This week, Cameco announced the suspension of its 50%-owned Cigar Lake mine in Saskatchewan, the world's largest uranium operation, due to increasing risks posed by COVID-19 and a lack of access to qualified workers.
It said its share of production for the first nine months of 2020 had been 2.3 million pounds of uranium oxide, and it would not meet full-year guidance of 5.3Mlb.
"Due to the suspension, we plan to increase our purchases in the market to secure uranium we need to meet our sales commitments," Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel said.
"COVID-19 has taught us many lessons, including that the pandemic is a greater risk to uranium supply than to uranium demand."
Stocks in Australia and Canada had already attracted interest in recent weeks and Canaccord Genuity analysts said upward pressure on pricing and equities was likely.
"We now forecast total primary mine supply of just 111Mlb U3O8, a level not seen since 2008," analysts said overnight.
"Including secondary sources of supply, we anticipate an overall market deficit of 28Mlb U3O8.
"Furthermore, we believe there is a high probability that COVID-19 impacts on production continue into 2021."
The spot price remains at just under US$30 a pound.
Canaccord said utilities were yet to re-enter the term market to ensure future supply for reactors.
"In our view, the likelihood of a near-term return to contracting is improving as a number of policy issues that had previously hung over the market are now removed (Section 232 investigation, NFWG report, RSA negotiations) and risks to supply are more apparent," it said.
"We believe term contracting at higher prices will be a key driver for a sustained improvement in the uranium price."
Other positive catalysts for uranium is the move to electrification and decarbonisation, demand growth from China, and the election of Joe Biden as president of the US.
According to Canaccord, uranium equities are already up 71% year-to-date.
Its preferred picks in Australia are Paladin Energy and Boss Energy. In Canada, it likes NexGen Energy and in the UK, Yellowcake.
Shares in Paladin have more than doubled this year, while Boss is up nearly 70%.
Lotus Resources shares hit a 52-week today to take its 2020 gain to 160%. Bannerman Resources is up more than 120% this year, while Energy Resources of Australia and Vimy Resources are each up by about 30%.
Most are at or near 52-week highs today.