Category Archives: uranium and nuclear
Feb 27 2017
Full report is HERE
Executive Summary 2016 Mining Survey
This report presents the results of the Fraser Institute’s 2016 annual survey of mining and exploration companies. The survey is an attempt to assess how mineral endowments and public policy factors such as taxation and regulatory uncertainty affect exploration investment. The survey was circulated electronically to approximately 2,700 individuals between August 30th and November 18th, 2016. Survey responses have been tallied to rank provinces, states, and countries according to the extent that public policy factors encourage or discourage mining investment.
A total of 350 responses were received for the survey, providing sufficient data to evaluate 104 jurisdictions. By way of comparison, 109 jurisdictions were evaluated in 2015, 122 in 2014, 112 in 2013, and 96 in 2012. The number of jurisdictions that can be included in the study tends to wax and wane as the mining sector grows or shrinks due to commodity prices and sectoral factors.
The Investment Attractiveness Index takes both mineral and policy perception into consideration
An overall Investment Attractiveness Index is constructed by combining the Best Practices Mineral Potential index, which rates regions based on their geologic attractiveness, and the Policy Perception Index, a composite index that measures the effects of government policy on attitudes toward exploration investment. While it is useful to measure the attractiveness of a jurisdiction based on policy factors such as onerous regulations, taxation levels, the quality of infrastructure, and the other policy related questions respondents answered, the Policy Perception Index alone does not recognize the fact that investment decisions are often sizably based on the pure mineral potential of a jurisdiction. Indeed, as discussed below, respondents consistently indicate that only about 40 percent of their investment decision is determined by policy factors.
The top jurisdiction in the world for investment based on the Investment Attractiveness Index is Saskatchewan, which moved up to first from second place in 2015. Manitoba moved up to second place this year after ranking 19th the previous year. Western Australia dropped to third, after Saskatchewan displaced it as the most attractive jurisdiction in the world. Rounding out the top ten are Nevada, Finland, Quebec, Arizona, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland, and Queensland.
When considering both policy and mineral potential in the Investment Attractiveness Index, the Argentinian province of Jujuy ranks as the least attractive jurisdiction in the world for investment. This year, Jujuy replaced another Argentinian province—La Rioja—as the least attractive jurisdiction in the world. Also in the bottom 10 (beginning with the worst) are Neuquen, Venezuela, Chubut, Afghanistan, La Rioja, Mendoza, India, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.
Policy Perception Index: A “report card” to governments on the attractiveness of their mining policies
While geologic and economic considerations are important factors in mineral exploration, a region’s policy climate is also an important investment consideration. The Policy Perception Index (PPI), is a composite index that measures the overall policy attractiveness of the 104 jurisdictions in the survey. The index is composed of survey responses to policy factors that affect investment decisions. Policy factors examined include uncertainty concerning the administration of current regulations, environmental regulations, regulatory duplication, the legal system and taxation regime, uncertainty concerning protected areas and disputed land claims, infrastructure, socioeconomic and community development conditions, trade barriers, political stability, labor regulations, quality of the geological database, security, and labor and skills availability.
For the fourth year in a row, the Republic of Ireland had the highest PPI score of 100. Ireland was followed by Saskatchewan in second, which moved up from 4th in the previous year. Along with Ireland and Saskatchewan, the top 10 ranked jurisdictions are Sweden, Finland, Nevada, Manitoba, Wyoming, New Brunswick, Western Australia, and Northern Ireland, which was included for the first time in the 2016 survey.
The 10 least attractive jurisdictions for investment based on the PPI rankings (starting with the worst) are Venezuela, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, Mongolia, Philippines, Indonesia, Chubut, South Sudan, Mendoza, and Ecuador. Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and Chubut were all in the bottom 10 jurisdictions last year. Two out of the 10 lowest-rated jurisdictions based on policy were Argentinian provinces.
The SIMSA Cameco Round-Table Event – a Generous Success
In yet another event not often seen in business, the vast majority of a corporation’s procurement team met with their suppliers, for an open dialogue in effort to improve both sides’ businesses.
