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Commodity Update: Is the Summer Slump Over?

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Summer Slump: Commodities Return -5.7% in Q3

Commodity Update for Q3 2016

Last update, we triumphantly proclaimed that commodities were “back”.

However, we did forget to add one important caveat, which is that they could still get hit hard in the short-term by the classic “Sell in May and Go Away” market sentiment.

In Q3, commodities as a whole entered a “summer slump”, returning -5.7% as measured by the GSCI (Goldman Sachs Commodity Index). Performance was dragged down mostly by agricultural goods such as wheat, corn, and soybeans, but also by uranium which had another poor quarter.

Despite this bump in the road, most commodities are still having big years on a YTD basis:

  • Silver, crude oil, and zinc are all up over 30% on the year.
  • Gold, palladium, natural gas, and nickel are all up over 20%
  • Uranium is the only metal in red, down over -30%

Here’s Q3 and YTD performance for each commodity:

Q3YTD
Silver-3.2%39.0%
Brent Oil-1.2%34.2%
Zinc-3.2%31.4%
WTI-2.1%30.1%
Palladium19.1%28.4%
Gold-1.3%24.3%
Natural gas-2.7%23.8%
Nickel11.9%23.5%
Platinum-2.8%15.9%
Aluminum1.4%12.8%
Soybeans-18.0%10.4%
Copper-0.5%3.6%
Corn-6.5%-5.9%
Coal1.3%-7.7%
Wheat-6.3%-14.4%
Uranium-12.0%-31.6%

There’s no doubt that Q4 will be another interesting quarter for the sector.

In November, the U.S. election will take place, and pundits are warning that a certain result would cause extreme market volatility. At the same time, some experts think that this unpredictability could fuel a mega-rally in gold and other precious metals. We think both of these things are possibilities.

Meanwhile, the recent tentative OPEC deal has brought crude oil to four-month highs. However, markets are skeptical that the deal is for real, and the general sentiment seems to be that a production freeze may fail to materialize as all parties try to finalize the deal.

What are your predictions for commodities over the next three months?

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Charted: Global Uranium Reserves, by Country

We visualize the distribution of the world’s uranium reserves by country, with 3 countries accounting for more than half of total reserves.

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A cropped chart visualizing the distribution of the global uranium reserves, by country.

Charted: Global Uranium Reserves, by Country

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

There can be a tendency to believe that uranium deposits are scarce from the critical role it plays in generating nuclear energy, along with all the costs and consequences related to the field.

But uranium is actually fairly plentiful: it’s more abundant than gold and silver, for example, and about as present as tin in the Earth’s crust.

We visualize the distribution of the world’s uranium resources by country, as of 2021. Figures come from the World Nuclear Association, last updated on August 2023.

Ranked: Uranium Reserves By Country (2021)

Australia, Kazakhstan, and Canada have the largest shares of available uranium resources—accounting for more than 50% of total global reserves.

But within these three, Australia is the clear standout, with more than 1.7 million tonnes of uranium discovered (28% of the world’s reserves) currently. Its Olympic Dam mine, located about 600 kilometers north of Adelaide, is the the largest single deposit of uranium in the world—and also, interestingly, the fourth largest copper deposit.

Despite this, Australia is only the fourth biggest uranium producer currently, and ranks fifth for all-time uranium production.

CountryShare of Global
Reserves
Uranium Reserves (Tonnes)
🇦🇺 Australia28%1.7M
🇰🇿 Kazakhstan13%815K
🇨🇦 Canada10%589K
🇷🇺 Russia8%481K
🇳🇦 Namibia8%470K
🇿🇦 South Africa5%321K
🇧🇷 Brazil5%311K
🇳🇪 Niger5%277K
🇨🇳 China4%224K
🇲🇳 Mongolia2%145K
🇺🇿 Uzbekistan2%131K
🇺🇦 Ukraine2%107K
🌍 Rest of World9%524K
Total100%6M

Figures are rounded.

Outside the top three, Russia and Namibia both have roughly the same amount of uranium reserves: about 8% each, which works out to roughly 470,000 tonnes.

South Africa, Brazil, and Niger all have 5% each of the world’s total deposits as well.

China completes the top 10, with a 3% share of uranium reserves, or about 224,000 tonnes.

A caveat to this is that current data is based on known uranium reserves that are capable of being mined economically. The total amount of the world’s uranium is not known exactly—and new deposits can be found all the time. In fact the world’s known uranium reserves increased by about 25% in the last decade alone, thanks to better technology that improves exploration efforts.

Meanwhile, not all uranium deposits are equal. For example, in the aforementioned Olympic Dam, uranium is recovered as a byproduct of copper mining occurring at the same site. In South Africa, it emerges as a byproduct during treatment of ores in the gold mining process. Orebodies with high concentrations of two substances can increase margins, as costs can be shared for two different products.

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