Desperate uranium miners switch to survival mode despite nuclear rebound

Mon Oct 3, 2016 2:00am EDT
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* World nuclear output on the way to pre-Fukushima levels

* Uranium price at decade lows as inventory remains high

* Spot prices below cost of production at most mines

* Miners close pits, sell assets to reduce debt

By Geert De Clercq

LONDON, Oct 3 (Reuters) - The nuclear industry is gradually recovering from its post-Fukushima slump, but excess capacity keeps uranium prices at record lows, forcing mining companies to mothball mines, slice costs and cut debt as they struggle to survive.

In the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, Japan closed its nuclear reactors, which accounted for some ten percent of the more than 400 reactors operating globally.

Several other countries including Germany announced plans to exit nuclear, and in the past three years several nuclear reactors in the United States were closed as they could no longer compete with cheap shale gas.

Five years later, only three of Japan's 42 reactors are back in operation but new reactors brought online in China and other countries have partly made up for the Japanese closures.   Continued...