Join us in this fascinating interview with Justin Huhn, Founder & Publisher at Uranium Insider, as we explore the uranium market’s potential for explosive growth. With prices soaring over 50% this year, we delve into the factors driving this surge and the future prospects heading into 2024.
Hosted by Jimmy Connor, this session provides critical insights into the uranium sector, which is vital for investors interested in commodities and wealth-building.
This comprehensive discussion offers valuable insights into the dynamic uranium market, highlighting significant factors and future trends relevant for investors. Stay informed with Wealthion for more on wealth-building strategies in the evolving economic landscape.
Justin Huhn 0:00
We have a major supply deficit right now and an extremely thin market, it’s not going to take a lot of buying pressure to move the price higher. And that buying pressure is absolutely guaranteed. We know how much the utilities have to buy in the next five years. And that doesn’t even account for any secondary demand that’s going to come from financials and they’re all setting up to squeeze. It’s a very exciting setup here for the price of uranium.
Jimmy Connor 0:26
Hi, and welcome to Wealthion. I’m James Connor, and I’m with Bloor Street Capital. And we have a YouTube channel of the same name, which is focused on resources and how they can benefit your portfolio. One of the resources we are focusing on today is uranium, the fuel used for nuclear reactors. And 2023 has been a challenging year for many commodities, but not uranium. It’s up over 50% of the year, and it’s poised to go significantly higher. What’s driving the demand for uranium? And where will the price go in 2024. Our guest today is Justin Huhn, of the uranium Insider, and He will help us answer these questions. Justin, thank you very much for joining us today.
Justin Huhn 1:05
I’m happy to be here. Yeah. Good to see you again.
Jimmy Connor 1:09
Justin, before we do a deep dive on uranium, why don’t you give us a little bit of backstory on how you got involved in this sector. And also tell us about the uranium Insider.
Justin Huhn 1:21
Sure, I first got involved in this sector after being introduced to the thesis in 2016. Pretty close to the actual bottom for spot uranium, which was about $18 a pound in December 2016. And was very intrigued at the contrarian investment thesis and the opportunity back then absolutely nobody wanted to hear about uranium. It was a dead sector, nuclear was dead. And nobody thought nuclear would come back anywhere, even remotely close to the way that it has. And I still pinch myself almost on a daily basis to see some of these headlines about nuclear resurgence. It’s truly remarkable. But yeah, it went from, you know, just an absolutely terrible sector to just bad over the course of you know, 2017 1819. And finally, you know, into the the COVID lows, and recovery for the commodity in the commodities bottomed $80 A pound now we’re here at $81 a pound, I have to correct you, it’s actually up almost 70%. This year, it was in the high 40s At the end of last year, and now we’re here at $81. And the move since the summer time has been astonishing. It’s moved much more than anybody thought it would. Or most people I should say there’s a few uranium market analysts that have been in the sector for as long as I’ve been alive in the planet that were calling for this type of price rise, and they were correct. But here we are with a full on nuclear renaissance, on a global basis. It’s phenomenal. Finally, multiple countries around the world are recognizing that baseload energy is important. Clean, baseload is even more important. And nuclear is one of the only things that we have at our disposal the to get us out of sort of a potential climate situation and have energy security. So I’m happy to see that I’m a nuclear advocate, regardless of the investment case for uranium. And the miners are still relatively cheap here. I mean, we’re certainly certainly not in the first inning of this investment thesis. But I think we’re very long ways away from kind of the speculative peak. And we’ve got many years ahead of us of robust demand without any real supply, let’s say fixes in the works. There’s just not enough supply to come online in the next five years to stop what I believe is going to be a major continuous run in the price and the upward price movement for uranium.
Jimmy Connor 3:42
And you mentioned that the price of uranium is trading at $81 a pound, where was it in 2016 2017. When you got involved,
Justin Huhn 3:49
It bottomed in December 26 to $18 a pound. And it was kind of a slow recovery from there, it spent maybe about three years from that point, before it knocked on the door of $30 a pound. And we had just kind of higher highs and higher lows since then. And now we’re getting into what looks like a bit of a hockey stick type move. We might see some backing and filling here and there. But the supply is just so incredibly tight. We can get into the details of why that is if you’d like and but yeah, it’s it’s been a series of higher highs, higher lows, it’s very, very obviously clear that the commodity itself is in in a robust bull market. The equities are looking good. We’ve got major kind of long term cup and handle type patterns here. I’m we’re looking for a big breakout in the equities.
