It has been a week since Germany announced that it would phase out its nuclear power plants over the next decade and nearly three months since Japan was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami, creating a nuclear crisis in the country. But Canadian uranium producers continue to drift lower.
On Wednesday afternoon, Denison Mines Corp. fell 9.2 per cent and Uranium One Inc. was down 8.7 per cent, both hitting new lows for the year after total declines of more than 50 per cent from their respective 52-week highs. Cameco Corp. , the biggest uranium producer, was down 3.6 per cent, bringing its total descent to 41 per cent.
Commodities and commodity producers have been relatively weak over the same period, with many investors growing concerned by the steady stream of disappointing economic news flowing out of the United States in particular. But the declines have been mild next to the uranium-drubbing: The Reuters/Jefferies CRB index of 19 commodities has fallen 6 per cent from its recent high point, while materials stocks within the S&P/TSX composite index have fallen 15 per cent.
Bloomberg News blames the latest setback on a New York Times article, which reported that international energy ministers and officials of nuclear energy agencies agreed that the world needs improved safety tests for existing nuclear facilities – but the attendees of that meeting apparently were not out to demonize nuclear energy.
“There was no debate on whether to abandon nuclear or to start a program,” said Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the French ecology minister who led the meeting, according to the Times. “There was a general, uncontested agreement from everyone at the meeting that nuclear safety must come first – whether it’s a question of more or less nuclear power. And that depends on international cooperation.”