PERTH (Reuters) - Japan’s nuclear crisis will make the nuclear-power industry safer and stronger, rather than knock it off course, Australian uranium miner Paladin Energy said on Wednesday.
Paladin, which has two uranium mines in Africa, said the industry’s outlook remained strong despite the shorter term impact of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors, which were smashed by an earthquake and tsunami in March.
“The uranium supply sector and nuclear industry generally is still suffering some bruising effect from this event,” Paladin Energy managing director and chief executive John Borshoff told an Africa mining conference in Perth, Australia.
“Yet while on the surface that appears as a negative, six months later the outlook for uranium production and sales is strong - and will remain so in the future.”
Since the crisis unfolded on March 11, uranium prices have tumbled by more than a fifth to around $51.50 a pound.
Borshoff said the industry will likely become safer.
“In reaction to Fukushima, nuclear countries have stress tested their reactors, and outside of Germany, Italy and France, all emerging nuclear economies have reaffirmed their commitment,” he said.
“Growth will resume with only a small drop in demand in the short-term due to the impact of this event.”
Paladin expects its uranium mines in Namibia and Malawi to reach full capacity in the first quarter of calendar 2012.
It owns all of Namibia’s Langer Heinrich mine and 85 percent of Malawi’s Kayelekera mine. The company also owns a uranium mine in Niger.
Paladin has invested nearly $650 million in the Kayelekera and Langer Heinrich mines, the company said.
“We are at a point we now have a nameplate capacity of about 8.5 million pounds of uranium per year with the possibility to grow that further by spending another $400 million to $500 million in Africa to take this output to about 14 million pounds,” Borshoff said of the two mines.
Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; Editing by Mark Bendeich