Not only were presentations made and an unprecedented networking opportunity created, Cameco also candidly answered almost all of the 32 pre-submitted, yet pointed, questions; questions submitted by SIMSA members via email and developed by SIMSA members during a luncheon two weeks prior to the event, and then anonymously submitted to Cameco.
At the event, after a pre-lunch networking session and networking lunch, SIMSA members were addressed by Cameco’s:
- Vice President Treasury, Tax, and Corporate Strategy – David Doerksen – on a market and company update
- Vice President Supply Chain Management – Dmitry Barsukov – on their supply chain status and priorities
- Director Technology Group – Noel Voykin – on site plans and priorities for this and subsequent years
- Director Operations Procurement and Supply Chain Governance – Kari Krueckl-Lamont – on the supply chain process.
Cameco executives and procurement persons present to SIMSA members.
In addition to the four presenters, Cameco also provided to the event:
- Linda Panchuk, Senior Procurement Specialist
- Anita Sharma, Senior Procurement Specialist
- Justin Smith, Procurement Specialist
- Lianne Gay, Contract Specialist
All of the Cameco persons were seated individually around the room for the lunch portion, to allow for better access prior to the presentations. After the presentations, the Cameco persons remained to answer any follow-up questions and continue the networking. As such, SIMSA members were given direct face-to-face access to persons they want to do business with.
Cameco executives and procurement persons present to SIMSA members.
Eric Anderson, SIMSA’s Executive Director, called the event “generous” and noted that “Cameco offered SIMSA the event after hearing about the PotashCorp event – SIMSA did not have to chase or even ask Cameco.”
The event was created after Cameco’s CFO – Grant Isaac – heard about the SIMSA PotashCorp Round-Table event planned for December 9th. Isaac was already scheduled to present to SIMSA members on “What I would do if I were a supplier to a commodities company” January 29th, and he quickly decided a second event was needed with SIMSA after hearing about the PotashCorp event.
Anderson went on to explain that, “Grant Isaac’s presentation was very insightful to our membership – the room was almost mesmerized by Grant’s presentation. It was invaluable on its own. And, by quickly adding a second event within only a few weeks of the first, this reflects a generous business ethic.”
SIMSA will be conducting other events with other major corporations over the next few months, as well as conducting educational events, and co-presenting the 9th Annual Saskatchewan Mining Supply Chain Forum in April.
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Download PDF version of this release HERE
About The Saskatchewan Industrial and Mining Suppliers Association (SIMSA):
SIMSA is the Saskatchewan Industrial and Mining Suppliers Association, representing Saskatchewan based companies who provide goods and services to mining, oil and gas and industrial projects. SIMSA’s membership of approximately 100 companies, represents well-over $3-billion in annual revenues with the province. SIMSA’s mandate is to represent the interests and concerns of Saskatchewan industrial equipment and service suppliers, through promotion of its members and the creation of partnerships with industry and other associations.
For more information, contact:
Eric Anderson, Executive Director
Saskatchewan Industrial and Mining Suppliers Association (SIMSA)
811 – 56th Street East
A return to optimism in mining puts Canada at a crossroads
February 16, 2017
The Canadian Mining Association
To download a copy of Facts & Figures 2016, go HERE
Action needed for Canada to capitalize on potential rebound
Cautious optimism is returning to the global mining industry, which could spur mining companies to make new and significant investments. However, a new report from the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) shows evidence of declining Canadian competitiveness and the prospect for major exploration and mining investments to flow offshore.
“Very simply, Canada is not as attractive as it used to be for mineral investment, and competition for those dollars is growing globally. The recent elimination of federal mining tax incentives, regulatory delays and uncertainty, combined with major infrastructure deficits in northern Canada are all contributing factors that can explain Canada’s declining attractiveness. The time is now to put the right policy pieces in place to better compete for those investments and regain our leadership in mining,” stated Pierre Gratton, President and CEO, MAC.
