Energy Fuels confident about $1.5bn investment in US uranium
The US Department of Energy tabled a request for the 2021 Budget to include funding for domestic uranium development over the next 10 years. The CEO of Energy Fuels, Mark Chalmers, is confident that this request will be granted: “Our allies in Congress and the Trump Administration are pushing hard to fund $150-million a year to create the US uranium reserve. We are encouraged that the US Department of Commerce appears committed to negotiating an agreement that will provide concrete benefits to the US uranium mining sector.”
These comments come after the US Government’s treatment of the country’s uranium industry had previously been described as “slow and uneven”.
Energy Fuels is well placed to capitalise on any investments made into the American uranium mining sector. Uranium spot prices are up 30% this year, as Covid-19-related mine closures have created a gap between supply and demand. The price was $32.25/lb as at 31 July. At the same time, the company is developing its production capacities, having resumed production at its White Mesa mill in Utah.
By the end of the year, Energy Fuels forecasts that it will have between 640,000lb and 690,000lb of finished uranium in its inventory.
Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.