The resource-rich country accounts for about 40% of the global uranium production it sells to utilities in the Us and elsewhere.
Instability in Kazakhstan, the world’s largest uranium producer, threatens to curb production and raise prices at the same time as nuclear fuel supplies become increasingly limited.
Dozens of people died Thursday as authorities targeted protesters after several days of unrest and the arrival of a Russian-led military alliance to quell unrest.
Traders and Western mining companies say the protests could make it harder to transport workers and equipment to mining sites when shifts change, and could halt exports from the country.
Uranium prices jumped after protests erupted on Sunday over soaring energy prices, prompting the government to resign.
Protests have also pushed up crude oil prices.
Kazakhstan is a member of the OPEC+ alliance and produced about 1.7 million barrels of oil per day in November, according to the International Energy Agency, just under 2 percent of what the world consumes every day.
The volatility hit at a vulnerable time for uranium markets. Prices are more than 50% higher than they were 12 months ago, according to UxC LLC. The upswing ended a long downturn caused by the collapse of the Japanese reactor in 2011, which led Japan and Germany to shut down nuclear power plants, undermining demand.
Shares of National Atomic Co. Kazatomprom JSC, the state-run uranium miner, fell 6.7 percent in London on Thursday.
Supply fell in part because investors bought the fuel, bet that governments would embrace nuclear power to stop carbon emissions. Casatomprom and Canada’s Cameco Corp., the second-largest producer, cut production to drain the oversaturation that emerged after the crash of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011
Nuclear reactors operated by utilities, which typically buy uranium years in advance, will not immediately suffer a blow from rising prices. But reliance on Kazakhstan and Canadian uranium could cause companies to diversify their supplies, said Arthur Hyde, a partner at uranium-focused hedge fund Segra Capital Managementmen
Dealer Anatoliy Pavlov