Jimmy Connor 4:36
So as you mentioned, we have a we’ve had a massive move here in the last few years. And so I want to start with a top down approach to build the framework for why it’s moved the way it has. And why don’t we just start with the nuclear reactors because that’s what’s burning or that’s what’s using all this uranium. How many nuclear reactors are there currently in the world?
Justin Huhn 4:58
I don’t have the number off the top my had I think it’s something around 450. But it’s somewhere in that ballpark. And the global nuclear fleet consumes about 180 million pounds of uranium per year.
Jimmy Connor 5:12
And so there’s 450 nuclear reactors approximately, and in has that number changed in the last few years. And if you look out five or 10 years, what’s going to happen to that numbers are going to grow or stay the same?
Justin Huhn 5:25
Sure. So yeah, I was close, there’s 436, it hasn’t risen that much, because we’ve had a number of shutdowns, at the same time that reactors are coming online. But the total global capacity for power generation by nuclear reactors has risen because the new reactors coming online are much larger than the old reactors that are already being shut down. In some cases, these are 1400 megawatt reactors, we’re seeing reactors that are shut down to 678 100 megawatts. So these are very, very large reactors that are coming online. under construction right now is over 60 reactors, 25 of those roughly are in China alone. So there’s a major build out plan. In fact, the industry expects that the growth of the industry should see about three to 4% compound annual growth rate from here on out through the end of the next decade, which is an incredible growth rate for an industry like this.
Jimmy Connor 6:22
And you touched on China, I’m sorry, how many nuclear reactors are being built in China?
Justin Huhn 6:27
I believe it’s something like 28. I can double check in the background here as we’re speaking, but yeah, it’s it’s huge. China has let’s see, under construction right now, they have 26, under construction 55, operable, so they have 53 gigawatts under operation. And they’re looking to have 150 gigawatts by 2035. So they’re looking to basically triple their fleet in the next 12 years, and they’re on pace to do it, they need to, they need to basically have eight to 10 reactors hit the grid per year for the next decade. And they’re from all perspectives, they look to be on pace to reach that goal. So, you know, 150 gigawatts, let’s see, 150 gigawatts is going to be about 70 million pounds of uranium per year of annual demand from China alone in about the next decade. So that’s that’s an enormous amount of uranium right now, that’s about half of the world’s annual production, currently, this year, will be consumed by China in just 10 years. So they’re going to outpace the United States in terms of their nuclear capacity relatively quickly, by the end of the decade, they’ll be bigger than United States in terms of nuclear capacity.
Jimmy Connor 7:37
So there’s a lot of growth going on in with nuclear reactors, and that’s going to require a lot of uranium, I just want to go through these numbers, again, how many pounds are currently being consumed annually.
Justin Huhn 7:49
Currently in the reactor burn up alone, so we’re not talking about inventory, restocking or anything like that, or secondary demand coming from hedge funds or the Sprott physical uranium trust, whatever it might be, I’m just reactor burn up is somewhere in the ballpark of 180 million pounds. That number is a little bit tricky, because you have to plug in a tails assumption with enrichment. I don’t know how far you want to get into the weeds with that. But that’s an important part of that calculation. So if you assume a relatively low tails for enrichment, you’re looking at about 180 million pounds a year. And that’s for this year. And that’s going to grow pretty quickly, not only because the size of the reactor fleet globally is growing pretty quickly, but also because the tails assay assumptions for not only just transactional, tails, tails assumptions, but operational tails for the Western enrichers are rising pretty precipitously, year over year. What I mean is enrichment contracts for the later part of the decade have much higher tails, much higher uranium demand to feed into those contracts. So all things being equal the same amount of nuclear capacity, you just tweak that one number, enrichment tails rise, they need more uranium to operate that same amount of nuclear capacity. So we’re looking at probably pushing, you know, 190 to 200 million pounds, just next year, we’re probably breaching 200 million by 2025. If you’re looking at both inventory, restocking and enrichment tails, and it very well likely could be higher than that.
Jimmy Connor 9:11
And so and then how many pounds are being produced.
