Cameco investors half a billion richer by lunchtime

After steady gains throughout the morning Cameco Corp. (TSX:CCO) was trading up 6% by lunchtime on Friday, after reports yesterday that its Kazakh join venture is planning to up output by a third.

By 1:15pm EST the miner was trading up 5.3% at $22.20 on the Toronto big board, down from a high of $22.42 struck around 12:30pm. The broader mining sector was generally static on the day with the TSX S&P Global Mining index up 15 basis points.

Cameco is the world's number one miner of uranium and after robust gains in 2012 – up just over a fifth in value – the counter is now worth $8.8 billion on the TSX.

Interfax reported on Thursday Inkai, a joint venture between Cameco and state-owned Kazatomprom, is looking at boosting uranium production from 1,500 tonnes to 2,000 tonnes.

Uranium-oxide concentrate for immediate delivery sold for $51.25 a pound this week. The price of the nuclear fuel has hovered around the $50-mark for the better part of a year but is still down more than 25% from levels reached before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that damaged the Fukushima nuclear power station sending prices tumbling.

Uranium oxide prices peaked above $70/pound at the start of 2011. The Financial Post reported earlier this week JPMorgan forecasts that price could rise to $80 by 2014 "as supply deficits catch up with demand."