VANCOUVER – Uranium prices and producers’ shares soared after Japan cleared the way for restart of the first of the nuclear reactors shut after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Cameco Corp., Canada’s largest uranium producer, increased 11 percent, the biggest gain since August 2010. Denison Mines Corp. climbed 20 percent and explorer Fission Uranium Corp. rose 18 percent in Toronto.
Kyushu Electric Power Co. on Friday received final local approval to resume power generation at its Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture. All reactors in Japan have been shut since the March 2011 meltdowns crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time,” David Sadowski, a Vancouver-based analyst at Raymond James Financial Inc., wrote Friday in a note to clients. “Restarts in Japan will reduce the threat that Japan’s utilities will dump their uranium inventories into the market.”
Sendai’s two reactors are in position to be the first in Japan to resume operations under more stringent safety rules set by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the industry watchdog. Officials in Satsumasendai, which hosts the Sendai plant, last month voted in favor of allowing restart. Final reviews of construction and safety rules must still be completed.
The Solactive Global Uranium Total Return Index, which tracks 21 companies in the uranium mining industry, rose the most since December 2008. The index is still down 80 percent from its highest closing price in 2011.
The price of U3O8, a tradable form of uranium, rose 4.3 percent to $39.50 a pound on Friday, the biggest gain since March 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The metal traded as high as $73 in January 2011.
“We are hearing that several utilities are in the market looking for supply,” Sadowski said.