The story of nuclear power’s rebirth can be told in two halves; before Fukushima and after. Pre- Fukushima, nuclear power was a futuristic fuel that promised limitless energy with little pollution. Today, following the Japanese disaster, nuclear has once again become a scary word. Japan has all but shut its nuclear power fleet; TEPCO, the operator at Fukushima and other plants, has had to be nationalised. Switzerland, Germany, Spain and Austria have all banned nuclear power altogether. The US, currently the largest generator, won’t build another plant for decades; cheap gas has seen to that. Even China and India are re-thinking the scale of their nuclear programs.
Spot and contract prices, which traded above US$70 a pound before Fukushima, are today just US$50 a pound. With demand permanently impaired, prices are unlikely to revisit old peaks. This bodes poorly for uranium miners.