MAC’s Facts & Figures 2016 report notes several indicators that reveal that Canada is not as competitive as it once was. Foreign direct investment into Canada’s mining sector dropped by more than 50 percent year-over-year in 2015. This is disproportionate to Canadian mining direct investment abroad, which only experienced a 6 percent decline. This imbalance indicates that companies are investing in project development, but may be less interested in doing so in Canada. Canada also no longer attracts the single-largest share of total global mineral exploration spending, having conceded first place to Australia in 2015. Further, no new mining projects entered the federal environmental assessment stage in 2016. If these trends continue, there will be fewer discoveries made and fewer projects that become operational mines in Canada.
“The policy landscape in Canada is full of uncertainty as we await the outcomes of major government decisions. The federal government is reviewing federal environmental legislation, is implementing a pan-Canadian climate change policy, and is working to address long-standing transportation and infrastructure issues. These are all necessary and positive steps, but they must result in boosting Canada’s attractiveness as a place to do business. At risk is a key sector of our economy, and one that leads the world in sustainable mining practices,” stated Gratton.
MAC’s report also revealed the mining industry remained a strong contributor to the Canadian economy despite the downturn in 2015. The industry directly employed more than 370,000 people across Canada and remained the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal people on a proportional basis. An additional 190,000 worked indirectly in mining, with more than 3,700 companies supplying goods and services to the Canadian mining industry. In 2015, the mining industry accounted for $56 billion of Canada’s GDP and minerals and metals accounted for 19% of Canadian goods exports.
Policies that improve Canada’s mining competitiveness:
1) Improve the federal project review process – the process should be effective and timely, from pre-environmental assessment (EA) to post-EA permitting, with meaningful consultation with Aboriginal communities.
2) Invest in critical infrastructure in remote and northern regions – introduce strategic tax measures and ensure the new Canada Infrastructure Bank has a strong economic development focus for northern Canada.
3) Improve access to trade – ensure trade policies provide access to new and important markets, including China, and improve Canada’s transportation network to more efficiently move mineral and metal products to market.
4) Address climate change while protecting Canadian businesses – adopt policies that lead to meaningful greenhouse gas emissions while protecting emissions intensive and trade-exposed industries (EITI), like the mining industry. Failing to protect EITI sectors will result in “carbon leakage”—the shifting of production and the associated economic benefits from countries that are taking action on climate to those that are not.
5) Help expedite industry innovation – The Canada Mining Innovation Council is seeking a $50 million investment for the Towards Zero Waste Mining innovation strategy from the Government of Canada to accelerate the adoption of disruptive technologies that will support the transition to a lower carbon future.
To download a copy of Facts & Figures 2016, go HERE
The Mining Association of Canada is the national organization for the Canadian mining industry. Its members account for most of Canada’s production of base and precious metals, uranium, diamonds, metallurgical coal, mined oil sands and industrial minerals and are actively engaged in mineral exploration, mining, smelting, refining and semi-fabrication. Please visit www.mining.ca.
Canada losing ground as mining investment destination
Feb 16, 2017
Source: MAC’s Facts & Figures 2016.
While optimism is slowly but steadily returning to the global mining industry, Canada doesn’t seem to be in a good position to benefit from the increasing number of companies ready to make new and significant investments.
At least that is the conclusion from a report released Thursday by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC), which also warns of the possibility of seeing major exploration and mining investments flow offshore.
“Very simply, Canada is not as attractive as it used to be for mineral investment, and competition for those dollars is growing globally,” MAC President and CEO Pierre Gratton said.
Elimination of federal mining tax incentives, regulatory delays, uncertainty and major infrastructure deficits in northern Canada are all contributing to the country’s declining appeal.
The recent elimination of federal mining tax incentives, regulatory delays and uncertainty, combined with major infrastructure deficits in northern Canada are all contributing factors that can explain Canada’s declining attractiveness, Gratton noted.
The report also highlights the policy areas that Canada needs to pay attention to in order to seize future growth opportunities and re-gain its leadership in mining.
Some of the figures included in the report are quite telling. In 2015, foreign direct investment into Canada’s mining industry dropped by more than 50% from the previous year. In contrast, the country’s resources sector direct investment abroad only experienced a 6% decline.
