Uranium surged almost 8% to $45.25 a pound on Wednesday from $42 Tuesday, according to UxC data. The turmoil could lead to more reliance on suppliers outside Kazakhstan, resulting in a surge in shares of uranium companies in North America and Australia.
Given Kazakhstan’s role as the world’s No. 1 uranium supplier, “it’d be like if the Saudis had issues in oil,” said Jonathan Hinze, president of UxC LLC, a leading nuclear fuel market research and analysis firm. “Even if there isn’t a shortage right now, the potential for this to create a shortage is what people now are trading on.”
The nuclear fuel made a stunning comeback in September with prices surging 24% for the best monthly performance since late 2008. Investors are betting nuclear power will enjoy a renaissance as governments turn away from fossil fuels.
Shares of NAC Kazatomprom JSC, the biggest uranium miner, declined as much as 11% in London, while most uranium companies in North America extended gains from earlier this week after the European Union pushed ahead with a plan to label certain nuclear projects as sustainable.
With the unrest in Kazakhstan, “people wake up to the fact that maybe we can’t rely on one major producer,” said Nick Piquard, a portfolio manager at Horizons ETFs.