Its production share in the Kazakh joint venture “Inkai” remains highly profitable.
Canadian uranium company Cameco plans to increase uranium production next year. This information is stated in its third-quarter report posted on the corporate website, as reported by inbusiness.kz.
“Thanks to market improvements, new long-term contracts we have signed, and negotiation progress on contracts, we are maintaining our plans to increase uranium production to 36 million pounds (approximately 13.8 thousand tons) with 22.4 million pounds being our share (about 8.6 thousand tons), starting in 2024,” the report states.
Recently, inbusiness.kz reported that more countries are ready to increase uranium production in the near future. It is also expected that in 2024, “Kazatomprom” will produce 10% below the planned parameters set in mining agreements with the government, compared to the previous target of 20% below. In September, the company’s board of directors approved an increase in production volumes in 2025 to 100% of the level stipulated in non-proliferation contracts, at around 30.5-31.5 thousand tons, an increase of 6 thousand tons from the previous year.
According to “Vedomosti,” global uranium production increased by 6% to 50.4 thousand tons in 2022, with nuclear power plant demand at 63.5 thousand tons, and with commercial and strategic stockpiles, the total demand reached 74.3 thousand tons.
By the way, speculative uranium funds increased their warehouse holdings. For example, Sprott Physical Uranium Trust (SPUT) increased its stocks by 5% to 62.2 million pounds (23.9 thousand tons) since the beginning of the year – it recently purchased 2.74 million pounds (about 1053 tons) on the spot market. Yellow Cake’s physical uranium volumes reached 20.16 million pounds (7.7 thousand tons), mainly purchased at a discount from “Kazatomprom.” In the first half of next year, Yellow Cake expects delivery of another 1.53 million pounds (587 tons) from the national uranium company at a price of $65.5 per pound, increasing its stocks to 21.68 million pounds (approximately 8.3 thousand tons). Currently, the spot price of uranium has approached $74 per pound, according to the UxC agency.
By the way, in September, Cameco lowered its planned overall production targets for this year from 33 million pounds (12.7 thousand tons) of uranium with its share being 20.3 million pounds (7.8 thousand tons) to 30.3 million pounds (11.6 thousand tons) with a share of 18.7 million pounds (7.2 thousand tons).
Meanwhile, the company’s production share in the third quarter at its key Canadian mines – Cigar Lake (54.5% stake) and McArthur River (70% stake)/Key Lake (83% stake) – increased to 3 million pounds (1154 tons) of uranium concentrate, which is 50% more than the 2 million pounds (769 tons) in the same period last year. In total, in the first nine months of this year, it produced 11.9 million pounds (4.6 thousand tons) in its share of these Canadian assets, an 80% increase compared to 6.6 million pounds (2.5 thousand tons) in January-September 2022.
According to Cameco’s reports, the production of the Kazakh joint venture “Inkai,” in which the company is involved on a 100% basis, was 2 million pounds (769 tons) of uranium for the quarter and 6.3 million pounds (2.4 thousand tons) for the first nine months of this year. Last year, these indicators for the same periods were at the level of 2.3 million pounds (884 tons) and 5.8 million pounds (2.2 thousand tons), respectively. With the changes made to the 2016 agreement on “Inkai,” the company is entitled to purchase 4.2 million pounds (1.6 thousand tons), or 50% of the planned production volume of the joint venture of 8.3 million pounds (3.2 thousand tons) for this year. In this joint venture, Cameco controls 40% of the shares, and “Kazatomprom” – 60%.
Last year, our publication reported that the Canadian nuclear company switched to trans-Caspian transit for its uranium, bypassing Russian territory. Recently, inbusiness.kz reported that this year, 228 containers of uranium concentrate were shipped from Aktau to the Baku port of Alyat, destined for the Georgian port of Poti via the Caspian, likely including volumes from Cameco in addition to Kazatomprom batches. Another hundred containers were expected to be shipped by the end of the year.
“The first shipment, containing approximately two-thirds of our share in Inkai’s production in 2023, is currently on its way. We expect the batch to arrive by the end of 2023. The second batch with the remaining volume of our share of production in 2023 is expected to be shipped by the end of the year and arrive in early 2024,” Cameco’s report clarifies.
The return on equity from “Inkai” in the third quarter was $35 million compared to $9 million for the same period last year. For the nine months, the company’s share income reached $100 million, exceeding $78 million for the first three quarters of 2022, according to the report. Judging by the financial indicators, the “Inkai” joint venture remains a highly profitable company. Thus, its profit for the third quarter was $49 million, and for the first nine months of this year, it reached $160 million.