Justin Huhn 9:15
This year, we’ll hit somewhere in the ballpark of 150 million pounds of primary production, we’ll have a little bit of secondary secondary supply coming from an enrichment under feeding, that will mostly be coming from Russia. So most of those pounds will actually stay in the East. And that matters, because we do have effectively a bifurcated market here. 70% of the world’s nuclear capacity and therefore uranium demand exists in the West, then, you know, kind of the OECD countries, and Russia has most of that conversion and enrichment. So you have about 150 million mined supply, let’s say 15 million in secondary supply. So all in all, 165 million roughly, and that primary demand of 180 million from reactors that doesn’t include inventory, restocking or secondary demand for financial. So even even with the primary demand coming from reactors, we’re probably still pushing 200 million pounds of total demand. If you’re looking at inventory, restocking and secondary demand for 2023. So we’re still 30 to 50, depending on your calculations, million pounds short in supply in a single year for 2023.
Jimmy Connor 10:19
And that’s, that’s an interesting point is the market always operate at a deficit?
Justin Huhn 10:26
Unknown hasn’t. Uranium swings pretty wildly, and it has historically. And part of the reason is that there have historically been very large swings in secondary supply and secondary demand. And of course, the extremely slow pace for supply to respond to price. This is not something this is not oil. While youth relate is technically fungible, it does have it does trace origin across the fuel cycle. So and it’s very, very slow to come online, you just have a radioactive material. It’s there’s a lot of bureaucratic red tape, even in the best jurisdictions, even in Kazakhstan, where they can produce and ramp production quicker than anybody, they still have their own bureaucracies that go through and can’t just snap their fingers and turn on the taps. So even when you have a price, $81 a pound here. Theoretically, there’s a lot of projects globally that could be, you know, profitable here. But it doesn’t mean that we’re going to see those pounds being produced next year. We’ve gotten Namibian projects, low grade uranium, relatively speaking that have you know, three to 567 100 million market cap development costs and CAPEX to get those pounds out of the ground. It’s like, okay, well, they did definitive feasibility studies over the past few years showing they needed $65 uranium, here we are at one, are we seeing those pounds? No. And we’re not going to see those pounds for three, four or five years. And that’s just the way it goes. And that’s the way it’s always gone. So we had, you know, a big oversupply in the previous decade, and that primarily came from demand destruction. Following the Fukushima Daiichi accident 2011, Japan shut off all of their reactors, 54 reactors, there’s 10% of the world’s demand overnight offline. I mean, overnight took about 12 months to shut them all down, but you get the idea. So that demand destruction caused a lot of oversupply to come into the market and the Kazakhs continued to ramp production in a major way they peak production in 2016. They were 100% stayed out at the time, still had a large influence from Russia, which we believe they still do. And so they were just ramping production flooding the market with production. And they also had a currency plan of rapidly depreciating Kazakh Tanguay selling in US dollars. So we had a lot of above ground inventory, hundreds of millions of pounds of above ground mobile inventory. And the producers all declined in production, eventually, towards the end of the decade, a lot of the explorers, I mean, the sector got absolutely crushed, to the point where one of the primary producers Cameco, had to actually put one of their largest mines in care and maintenance. And they did that in 2018, with MacArthur river that was offline for almost five years. So we’ve gone through these big swings of a lot of oversupply that just destroyed the market in previous decades to now bring to today, there is basically very little, if any, above ground Mobile Inventory just sitting in the can for sale, it’s so thin that we’re seeing very, very small amounts being purchased and traded in the spot market. And we’re seeing multiple dollar moves. This is this is new, we have never seen a market this thing. And I’m not just saying since I’ve been watching the market in 2017. You know, for the past six years, I’m talking to industry analysts that have been in the sector for 3040 years, they have never, ever seen what we’re seeing right now. And the previous bull market, we never actually even had a supply deficit, we have a major supply deficit right now and an extremely thin market, it’s not going to take a lot of buying pressure to move the price higher. And that buying pressure is absolutely guaranteed. We know how much the utilities have to buy in the next five years. And that doesn’t even account for any secondary demand that’s going to come from financials and they’re all setting up to squeeze. It’s a very exciting setup here for the price of uranium.
Jimmy Connor 14:11
So I just want to unpack some of the things that you just said. First of all, you mentioned the country of Kazakhstan. You also mentioned Canada, why don’t we look at the top producers because as we know when it comes to mining jurisdiction is everything. Who are the top five uranium producers in the world in terms of countries.