According the industry body, such imbalance proves that Canada no longer attracts the single-largest share of total global mineral exploration spending, a top place it lost to Australia in 2015. Further, MAC says, no new mining projects entered the federal environmental assessment stage in 2016.
If these trends continue, the association warns, there will be fewer discoveries made and fewer projects to become operational mines in Canada.
Despite the challenges, the sector remains a key contributor to the Canadian economy, employing more than 370,000 people across the country and being the largest private sector employer of Aboriginal people on a proportional basis.
In 2015, the mining industry accounted for $56 billion of Canada’s GDP and minerals and metals accounted for 19% of Canadian goods exports.
Tepco invokes ‘Act of God’ clause on Cameco deal, but it seems more like a Hail Mary
Drew Hasselback | February 14, 2017 1:37 PM ET
Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten CommandmentsThink twice before blaming God for something that might not be God’s fault
Tokyo Electric Power’s move to pull the plug on an agreement with Canadian uranium miner Cameco Corp. is the latest example of a company arguably stretching the traditional use of a force majeure or “Act of God” clause to suspend a contract.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. argues that it has been unable to operate its nuclear power plants in Japan because of government regulations enacted after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. The accident was caused by an earthquake and resulting tsunami. Centuries of legal tradition should easily place those natural disasters within anyone’s definition of Acts of God.
You probably can’t say that for government-made regulation, though Tepco’s obvious point is there wouldn’t be regulation but for those preceding Acts of God. Maybe it is legally possible to say those natural disasters started a chain reaction of unforeseeable events, including more government regulation. It depends on the wording of the force majeure clause in the contract between Tepco and Cameco.
For now at least, Cameco won’t disclose the wording used in the clause. “It does contain provisions when force majeure and other defences can be taken advantage of, but I don’t think we’ll get into any more detail right now,” said Sean Quinn, senior vice-president and chief legal officer of Cameco, during a conference call earlier this month. “We don’t think this is a situation that falls into any of the categories that would excuse Tepco.”
A force majeure clause is supposed to absolve a party from executing on an agreement due to circumstances beyond the control of the parties.
A typical clause covers Acts of God. I am a proud alumni of the Sunday School at Zion Lutheran Church in Dashwood, Ont. Pastor Mellecke took us through quite a catalog of God’s wrath – things like floods, pestilence, storms, famines, and earthquakes. But you probably don’t need bible school training to know an Act of God when you see it. For a quick primer, watch Charlton Heston’s Moses open a few cans of biblical whoop-ass in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 classic, The Ten Commandments.
Over the years, lawyers have decided the Old Testament alone doesn’t cover enough contract risk. They’ve added several man-made events to force majeure clauses, such as labour disputes, wars, and blackouts.
Here’s the legal problem. If an event isn’t already built into a force majeur list, it can be very difficult to argue that a court or arbitrator should read it in. Commodity prices, market conditions and changes to government policy are examples of risks that can be reasonably foreseen by business people. If those risks should allow a party to cease or suspend execution of the agreement, the parties need to include them in the deal, either as part of the force majeure clause or in some other termination provision.
This doesn’t always happen.
Donald Trump, whom you might have heard of, once argued in court that he should be able to delay monthly payments on a real estate loan because the financial crisis of 2008-2009 was an “Act of God.” The case was settled out of court in 2010.
In a Canadian example, a company called Univar Canada Ltd. tried to invoke force majeure to get out of an agreement to supply Domtar Inc. with caustic soda at a fixed price. Market conditions changed and the price shot above the contract price. Univar claimed force majeure, but a B.C. judge disagreed in 2011.
For its part, Cameco has publicly said the Tepco dispute is likely more about the prices written into the contract than Acts of God or government regulation. We likely won’t know until the dispute is resolved.
The contract first requires Cameco and Tepco to engage in a 90-day “good faith” negotiation period.
According to a 2014 Supreme Court of Canada case called Bhasin v. Hrynew, “good faith” requires parties to perform their contractual obligations honestly. In other words, Cameco and Tepco can’t cross their fingers and fake their way through negotiations. And there’s little reason to expect anything less. Tepco holds a five per cent stake in Cameco’s Cigar Lake mine in Saskatchewan and has continued to contribute its share to capital costs.
