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UPDATE 2-Russia nuclear chief sees uranium price rise in '09
March 6, 2009 / 2:17 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-Russia nuclear chief sees uranium price rise in '09

* Rosatom sees spot prices rising in 2009, but slowly

* Kiriyenko says speculators dumped uranium in crisis

* Sees speculative impact declining, demand stable

(Adds details, quotes, background)

By Katya Golubkova

MOSCOW, March 6 (Reuters) - Russian nuclear chief Sergei Kiriyenko, who presides over one of the biggest players on the world atomic market, forecast that spot uranium prices would increase slowly in 2009.

“The uranium price will rise, but slowly... this year,” Kiriyenko told reporters on Friday.

Prices for the nuclear fuel UX-U3O8-SPT have collapsed to about $43.75 per lb from a record of $136 in June 2007, according to prices from Ux Consulting (UxC), a leading publisher of uranium prices.

Kiriyenko said speculators -- rather than consumers -- had helped drive up uranium prices and then dumped the metal during the financial crisis.

“On top of a rush for uranium, there were speculators who really drove up the prices ... So uranium rose higher than its proper price and then tumbled too far, to below its proper price,” he said. “The fall in prices has been far too sharp.”

Kiriyenko heads the Rosatom state nuclear corporation, which controls Atomenergoprom, one of the world’s biggest players on the nuclear market with operations ranging from uranium mines and fuel enrichment to atomic power stations.

Rosatom said this month it would form a joint venture with German industrial conglomerate Siemens (SIEGn.DE)in what Kiriyenko said was a step towards a fully fledged partnership that would create a serious alliance on the world market.

Australia has the world’s largest known recoverable resources of uranium, controlling about 23 percent, according to the World Nuclear Association (www.world-nuclear.org), followed by Kazakhstan with 15 percent and Russia with 10 percent.

Kiriyenko said a large number of speculators had already sold their uranium.

“I think the major part have already dumped their uranium and the rest will do so in the near future,” he said.

“In atomic energy, it is actually hard to swiftly boost or cut volumes of consumption. Current stations are working and new ones have not yet been built so stable demand will be ensured and pressure from speculators will gradually decline.”

“In our view this will lead to a calm rise in prices with sharp movements. I think this growing trend will start this year,” he added. (Writing by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Anthony Barker)

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