Justin Huhn 14:28
Kazakhstan is number one, and that’s pretty much by far I believe Canada is number two. Australia number three, I might have these out of order but it’s Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia, Namibia. Number five, currently, it’s possibly Uzbekistan. So but that’s pretty much where most of the uranium almost half of the uranium comes out of Kazakhstan. 43% in 2022, came out of Kazakhstan and they’re going to increase production. I don’t think They are going to come remotely close to their targets for various reasons. But they will be increasing their production somewhat, it’s not going to provide much relief to the market because of where their uranium is being sold to primarily. So the French have a big joint venture that they’re bringing online, the Russians have big joint venture that’s going to be most of the production increase out of Kazakhstan is those two projects. And then kazatomprom themselves, which is about half of the production out of Kazakhstan a little bit more, they’re selling more and more of their own production into China. And so that’s most of the production increase out of Kazakhstan is going there. Canada, they’re doing what they can to increase production projects coming online, their new projects are much, much slower than Kazakhstan, because they’re typically in the Athabasca basin, these are underground projects, Denison is actually experimenting, and seemingly has proven out ISR feasibility in Athabasca basin, which is quite exciting. But that still is multiple years away from producing. And then of course, next gens arrow is a monster. And that’s a big underground mine, that’s gonna take a while to develop. But those two projects should provide some relief, late decade at that point, who knows where the demand will be.
Jimmy Connor 16:09
So you mentioned has extended controls are produces 43% of the world’s uranium production, it borders on China, and also Russia, do they sell all of their uranium to those two countries or not
Justin Huhn 16:24
all of it, but a lot of it, cat because Adam promise specifically has sold a pretty decent amount of their production to the west, historically speaking so to the United States to Canada, into the EU, but increasingly more and more so more than half of their production because Adam prom, specifically, has been sold to China, just this last year, and that’s going to be increasing. Now, because out of prom also has a number of joint ventures and the largest joint venture partner they have is Russia, they have a couple of joint ventures with the Japanese a couple with the French, a small handful with China as well. And so through these joint ventures, those various partners will sell through long term contracts to various other players in the sector. So the French Rondo specifically will have long term contracts that they will sell to various consumers around the world, it doesn’t necessarily go to one specific source that more and more of the Pounds coming out of this country, regardless of whether it’s because out of prom, specifically or joint venture, operating, and because our prom will be sold into the east, and a lot of that has to do with just the ease of shipping, it’s become more and more difficult to ship. And one of the reasons why is the primary shipping route to the west out of Kazakhstan is it has kind of Northwest via rail to the port of St Petersburg, and then out of their ships by sea. Now, there’s been a lot of problems shipping out of Russia to the west, as you can imagine. And they’ve tried to establish a western route through the Caspian and the Black Seas going through Azerbaijan and Georgia, etc. And that’s been problematic. They have successfully done it, we understand that the cost of doing so is something to the tune of 20x. Shipping through the port of St. Petersburg. So it’s not exactly easy, yet, they can just send it east via rail to China, no problems whatsoever. And that’s what’s happening. And that’s what’s going to continue to happen our opinion.
Jimmy Connor 18:18
So you mentioned that kizad a problem or Kazakhstan has a JV with the Russians. And maybe you can just expand on that a little bit because one of the catalysts that really got uranium going in 2022 was when Russia invaded Ukraine. And maybe you can give us a little bit of backstory on why that really started to move the price of uranium.
