Thorium Investing 2018
President Trump and several other world leaders are scrambling to deal with hostile nations developing nuclear weapons programs under the guise of energy research.
Only time will tell how it will all work out. But as the rhetoric and fear surrounding nuclear weapons and energy research builds, investor interest may begin to grow around a little-known nuclear fuel: thorium. And that could mean money in your pocket.
What is thorium?
Thorium is one of the basic universal elements, like hydrogen and gold. It’s a radioactive material that's closely related to uranium. And like uranium, the metal can be used to fuel a nuclear chain reaction to power plants and make electricity.
Most current thorium applications use its dioxide in a number of different ways, like producing filaments and heat-resistant ceramics. But thorium's most important application is its potential use for nuclear energy.
The technology is still in development, and there are currently no nuclear reactors fueled by thorium. Today’s nuclear reactors are fueled by uranium or plutonium. But using thorium as a fuel to run a nuclear power plant has an important geopolitical angle that will be more and more important in the future.
The science is a bit above my pay grade here, but the short of it is this...
Current uranium-fueled nuclear reactors are cooled by water or liquid metal. These reactors can be used to produce material for nuclear weapons. We don’t want the bad guys to have these types of reactors.
But a different type of reactor, one cooled by molten salt, does not create good material for bombs. And the best-known material for running one of these molten salt reactors is thorium.
Thorium-fueled molten salt reactors are still a long way from commercial application. But they are a much better option to allow possibly hostile nations to develop since they can’t produce good material for nuclear weapons.
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As the media focuses more on nuclear geopolitics, future options like thorium-fueled molten salt reactors are likely to be discussed more. This could lead to a significant boost in investor interest. Right now there’s virtually none.
Investing in thorium can be tough. Obviously there’s no owning the physical metal, and there are no thorium ETFs or futures.
The thorium market is closed to only a handful of industrial traders. But there are a few public companies that explore and produce the nuclear fuel.
There are one or two small junior companies focused on exploring for thorium. But companies with the largest thorium assets are large uranium miners. Uranium miners like Cameco Corp. (NYSE: CCJ) are mining uranium in areas that also have concentrations of thorium.
Continued geopolitical distress will eventually push leaders to seek safe nuclear alternatives. Even though the technology is still years away from perfection, thorium-fueled molten salt reactors may be a big part of those alternatives. And that could lead to profits for the well-positioned investor.
Thorium could be the nuclear fuel of the future. Keep a close eye on it.
Until next time,
As an editor at Energy and Capital, Luke’s analysis and market research reach hundreds of thousands of investors every day. Luke is also a contributing editor of Angel Publishing’s Bubble and Bust Report newsletter. There, he helps investors in leveraging the future supply-demand imbalance that he believes could be key to a cyclical upswing in the hard asset markets. For more on Luke, go to his editor’s page.
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