How Coronavirus Affects Global Uranium Market

Galymzhan Pirmatov, board chairman of Kazatomprom, shares his opinion

Various industries were forced by the COVID-19 pandemic to reassess their businesses. The devastating impact of the coronavirus has shown the importance of a sustainable and clean source of energy such as nuclear energy to support utilities around the world. The surge of uranium prices amid a plunge in oil and other commodities prices proves the uniqueness of the uranium market. Stable demand, as well as uranium products oversupply downsizing, helped the market to raise the price by 40% in 2020.

The Samruk-Kazyna holding, the majority stakeholder of Kazatomprom, took into consideration the positive market environment and good performance of its stocks, and made a secondary public offering. By doing this, the company has implemented the order of the government to sell 25% of its share capital in the frame of the Complex Privatization Plan. The company believes that SPO is the next step to further growth for Kazatomprom stocks’ liquidity.

Samruk-Kazyna has chosen the very right time for Kazatomprom’s SPO, which has attracted interest from many investors. The SPO was successful, with the volume of orders from institutional investors 2.2 times above the offer. The demand from individual investors, citizens of Kazakhstan, exceeded supply 2.9 times.

Through book-building at the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and Astana International Exchange (AIX) and following SPO on the AIX in individual investors’ favor, the company provided an opportunity for many interested investors to participate in buying stocks of the world’s uranium industry leader.

Nevertheless, we were not surprised by the incredibly high demand for Kazatomprom stocks from both big institutional investors around the world and Kazakhstani citizens. Investors’ expectations in mid- and long-term uranium prices growth have been proven. And of course, it’s a good decision to pour money into stocks of Kazatomprom, the biggest uranium producer in the world. The company’s portfolio of contracts and its financial results very closely tied with spot prices for uranium itself. Therefore, now is a unique opportunity to benefit from this growth. For nearly two years after IPO, our company shows stable financial results and a very low debt level. In terms of 2018 results, Kazatomprom paid 308,46 tenge ($0.8 calculated by Kursiv) per share in dividends. In 2019 the dividends were 381,72 tenge ($0.96 calculated by Kursiv) per share.

Despite a plunge in output due to the pandemic, Kazatomprom keeps sales at the same level even though the company introduced strict protective measures. The number of personnel who have been working at the production sites are minimal. All non-key staff was sent to home on paid leave. 

Mining and preparatory work has been suspended, including work on the preparation of new blocks at wellfield sites. Other major producers also announced the suspension of work at uranium mines. In general, it’s expected that reductions and temporary shutdowns of production due to COVID-19 may help to improve the balance between supply and demand for uranium.

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