Justin Huhn 18:41
Sure, well, Russia is the largest player in the world in both conversion and enrichment. So I’m sure your listeners are probably already decently aware of it. If not, you can’t just mined uranium out of the ground and put it into a reactor. So the mined uranium, which is uranium oxide, you three Wait, that’s yellowcake that’s known as yellowcake and so that that has to be converted into a gas form. That’s conversion, that’s a fuel cycle service. And the product of that is uranium hexafluoride or UF six, that then can be enriched in centrifuges. That’s the enrichment process that’s also fuel cycle service. And all of these elements of the fuel cycle have have price elements to them, not only to the service, but also the product. So you’ve got a uranium market a conversion market, you have six market and enrichment market in EU P enriched uranium product market, and then of course, a fabricated fuel market. And all of these elements have to happen before that fabricated fuel can go into a reactor. Now, there is a heavy water reactor known as the Candu reactor, all of Canada’s reactors are CANDU reactors, and there’s some in the rest of the world as well. India is building candies. There’s a couple of others in various countries, those can actually run on natural uranium. So in their their amazing, you know, pieces of engineering and I don’t see why we’re not building more of that. But that’s only about 10% of the world’s fleet. So for the most part, most reactors need this fuel cycle process to get fabricated fuel to operate. That’s process takes about two years, that can happen faster. If it’s mined uranium iosr, in Kazakhstan, and then it’s processed in Russia, right? That happens faster. The underground mine, that gets converted in Canada and then enriched in the EU, in that whole process can take much longer, right. So about two years on average, and Russia has about, let’s see, I think it’s in the high 30th percentile of global enrichment capacity, and the low 30th percent percentile global conversion capacity. So what happened when Russia invaded Ukraine is most of the world’s nuclear utilities, especially in the West, because they were concerned about the market eventually bifurcating as they secured as much conversion, Western conversion and enrichment as they could. Because most of the demand is in the West, the market pricing of the services essentially is dictated by the Western demand of those services. So we saw major jumps and conversion, major jumps and enrichment. And that it’s not only because Russia is the largest contributor to those two services, it’s also because those two services are closer to the end product that the utilities need. So if you see some sort of supply constrained potential in the market, you’re going to try to secure the closest thing to the end of that cycle as you can for your own secure security of operations. And that would be enrichment. And so the utilities went after conversion and enrichment to a major extent in 2022, we saw the prices skyrocket for both of those services. So swirl, which is separative work unit, or the cost of enrichment, that basically doubled, conversion essentially doubled in the price of E up and U F six, the products or the services went up handily as well. Now what we’re seeing, and we expected this as well, and you can go back and listen to interviews I did with you and others 2022. Once you secure that farther end of the fuel cycle, then you get your uranium because there’s no reason there’s no reason to own uranium and not have conversion enrichment secured, because then you’re just sitting with yellowcake in a can and you can’t do anything with it, you have to make sure you secure it secure those services to pull the uranium through it to get your fuel. Once they secure that then they come after uranium. That’s exactly what we’re seeing right now. And the pressure in the market has come down to the uranium market. Finally, that is definitely here.
Jimmy Connor 22:27
Okay, so let’s unpack a few things there. First of all, Russia is very important, not so much of the production of uranium. But when it comes to processing it. Conversion and enrichment in the US is a big is a big buyer of those, not just the US but a lot of Western nations that have nuclear reactors. So why don’t we talk about that? First of all, there’s been a number of sanctions placed on Russia for whatever, various goods and services, if any sanctions been placed on anything to do with uranium or enrichment or conversion services?
Justin Huhn 23:03
Nope. Not to my understanding. There’s been essentially voluntary, voluntary self sanction by the nuclear utilities. And they’re already in the United States exists. The Russia suspension agreement, which limits the amount of uranium and uranium products that can be purchased from Russia by United States utilities. Think it’s about 25% is kind of the maximum allotment. Now the US utilities buy a lot from Russia friendly countries like Kazakhstan. But yeah, it’s already somewhat limited in the United States. But there aren’t there haven’t been any official sanctioning from the United States, or are most of the western countries to my understanding. And the
Jimmy Connor 23:38
reason is because Western Europe and also the US, is beholden to Russia for the services, they need them to operate these nuclear reactors. 100%. So given the US is the largest economy in the world, we should probably talk about the US and in what what percent of the electricity grid comes from nuclear
Justin Huhn 23:59
energy. In the United States, it’s about 20% 20%.
Jimmy Connor 24:04
So how many pounds of uranium with the US consumed annually.
Justin Huhn 24:08
The US consumes about 45 million pounds of uranium per year. But 25% of global demand comes from the US.
Jimmy Connor 24:16
So very meaningful. And so when when I hear you talk about Kazakhstan and Russia and China, I can’t help but think about the geopolitical risk and the jurisdictional risk associated with with operating nuclear reactors, but also securing this supply of uranium right. And it reminds me very much what happened during the 1970s. And with the oil embargo, right, the US and other countries were beholden to the Middle East to supply or secure their oil. And then all of a sudden, this oil and Bardot got put on the price on oil and the price of oil went from $3 a barrel up to 11 in a very short period of time. Doesn’t sound like much but that’s close to 300% Do you ever envision a scenario where this similar thing could happen with uranium?
