Uranium stockpiler to list on AIM
Millions of pounds of uranium are being accumulated on behalf of investors who eventually hope to sell the radioactive metal at a profit. In a trend similar to exchange-traded funds for commodities like gold and silver, Nufcor Uranium Plc will list on London’s Aim market on Friday with about 2 million pounds of uranium held on behalf of its shareholders.
Nufcor, a Guernsey-registered company has sold 33 million shares at â‚¤2.05, giving it a market value of â‚¤67.7 million.
Nufcor’s offering is similar to Toronto-listed Uranium Participation Corporation (UPC), which holds about 4 million pounds of uranium on behalf of its investors. In May Mineweb reported that uranium spot prices had hopped 20% in two weeks after UPC raised CDN$90 million to buy about 1.85 million pounds of the metal.
But Nufcor CEO Charles Scorer says he doesn’t expect a uranium price jump with his offering. ”When they (UPC) came out they raised the money first and then purchased the uranium.”
The 2 million pounds of uranium has already been accumulated by Nufcor International, a nuclear fuels trading company that will retain about 10% of Nufcor Uranium, says Scorer. Nufcor International will sell the uranium to Nufcor Uranium at market prices, he says.
Scorer declined to divulge details on Nufcor’s administrative and other costs or its major shareholders before the company floats on Friday.
Investment products like Nufcor’s could be the first step towards developing the financial market for uranium. Scorer says that about 90% of uranium sales take place between miners and end users with no forward market in existence. ”There is no financial sophistication,” says Scorer ”It’s very much a physical market.”
Scorer says the industry is fairly contained with fewer than 450 nuclear reactors and just a handful of uranium producers. However, he believes there is potential for the market to develop along the lines of other commodities.
For example, investment demand for gold has been so strong that gold exchange-traded funds have become an important variable in the price of the precious metal. This is unlikely to happen with uranium just yet, says Scorer, as annual demand is many times greater than investment stockpiles.
Uranium held by investors must be stored in a secure location to prevent it falling into the wrong hands. Scorer says that Nufcor’s uranium is held at processors. The three main western processors are in France, Canada and USA, he says. The International Atomic Energy Agency regulates processing facilities and security is tight.
One of the qualities of uranium, says Scorer, is its energy density. ”The amount of storage you need is infinitesimal,” he notes. ”Storage volume will never be an issue.”