Cameco scorns ‘mythical’ uranium demand, vows supply discipline

Cigar Lake mine. Image from Cameco.

North America’s largest uranium miner won’t crank up production of the radioactive metal to chase what one executive calls “mythical” market demand.

Instead, Canada’s Cameco Corp. is advocating “indefinite supply discipline” by limiting production at two of its key Canadian uranium operations starting in 2024, despite plans to restart its idled McArthur River/Key Lake operations in Saskatchewan this year.

“Our focus is shifting to securing homes for our in-ground inventory that is not yet been committed,” Chief Executive Officer Tim Gitzel said Wednesday in an earnings call with analysts. “We won’t chase the market down to win business and we won’t produce to dump uncommitted supply into a thinly traded spot market as we’ve seen some of our competitors do.”

The CEO’s comments throw cold water on the idea of a looming uranium rally fueled by an improving outlook for nuclear power amid a global push for more clean energy.

Cameco told analysts that it’s looking to book contracts years in advance to catch a coming windfall of demand, though it’s not clear how many new projects will emerge. That leaves the thinly traded spot market at a standstill and why prices lost steam when immediate demand failed to materialize. The Sprott Physical Uranium Trust, which tracks spot prices, is down more than 20% since a September high.

“This is how the uranium market works — it is not a spot market, it is not a market where you have an opportunity on an annual basis to capture full global demand,” Cameco’s Chief Financial Officer Grant Isaac said in the call.

“For us it’s about responding to the actual market and industrial structure of the uranium space, not to some mythical spot market assumption for creating value and uranium, because that’s been a failed strategy over and over again.”

(By Joe Deaux)

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