If good faith talks can’t resolve the dispute, the contract calls for binding arbitration. The parties would take the dispute to a private court, where an arbitrator would interpret the contract behind closed doors. Cameco says it won a force majeure contract dispute in 2014, though confidentiality terms prevent it from providing further details.
Things do happen that make it impossible to execute on deals, but not every one of those things is an Act of God.
Cameco expected to report annual loss after markets close Thursday
ALEX MACPHERSON, SASKATOON STARPHOENIX
Published on: February 8, 2017 | Last Updated: February 8, 2017 4:27 PM CST
Cameco Corp.’s McArthur River mine in northern Saskatchewan. CAMECO CORPORATION / SASKATOON
After a year spent cutting costs in the face of soft uranium prices, which have been in freefall since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Cameco Corp. is expected to report an annual net loss after markets close on Thursday.
The Saskatoon-based company took the unusual step last month of announcing that, due to one-time costs of between $180 and $220 million, it expects to record a loss and adjusted earnings “significantly lower” than analysts’ estimates.
“You don’t like to let that disconnect continue, and for that reason we decided to provide some guidance,” Cameco spokesman Gord Struthers told the Saskatoon StarPhoenix on Jan. 17.
The “unusual non-recurring costs” are a result of the company’s decisions to shutter its Rabbit Lake mine last April, curtail its U.S. in situ recovery operations and reduce its corporate workforce by about 10 per cent, Struthers said.
“In addition, the persistent weak uranium price has required us to impair some of the assets that we own, and those show up as fairly large numbers, and for that reason … we’re going to report a loss for 2016.”
Scotia Capital Inc. analyst Orest Wowkowdaw said in a note to investors this week that market conditions led him to conclude that “the risk of a material cut to (Cameco’s) common share dividend is growing.”
At the end of November, Cameco reported net earnings of $83 million on revenues totalling $1.54 billion for the first nine months of 2016. In 2015, the company made $65 million on $2.75 billion in revenue.
Meanwhile, Cameco continues to grapple with weak uranium prices. It is in the midst of laying off about 120 staff from three northern Saskatchewan operations, and is in a dispute with a Japanese utility over a cancelled contract worth $1.3 billion.
The company, which is also embroiled in a major tax trial, maintains that prices will recover as reactor restarts in Japan and new nuclear plants under construction around the world drive up demand for its nuclear fuel.
Infographic: Where Canada sits in the global spectrum of energy development
By Darrell Stonehouse
Feb. 2, 2017, 2:38 p.m.
In Natural Resources Canada’s latest Energy Fact Book, the government department ranks Canada against other nations in the world in a number of energy industries.
This includes crude oil, natural gas, coal, uranium, renewables and electricity—based on proved reserve or capacity, production and exports in 2015.
Here’s how Canada stacks up.
Cameco to fight Tokyo Electric on cancellation of $1.3-billion contract
Published Wednesday, Feb. 01, 2017 8:33AM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 01, 2017 9:11AM EST
Canadian uranium producer Cameco Corp said on Wednesday that Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) , the operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, had scrapped its uranium supply contract with the company.
Cameco, one of the world’s largest uranium producers, said it considered Tepco’s move to terminate the contract unfair and that it would pursue legal action.
Cameco said Tepco cited a force majeure for ending the contract as it had been unable to operate its nuclear plants for 18 straight months due to Japanese regulations arising from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.
The company said it was notified of the contract termination by Tepco last week.
Tepco’s move comes amid a fall in demand for uranium that is largely a result of the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown, which led to shutdowns of all of Japan’s nuclear reactors.
Some reactors have since come back online, but global inventories of the radioactive metal remain high.
Cameco warned late last year that the uranium market would remain depressed until Japan’s nuclear reactors were restarted and excess supply was depleted.
Tepco’s termination of the contract would affect about 9.3 million pounds of uranium deliveries through 2028, worth about $1.3-billion in revenue to Cameco, the Saskatoon, Canada-based company said.
