Canadian uranium producer Cameco’s net earnings and cash from operations in 2023 more than doubled compared with 2022, and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was up 93%, off the back of higher uranium prices.
Renewed focus on nuclear energy as a vital source in the renewables transition has spurred demand for uranium, the metal most widely used for nuclear fission. Uranium spot prices more than doubled to $100 per pound (lb) at the end of January 2024, jumping from $48/lb at the end of 2022.
Konstantinos Venetis, commodities economist at GlobalData TS Lombard, said: “Demand (for uranium) has increased as nuclear energy becomes a more popular option in the context of ‘net zero’ – especially in China and other emerging markets. At the same time a decent share of supply sits in geopolitically sensitive areas. With speculative players jumping on this theme, prices have received an additional boost.”
Cameco’s year-end revenue for 2023 was $1.93bn (C$2.6bn), up from $1.39bn in 2022. Gross profit was $417.7m, up from $173.18m in 2022.
Tim Gitzel, CEO of Cameco, said: “The benefits of nuclear power have come clearly into focus, with 28 countries around the world declaring support for the tripling of capacity to help achieve global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The uncertainty about where nuclear fuel supplies will come from to satisfy growing demand has led to increased long-term contracting activity, and in 2023, about 160 million pounds of uranium was placed under long-term contracts by utilities.”
In 2023, Cameco also acquired a 49% stake in the US nuclear construction company Westinghouse. Brookfield asset management owns the remaining 51%.
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At each of the McArthur River-Key Lake and Cigar Lake mines, Cameco plans to produce 18 million pounds of uranium oxide this year. In 2023, the company produced 17.6 million pounds.