japan's Prime Minister "favors a relatively quick restart of Japan's nuclear power (due to the high cost to the economy and industry of imported oil, LNG and coal) and the potential that high electricity prices and shortages may trigger a shift in manufacturing capability overseas."
"The Japanese government is expected to unveil proposals for a new energy mix in May 2012," she said.
Mohr also observed that the growth markets of China, India, the UAE, South Korea and Russia—"where electricity requirements are huge—will go ahead with substantial nuclear expansion over the balance of this decade, more than offsetting setbacks elsewhere."
"Demand for uranium concentrates (U3O3) could grow from 173 million pounds to 225 million by 2020 (3.3% per annum), with significant new mine development required at higher capital costs," she forecast.
Mohr noted new nuclear reactor construction is expected to resume in China during the second half of the year now that China has completed its nuclear safety review. "In the United States, the Obama Administration remains committed to nuclear energy, though there is stepped-up competition from natural-gas fired power plants," she said.
Meanwhile, Mohr suggested that world supply and demand conditions for refined copper "will remain in deficit in 2012. While China's consumption growth will slow to 7%, supply disruptions and lower grades continue to inhibit mine output."