Cameco also said it expected 2017 revenue of $2.1-billion to $2.2-billion, inclusive of Tepco’s volume, adding that it could withstand any potential loss of revenue this year from the dispute.
Time to step up: resource sectors need Canada’s media more than ever
- Published on January 28, 2017
- President & CEO at JuneWarren-Nickle’s Energy Group
[Download the report HERE]
In this age of thought-leadership reports and white paper discussions that flutter around our lives like so much wedding confetti, there’s one document out there that deserves immediate attention – particularly in Canada’s resource sectors.
For those sectors read: energy, mining, forestry and agriculture – the industries that are the supporting vertebrae of Canada’s economic backbone.
The sectors everybody increasingly seems to want to despise.
Every senior management team and board of directors in companies that derive their livelihoods from those various sectors should make this particular report required strategic reading. It will give them profound insights into what happens when a business model collapses dramatically in a way that directly impacts their own businesses, especially in terms of public perception.
And it may guide them to proactively support the policy pushes necessary to bring back Canada’s media sector from the brink of extinction.
Entitled The Shattered Mirror, [Download the report HERE] it’s the product of research and consultation by the Public Policy Forum. It critically examines the state of Canadian media. The prognosis isn’t good. It paints a troubling picture of the diminished role Canadian media plays in mediating and shaping the discourses and narratives that define socioeconomic and political conversations. Commissioned by Heritage Canada, The Shattered Mirroris more than a casual query into how digital forces are battering a largely analogue sector. It probes deeply into the costs our democracy and civil society face when institutions like newspapers are abandoned in droves.
Unfortunately, most resource executives are predisposed to crap on media. And I mean crap, in every smelly and repugnant sense of the word. There’s no way to put it elegantly.
Indeed, “media” has been largely indicted by those same leaders for being part of, if not entirely responsible for, the poor public image resource sector executives and managers argue plague their respective industries.
What the resource sector “C-Suite” doesn’t get is that it has been in some measure responsible, even if unwittingly so, for silencing of the very voices whose now-diminished importance resulted in such horrible conditions of public perception. Each resource sector languishes under the burden of its own special version of “social licence…”
The mainstream media is partially to blame for its own problems, of course, but it’s challenging to do “the job” when your business can barely keep its head above water. In recent times, you would think resource companies would be more emphatic.
What those resource companies and media organizations share is a common burden: being considered increasingly irrelevant by a society which generally has no clue as to how relevant the products are to our daily lives.
But at a time when resource players should have been embracing media, they instead chose (largely) to adopt adversarial relations, thinking they could bypass reporters and editorial boards. In short, they thought they could become content creators themselves. What was missing is the ability to set trusted context.
There’s no free ride for context – and that’s what separates mere “content” from quality journalism.
It’s media context-setting that defines a progressive society’s means of processing issues of major importance. Those debates are not always pretty, of course, and they sometimes cause hurt feelings. But in most cases, they advance substantive issues to some form of resolution.
Put bluntly, Facebook does not give a rat’s ass about Canada’s oilsands industry, by way of one example. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, in that Facebook provides a curation-free platform for the voices which shout in opposition to energy development (or farming, or logging, or mining) with no burden of actually proving the merits (or facts) of their perspectives.
No judgment. No context. No facts.
Fake news was around long before Donald Trump made it a thing – and it was hitting hard at the country’s resource bases.
It’s a good bet that the editorial team at the Calgary Herald cares about oilsands development, though, because it cares about the way society works.
That doesn’t mean the sector is guaranteed a free ride in terms of fawning features. Constructive and consistent coverage and analysis makes companies and sectors better. If the Herald staff today what it was five years ago, the “coverage” would be more balanced, more deeply contextualized and more subtly nuanced. And we would have a better oilsands sector for it.
But every cancelled subscription and un-bought advertisement hobbles The Herald’s ability to be doing what it ought to: curating, coordinating and yes, even mediating.
But there’s another, more insidious, problem: strong (not social) media makes for a more literate public. And at a time when Joe Average Citizen needs to be learning about Canada’s resource challenges, the teacher is phoning in sick and there’s no substitute available.
