Japan’s nuclear restart to boost Australian uranium industry

The Minerals Council of Australia says Australia’s uranium industry is set for a boost as Japan moves to restart nuclear reactors for the first time since the Fukushima meltdown.

Two reactors at Japan’s Sendai nuclear plant in the south west of the country are due to restart next year after receiving approval from local governor Yuichiro Ito.

This is the first time a reactor will restart since an earthquake triggered a tsunami in 2011, causing a meltdown at the Fukushima facility.

All of Japan’s 48 nuclear plants were shut down in response, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing for their reopening as the cost of importing oil and gas hurts the Japanese economy, BBC reported.

Before the meltdown nuclear energy produced around 30 per cent of Japan’s power.

"I have decided that it is unavoidable to restart the No. 1 and No. 2 Sendai nuclear reactors," Ito said.

"I have said that assuring safety is a prerequisite and that the government must ensure safety and publicly explain it thoroughly to residents."

Executive director for uranium at the Minerals Council of Australia Daniel Zavattiero said the move was good news for the local uranium industry and its 4000 workers.

“Japan has been a major export destination for Australian uranium and its re-entry to the market will boost investment and development of the Australian industry,” Zavattiero said.

“Japan’s decision also sends a strong signal affirming nuclear’s role in meeting the world’s growing demand for energy.”

The price of uranium collapsed after the 2011 disaster and had been hovering at around $36.75 a pound, forcing many miners to shut their operations.

The announcement of the nuclear restart prompted a 14 per cent rise in price to $42 a pound last week.

However analysts say a price of around $60 a pound is required for uranium producers to reopen their mines.

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