The world's largest uranium producer, Cameco of Canada, has reported an increase in both revenue and earnings for last year.
Cameco said total revenue rose from C$689 million ($431 million) to C$701 million ($439 million), while net earnings before special items rose from C$45 million to C$56 million. The increase is attributed largely to about C$7 million of post-tax profit arising from Cameco's 15% stake in Bruce Power.
The news prompted a new high for the Saskatchewan-based company's share price. Since April 2000 the shares have gradually risen from C$15 to a high of C$45.15 on February 8.
Revenue from Cameco's nuclear business as a whole rose by 1% to C$586 million (84% of total revenue, with the remainder coming from gold) - thanks largely to a 3% increase in nuclear sales volume over the previous year. However, there was a slight drop in the realised sales prices of nuclear products (reflecting differences between spot and market prices). The overall nuclear profit margin dropped slightly, from 22% to 20%.
On the production side, uranium production rose last year by just over 13% to 18.8 million pounds U3O8 (about 7231 tonnes uranium). The majority - just over 12 million pounds U3O8 (4616tU) - came from McArthur River. Uranium conversion volumes also increased, from 9327tU to 10,958tU.
Uranium prices climbed 35% in the past year, but Cameco believes prices are still too low for investments in new mine production.
According to Jerry Grandey, the company's president, Cameco has recently committed to buy about 63 million pounds of uranium from Russia, and retains an option for another 40 million pounds.