There’s another millennial twist worth noting: too many resource companies fell over themselves establishing social media strategies at the behest of millennial communicators who promised that tweets and Facebook postings would bring Canadians around. In many cases, just the opposite happened. Corporate social media efforts were met with the opprobrium of a vocal few. In other words, what corporate (resource) Canada didn’t get is that when it comes to discussing something rationally social media is largely just a bullhorn for banality and bullshit. The problem is that people tend to believe social media because they distrust they way resource sector companies communicate.
Canada’s resource sectors are now firmly behind the eight ball in terms of public opinion. And the very media institutions that might have helped them turn the corner in public opinion are on life support.
Here’s betting the resource bosses are longing for the good old days when a reporter with a notepad showed up. That’s a lot simpler than dealing with the flow of Twitter dreck that seems to hypnotize the average Canadian the same way a rabbit hypnotizes a snake – before it gobbles the hapless creature whole.
As Joni Mitchell once crooned in Big Yellow Taxi, “…you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.”
- 20 Jan 2017
- Saskatoon StarPhoenix
- SUNNY FREEMAN Financial Post
Cameco bullish on uranium demand
But market still oversupplied
Facing this consensus view that exceeded our maintained core guidance and our disclosed other costs … we faced some choices.
Cameco Corp. is more optimistic about long-term demand for uranium than it has been for five years, a top executive said Thursday after the company’s stock price tumbled following an unusual warning it was too bullish on its 2016 performance.
The Saskatoon-based uranium miner took an extraordinary step Tuesday by issuing an announcement that analysts’ estimates for the company’s full-year results were too high. It said it expected to report a 2016 loss Feb. 9. The company’s share price lost about 10 per cent of its value on Wednesday, but recovered on Thursday, closing at $15.85, up 10.15 per cent on the day, on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Grant Isaac, Cameco’s chief financial officer, told the TD Securities Mining Conference in Toronto that the company felt compelled to “correct what we felt was a misalignment in earnings expectations,” noting that restructuring costs from shuttered operations and legal costs associated with a tax dispute will weigh on its 2016 balance sheet.
“So, facing this consensus view that exceeded our maintained core guidance and our disclosed other costs … we faced some choices,” Isaac told the analysts’ conference, adding the company wanted to be transparent with the investment community.
“We were not going to sit with the investment community and discuss our positive forward outlook on the uranium market, remain silent on the misaligned earnings expectations and then fly back to Saskatoon and put out an earnings announcement that didn’t meet the Street.”
Cameco’s shares have risen some 50 per cent in the past three months as analysts foresaw the supply-demand economics tip into better balance — and even undersupply in the medium-term — amid renewed interest in the sector driven by production cutbacks and the potential for global nuclear energy growth. But even after recent production cuts, the market is still oversupplied and utilities will be covered until about 2022 when demand increases to the point it cannot be satisfied by existing supply, Isaac said.
The market has been oversupplied since demand dropped following the Fukushima nuclear accident of 2011, while Kazakhstan continued to raise output to maintain market dominance, causing further weakness in uranium prices. He believes customers are taking a “wait-and-see” approach as to whether Kazakhstan, the world’s top uranium producer, follows through on last week’s announcement that it will cut output by 10 per cent due to weak market conditions, sending uranium spot prices 10 per cent higher to around US$25 a pound the day after.
Some of Cameco’s customers have suggested they want to terminate current contracts negotiated when uranium prices were higher — as they are paying more than the spot price.
Cameco has two approaches on that front: For customers it believes hold a future potential, it is open to discussions about blending or extending the contract, while for those considered to be of little future value, it is willing to fight to keep the contracts in place.
TD analyst Greg Barnes said he realizes that he and many analysts did not model correctly for the one-time cost impacts in 2016, but he was taken by surprise that the company said it didn’t see the utilities markets responding to the Kazakh announcement.
“That is a positive development, it recognizes that we are in a uranium price that is not supportive of uranium production,” he said. “But ultimately what we haven’t seen is a real buy-in from fuel buyers … they don’t yet believe the Kazakhs.”