Justin Huhn 25:06
I mean, we’re we’re approaching, we’re approaching a situation here. And I never really thought that I would be saying this. But it has played out in such a way that I think that this is possible where within the next few years, we could very well see a situation where a utility does not get the uranium that they need. This is why inventories exist. This is I don’t believe we will see a situation where a nuclear power plant will cease to be able to operate. Because I think that there are other levels that levers that can be pulled, it’s possible that there can be borrowing, there can be swapping, there can be lending, and things like that, that I think that will solve that particular problem. But there very well could be a contract RFP that just does not get filled period, it’s possible that a delivery will not be able to be made. And we’ll have seen force measure on some sort of contract of supply. These are entirely possible. That’s that’s just how tight things are.
Jimmy Connor 26:08
And you mentioned that the US consumes 50 million pounds of uranium annually due to the US producing any uranium
Justin Huhn 26:15
It’s negligible at this point. The US at one point in the 1980s was the largest producer of uranium in the world. I don’t remember how much I think we produced there was something I think in the in the 30 million pound a year range and possibly even higher. I think, for 2023, we might see if we’re lucky, we’ll see less, you know, 500,000 pounds of uranium produced and about 45 million consumed. There’s a few players in the US that are moving towards production on for energy, you are energy, Uranium Energy Corp Peninsula, there’s a couple of others that are moving towards production energy fields, potentially, where we could actually see energy fields actually can produce relatively quickly with ISR. But they’re they’re dry, they’re dry mines and their uranium mill has yet to be that circuit is yet to be turned on. We expect that will be turned on next year, probably. But either way, with enough effort and a sticky higher uranium price, we should see a few million pounds a year produced by the United States with a lot of effort. Maybe in five plus years, we could see, you know, six, 8 million pounds a year produced. I don’t think we’re ever going to produce the amount of uranium that we consume per year we have it there was a USGS study done in the 1990s that showed that there was potentially a billion pounds of uranium in the Arizona Strip that’s in northern Arizona, it’s there it’s in the ground, will it ever be mined? Probably not. But we do have in the ground. And at the very least we can diversify, where we’re buying from instead of being highly concentrated to Kazakhstan and Russia, we can buy some more from, from our partners or, you know, our allies, we should say, of Canada and Australia. And we already do. And that’s already happening. We’re already seeing utilities spread out their risk in terms of making sure that they can receive the material they need just in case something happens. And a lot of that voluntary. Self sanctioning that the utilities have done by avoiding new business with Russia or Russia’s partners simply has to do with a concern that may be between now and when those deliveries should be coming in. The situation could worsen, and they could actually physically not be able to receive that material. And that’s a real concern for North American utilities. And then they’ve diversified that risk and have started to reach out even to development projects and other jurisdictions and trying to secure contracts with these projects. So we’re starting to see that diversity happen. And that’s a good thing for the industry.
Jimmy Connor 28:43
So Justin, let’s just summarize everything that we’ve just discussed. First of all, the number of nuclear reactors is growing. And when you factor in China, it’s going to grow significantly, they’re going to need a lot more Uranium, there’s all the the number of pounds being produced. And what’s the demand or what’s being consumed is already running at a deficit and that deficits only going to widen in the coming years. And you also said that there is no supply coming online anytime soon. And then when you factor in the geopolitical situation that 43% of the world’s production comes out of Kazakhstan. And I guess my question to you is, where is the price of uranium going? Because when you put all of those elements together, it sounds like a very bullish case for uranium.
