Uranium Industry in Crisis of Confidence

From Green Left Weekly

By Mia Pepper

While Australia’s mining sector shows signs of resilience, there is one mineral whose outlook may be terminal.

There are five significant events that have occurred recently that send a clear message about the future of the uranium sector and the wider nuclear industry.

The uranium price dropped to US$34.50 a pound Energy Resources of Australia, the operator of the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu, announced a $54 million loss.

Perth-based uranium miner Paladin Energy failed to sell a stake in its Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia. French nuclear giant EDF announced its exit from nuclear power in the US and Duke Energy cancelled two proposed reactors in Florida.

These incidents are neither isolated nor unrelated — they are significant indicators about the health of nuclear industry. The uranium price was around US$20 through much of the 1980s and 1990s. It increased dramatically around 2005 with the promise of a “nuclear renaissance” but began a steady drop in 2007 through to the end of 2010.

Since the Fukushima disaster — a continuing nuclear crisis fuelled by Australian uranium — the price has been in free fall.

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