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DOE Uranium Reduction Should Help Boost Market

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Published : May 03rd, 2017
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Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry issued a determination that reduces the amount of uranium the department can transfer in 2017 and 2018; the reduction should give a boost to uranium producers.

Every two years the Secretary of Energy is required to determine the amount of uranium allowed to be transferred to support the clean-up work at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Ohio. On April 26, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry released a determination to permit transfers of 1,200 metric tons of uranium (1,200 MTU) per year, down from 1,600 MTU.

According to the Department of Energy, the agency "has been transferring excess uranium in exchange for services at the Portsmouth site for several years, and current law requires that a new Secretarial Determination be made every two years to assess whether future planned transfers would have an adverse material impact on the domestic uranium industries. The last Secretarial Determination for uranium transfers in support of this clean-up work was issued on May 1, 2015."

Rob Chang, an analyst with Cantor Fitzgerald, wrote on May 1 that this development is "positive to the uranium sector as it reduces the amount of uranium that was being dispersed into the market by the U.S. Department of Energy."

Chang noted that the stipulated maximums are "800 MTU of UF6 for the remainder of 2017 and 1,200 MTU for 2018. . .this translates into about 2M lbs and 3.1 M lbs of U3O8 equivalent for those years." Chang also stated that "the maximum amount was always transferred in the past and many industry participants believed that these transfers had an adverse impact on the market as it increased spot supply."

Kazakhstan's uranium producer Kazatomprom announced a 10% cut in annual supply earlier this year; that cut, according to Chang, "sparked a spot uranium price rally from US$20.25/lb to a peak of US$26.00/lb, or by 28%. Uranium equities across the board experienced large gains during the same period."

Stephen P. Antony, president and CEO of Energy Fuels Inc. (EFR:TSX; UUUU:NYSE.MKT), hailed the Department of Defense's action and noted that "as uranium prices rise, Energy Fuels has low-cost projects that are ready to increase production, including our Canyon Mine, Nichols Ranch ISR Project and Alta Mesa ISR Project."

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