Husab spared from weak global Uranium prices- Uanguta

HUSAB, Aug. 28 – As Uranium prices continue to under-perform globally, Uranium mines in the country have recently come under pressure; but Husab Mine has been spared the nightmare as it is exporting straight to China – the mine’s mother company – Deputy Governor Ebson Uanguta at Bank of Namibia has said.

“The good thing is that at least for Husab, they are not affected by prices development because their production is being mainly exported to China to the mother company. In that sense we do not really quite expect the impact of international Uranium prices on the production of Uranium especially on Husab,” said the Deputy Governor.

He however expressed his frustration over the uranium enrichment prices which by the beginning of 2015 had fallen by a third from around $90 per SWU to $52 in October 2016, which is actually the lowest it has ever been.

The sustained trend has continued in almost a straight line from the time of the catastrophic Fukushima disaster in March 2011, when they stood at a near-record $155 per SWU.

Husab’s production had been anticipated to bring the much needed turn around to the economy which has already plummeted into a recession and with prices at their lowest, local uranium mines are under fire.

Deputy Governor Ebson Uanguta at Bank of Namibia

“Of course on other mines like Langer Heinrich they could feel that pinch. “Clearly we were expecting much better prospects for Uranium especially when Husab started with production. But where the international prices of Uranium are now, it’s not that much favourable internationally,” lamented the Deputy Governor.

With the surge of Zinc and Copper prices, Uanguta is optimistic this has come at a time to make up for the losses the economy is suffering from Uranium, the anticipated major growth driver.

He is still adamant that a strength in Uranium prices will be more than welcome to push the growth higher up.

“Whether the pick up of Zinc will really be able to take up or fill the slack left by Uranium certainly of course it will. But we wanted to see a much stronger growth from Uranium’s side. Of course any growth coming from any other sector will really help in terms of sustaining some level of growth within the economy,” he said.

Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein has acknowledged the rebounding of Zinc and Copper and he has shared his optimism that a recovery in mining will bolster the needed growth.

“Commodity prices in the mining sector, with the exception of Uranium, have bottomed out and show improved recovery, together, the recovery in mining and agriculture would support potential growth in the primary industries,” he said.

On whether Uranium prices will likely see major recovery to normal levels, nuclear consultant and economist at East Cliff Consulting Steve Kidd was pessimistic.

“There has been a lot of nonsense written in recent months about this, with the corollary that prices will at some point return to more “normal” levels. This is akin to those who invariably anticipate higher uranium prices, when the opposite is often more likely to be the case,” he said in his analyses of the global uranium status quo which he wrote for Nuclear Engineering International.

Yet for Husab there is hope that prices may remain sustainably favourable as China continues to increase its nuclear energy investments with a whooping US$78 billion having been set aside for the erection of 35 reactors in the next four years.

“Many reasons can be posited to justify China’s commitment to nuclear, but perhaps the most appropriate is the fact that nuclear power presents a clear-cut pathway to producing stable, clean and high-density energy,” says Alexandro Pando writing for Forbes. – Jonsey Douglas