ASX uranium stocks get belted amid Ukrainian nuclear plant fears
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ASX uranium stocks have reacted to another risk event stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, amid unconfirmed reports a nuclear power plant is on fire after Russian shelling.
The plant is situated in Zaporizhzhia, a city in south-eastern Ukraine, and is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
Reports emerged this morning (Australian time) that the local mayor said firefighters were unable to put out a blaze at the plant because Russian forces kept firing at it.
The commentary was distributed via the NEXTA Channel, a news outlet headquartered in Belarus.
The market selloff then appeared to accelerate following this tweet from Ukraine foreign affairs minister Dmytro Kuleba.
Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broke out. If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl! Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 4, 2022
Shortly afterwards, other reports emerged that firefighters had now got access to an administrative building at the complex.
While the actual realities on the ground in a war zone can be hard to ascertain, there was a major move in ASX uranium stocks.
The sector got hammered across the board:
Scroll or swipe to reveal table. Click headings to sort.
|EL8||Elevate Uranium Ltd||0.49||-22.8%||$165,426,485|
|DYL||Deep Yellow Limited||0.74||-21.3%||$363,815,828|
|PDN||Paladin Energy Ltd||0.6825||-20.6%||$2,303,889,249|
|LOT||Lotus Resources Ltd||0.25||-19.4%||$302,567,977|
|BMN||Bannerman Energy Ltd||0.205||-18.0%||$308,625,298|
|PEN||Peninsula Energy Ltd||0.1775||-17.4%||$214,418,681|
|VAL||Valor Resources Ltd||0.01||-16.7%||$43,853,006|
|TOE||Toro Energy Limited||0.016||-15.8%||$74,049,501|
|BOE||Boss Energy Ltd||2.28||-15.6%||$770,798,211|
|DEV||Devex Resources Ltd||0.365||-3.9%||$119,389,908|
|RDT||Red Dirt Metals Ltd||0.52||-2.8%||$136,508,227|
|BKY||Berkeley Energia Ltd||0.24||-2.0%||$109,220,195|
|VMY||Vimy Resources Ltd||0.225||0.0%||$237,919,798|
|LAM||Laramide Res Ltd||0.635||0.0%||$772,847|
|CXU||Cauldron Energy Ltd||0.019||0.0%||$9,334,579|
“There’s two pressing things here. For the markets, this attach shows the Russians’ willingness to mess with nuclear – essentially play with fire, with the fear it suggests a slippery slope where nuclear weapons could be employed,” Rodda said.
“And for uranium stocks, if this plant does explode or gets major damage, it simultaneously leads to an immediate drop in demand for uranium.”
The Zaporizhzhia plant has 6 VVER-1000 pressurized light water nuclear reactors, each generating 950 MWe, for a total power output of 5,700 MWe.
It generates nearly half of Ukraine’s electricity derived from nuclear power, and more than a fifth of total electricity generated in Ukraine.
A catastrophe at Zaporizhzhia “could result in a Fukushima scale backlash against nuclear power that could see policymakers completely abandon it as a source of alternative energy, and investors refuse give such enterprises capital”, Rodda said.
However, he added a contrarian take for investors assessing how to protect their portfolios through the conflict.
“It could also be that nuclear insecurity – especially if Putin starts leveraging nuclear weapons against Europe – might drive the public towards great investment in nuclear, as a national defence imperative,” he said.
“For now though, the market clearly sees this as an example of the dangers of nuclear energy.”
In line with the broader flight out of risk assets, the five-day winning streak for the ASX microcap Emerging Companies index will come to a sudden halt today.
Shortly after midday, it was almost 3% lower.
Brent oil prices have made another sharp move higher, while in currency markets money has flowed into the two global safe havens — USD and Japanese yen.
The Aussie dollar has dipped slightly against the greenback but a short time ago was still trading slightly above US73c.
By 12:30pm EST, the ASX had climbed slightly off its morning lows. US stock futures also took a sharp turn for the worse following the Zaporizhzhia reports.