Justin Huhn 29:32
Sure, well, I want to I want to correct one thing that you said because I think it’s important to understand I’m not saying there’s no supply. There is supply that’s going to come online there is supply that’s going to increase and we’ve got, for example, a couple of companies that I mentioned, we’ll be producing a couple million pounds in the US. We have MacArthur and cigar that are attempting to ramp up to full production Paladins Langer Heinrich in Namibia is restarting. So you know, I think they’ve got to only 5% of that goes to China, but they’ll have a few million pounds a year to be able to sell really long term contracts, which much of that is already being secured currently. What else do we have boss energy is going to be producing maybe a million pounds next year are ramping up a little bit beyond that, if they can. Uzbeks are increasing production, they’re trying to get a doubling in production by the end of the decade, will they reach that? Probably not, but they might get close. That will be, you know, maybe an additional million pounds of production per year going out to 2030 Kazakhs will be able to increase a little bit. So there is some supply that is going to increase in the coming years. But based on our own calculations, and the calculations of everybody that we’re in contact with in the industry, it’s not going to come close to filling that gap in demand. And then we do know the amount of uranium that needs to be purchased by nuclear utilities, just for their uncovered requirements to operate their facilities, not including secondary demand from financials, not including inventory restocking. We have a major supply gap. So what does that mean for the price? It’s really hard to place price targets because there’s no How can I say this? There’s no real reason that the price is $81 a pound here. You know what I mean? Like, it’s not like there’s a project that’s about to come online that needs $81 A pound and that’s why the price is there. There’s no reason it’s 80 and not 70. And not 100. Like any any price, any price in that range could be where we’re at today. And it doesn’t really change what’s happening on the supply side. The projects that are coming online are already coming online. And products products that aren’t won’t at 70 Won’t at 90 either. So where the price goes, it’s like you can you can say, okay, the marginal production, the last, the last marginal pounds. That’s the price. All right, so just like a classic commodity market trope, that last marginal pound is what the price is going where that sold. That sets the price. Theoretically, that’s true. What is that last marginal pound? Well, it’s probably the early development stage or late exploration stage Namibian projects. I bring them in Namibia because very, very large mines exist there. You’ve got China’s who saw mine, which is producing 1213 14 million pounds a year massive mine, Langer, Heinrich Rossing there’s a number of big mines there. And there will be more big mines and these development projects, Bannerman, deep yellow forces, all these projects, are these companies that have projects there. That by the way, these companies have been pretty quiet, right? 81 bucks a pound here they did feasibility studies is 65. What’s going on? Why are they ramping into production? That’s, that’s a question that we should be asking right now. In my opinion, is because the price isn’t high enough, and they haven’t secured enough contracts do in order to come online, they got to spend a lot of money to develop these projects. But let’s say that last marginal pound in Namibia can be sold at $100 a pound. All right, that means we’re going to hit $100 A pound because that’s what the industry is going to need to fill that supply gap $100 A pound does not necessarily satisfy where we need to go based on total demand. And when we have industry players competing with Financials for pounds that they actually need that the industry needs, then we could get into a bidding wars. We could there can be so Okay, so to give a little perspective, the primary producers the industry largely relies upon, because Adam prom and their joint ventures Cameco or ronto. Uranium One, they’re basically sold out of uranium for the next three to four years, they don’t have much production capacity left to sell into long term contracts. So what production capacity still exists for 2020 789, there’s going to be a bidding war. And these companies know it Cameco is pulled back on their contracting, because Adam prom is probably going to do the same. They know they have something extremely valuable. And the players that need it are going to have to pay up to get it. That’s where we’re at now. So it’s not necessarily okay, what is the fully allocated cost of production, and that’s what the industry is going to pay. The companies just went through hell for the last 15 years. They’re not going to produce to break even, they’re going to milk this and they’re going to get paid to do it. And so that’s that’s where we’re at, there’s going to be a bidding war amongst the utilities and the financials are going to be in there as well. So where will the price go? I have no idea Jimmy. I really don’t and I don’t want to sound stupid by putting a price a price target out there. But I can tell you right now that $81 A pound here. inflation adjusted is like 55 and 2006 and the price went in 2006 from 55 up to 130 in total of months, are we going to hit 100 $200? a pound? I don’t know. But it absolutely is in the cards? And How high will it go beyond that marginal cost of production? I really don’t know. But all I can tell you is we’re heading much, much higher. And I can’t really tell you where that target is going to be, because it’s not going to make sense when we get there. And so a logical, a logical calculation of where it should go, doesn’t tell me where it will go.
Jimmy Connor 35:28
So it’s a very compelling story. And as we wrap up, Justin, and we look out into 2024, what are the catalysts that we should be looking out for, so we can try to gauge where the price might be going?
Justin Huhn 35:42
The catalysts I think that are going to happen in the next 12 months are going to be more participation by financials. And it almost kind of scares me to even say that because we’re seeing, okay, 10 days ago, we saw a $3 jump in the spot price on zero pounds traded, zero pounds traded, just talk back and forth between buyers and sellers move the price up $3, we can see 100,000 pounds purchase, move the price up multiple dollars. So what happens if the financials actually smell blood in the water and start to go after this thing? It could really, really, it can get pretty crazy pretty quickly. I think it’s likely to happen. It’s not something I necessarily want to happen. It’s not something that needs to happen. It’s not something that’s part of the thesis that we’re betting on. But it’s absolutely something that can’t be ignored. So I would watch out for that. There’s a new fund coming online called PFY. And it’s based out of Singapore. They have an advisor with asked Arbeiter bidorbuy of who’s the former upper management at kazatomprom. And I think the market knows that’s coming. How much financial interest is there in this fund? We hear rumors of multiple hundreds of millions of initial interest whether or not that’s true, I don’t know. We’ll have to see. Of course, Sprott is there, they are applying for a physical redemption mechanism for their vehicle where certain industry players, utilities primarily, would be able to actually buy units of the Sprott physical uranium trust, and redeem for physical at nav. If that happens, that will be fantastic, because it will basically glue the vehicle to NAV. And it’ll have kind of a a counterintuitive effect where yes, they will be able to redeem for physical uranium, but they’ll probably be buying more physical uranium because they’re going to be trading closer to NAV pretty much all the time. Hopefully that gets approved. So watch out for that. Other catalysts. I don’t really think we need catalysts. At this point, I think, you know, Spot did the heavy lifting of buying 60 something million pounds in less than two years. They don’t need to buy another pound. We don’t need catalysts anymore. I think here it’s positioning when the market is weak. If you’re not already in looking for leverage in ways that you can get it the miners typically do have leverage, we have yet to see major minor outperformance of the physical commodity, we saw that in the first leg of the market. Now, if you chart you RNM against the commodity, it’s basically chopping sideways and has been for the last year. So we’ve yet to see the miners really break out I think that they will have leverage again in this market. But honestly, I don’t think we need any catalyst anymore, Jimmy, we just don’t time to just let it play out. The industry players need to do a lot of buying still and there’s not a lot left for them to buy. So it should be a pretty exciting next few years. And there was a great article that was just put out by gearing and Rosenzweig. And I think they made a really, really important point. They were attempting to recognize where the this market is going to top out. And that was very difficult. They don’t think we’re going to see a demand, it’s not going to be a demand destruction story of what piques the price out in this market. I tend to agree with them. I don’t think we’re going to see another Fukushima type situation where whether or not we have another nuclear accident, which knock on wood, we don’t and of course that would be bad in the short term for sentiment and for equities. 100%. But are we going to see 10% of the world’s demand for uranium and the global fleet just be like, Okay, we’re not doing this anymore? Probably not based on the the elements I’ve already spoken about with national security, energy security, etc. These are very, very important assets. So what is going to top this market out? It’s probably going to be supply and there’s no supply relief in the next five years. There just isn’t isn’t and it’s insufficient. So we’re talking about arrow coming online, Phoenix coming online Kazakhs reaching the full production to the extent that they can Uzbeks reaching full production, maybe some production with the French out of Mongolia late decade into the 2030s. It’s going to be multiple years before we have a supply relief sufficient to match demand. And that’s probably what is going to pick the price out. So I think we have many years ahead of us a price a creative environment for the commodity. Like I said, I don’t think we need any catalysts, but keep your eyes on on the financial players because I think that I think they’re going to smell blood. And when they do, it’s gonna get pretty exciting pretty quickly.
Jimmy Connor 40:16
Well, that was a fascinating discussion, Justin. And if someone would like to learn more about you and your services that you offer, where can they go?
Justin Huhn 40:25
Uraniuminsider.com is our website. I’m also decently active on Twitter. It’s been less or so since I’ve been on the road over the last couple of weeks, but I should get back on there. But I can be reached and interacted with on Twitter @uraniuminsider, but primarily through our website, uraniuminsider.com.
Jimmy Connor 40:42
Once again, Justin, thank you. My pleasure. Thanks for having me. If you’re trying to figure out your financial future, consider having a discussion with a financial advisor that Wealthion has firstname.lastname@example.org. All you have to do is fill out a short form and answer a few simple questions. There’s no obligation on your part to work with any of these advisors. It’s a free service that Wealthion offers to everyone. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel wealthion.com And make sure you hit that notification button to be kept up to date on future events. We have some amazing content coming out in the coming weeks that will help you make financial decisions. If you would like to learn more about uranium, check on my YouTube channel, Bloor Street capital. There’s a wealth of information on there not only about uranium, but also precious metals and battery metals. Once again, thank you for spending time with us today and I look forward to seeing you again soon.