Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Cameco Corp (NYSE:CCJ)
Q2 2020 Earnings Call
Jul 29, 2020, 8:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Thank you for standing. Welcome to the Cameco Corporation Second Quarter 2020 Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] The conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Rachelle Girard, Vice President, Investor Relations, Treasury and Tax. Please go ahead, Ms. Girard.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thank you, operator, and good morning, everyone. Welcome to Cameco's second quarter conference call. Like last quarter, we are doing things a little differently again. Recently, we've been experiencing some challenges with our phone lines and have had a large volume of dropped calls. As a result, we are again planning to conduct the QA portion of the call in a listen-only mode. There has been a lot going on both for the company and the industry, and we recognize there is significant interest and limited sources of information for our investors. Therefore, we want to ensure that we were able to clearly and reliably communicate with the investment community. We have been proactive with our communications during this period, conducting numerous conference calls both with individual investors and via virtual roadshows, conferences and sell-side hosted investor calls.

We have collected questions from our sell-side analysts and have augmented that list to include the common questions we have been hearing during our outreach with the investment community. To help with the understanding of the information, we have organized the questions to focus first on the market than the impact of the market on Cameco's performance; and then finally, some more specific chemical factors. As always, we will make ourselves available to speak to you after the call. Should your questions not be addressed on this call. There are a few ways to contact us. You can reach out to the contacts provided in our news release. You can submit a question through the contact tab on our website or you can use the submit a question tab on the webcast, and we will be happy to follow-up after this call.

With us today on the call are Tim Gitzel, President and CEO; Grant Isaac, Senior VP and CFO; Brian Reilly, Senior VP and Chief Operating Officer; Sean Quinn, Senior VP, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary; and Alice Wong, Senior VP and Chief Corporate Officer. Tim will begin with comments on our strategy and the market. After, we will move to the Q&A portion of the call. If you join the conference call through our website event page, there are slides available, which will be displayed during the call. The slides are also available for download in a PDF file through the conference call link at cameco.com. Please note that this conference call will include forward-looking information, which is based on a number of assumptions and actual results could differ materially. Please refer to our annual information form and MD&A for more information about the factors that could cause these different results and the assumptions we have made.

With that, I will turn it over to Tim.

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Well, thank you, Rachelle, and welcome to everyone who's joined us today. I hope you and your families have been able to remain safe and healthy during these unprecedented and challenging times. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on people and economics around the world. We at Cameco have also felt the impact with the proactive shutdown of our operations, which have come at a significant cost to our bottom line in the second quarter. That said, we at Cameco are well positioned financially with a very solid balance sheet. Further, our strategy remains intact, and we continue to meet all of our committed deliveries to our customers. Our ability to do so was strengthened by the successful restart of the Blind River refinery, and the Port Hope UF6 conversion plant in May. And we're happy to announce that, providing it is safe to do so.

We expect our position will be further strengthened by the planned restart of Cigar Lake in September. Let me say a few words about our perspective on the uranium market. First, we believe that world uranium supply continues to be at risk as a result of the threats posed by the pandemic, both this year and next; and second, that demand is beginning to emerge on market something we've all been watching and waiting for. So the market is showing resilience and price seems to have reset. Spot prices are up close to 35% since the start of the unplanned supply disruptions this year. And Tradetech's production cost indicator sits at USD44.5 per pound and UXC's five year price is at USD38.75 per pound. And of course, from a company perspective, I have to highlight that we had another victory in our CRA dispute. The Federal Court of appeal decided unanimously in our favor at the end of June. So there's been a lot going on. Let's dig into some of the details. I want to start with our plan to restart Cigar Lake in September.

It's our biggest news like the successful restarts of Blind River and in Port Hope, it's an example of our success in proactively managing the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are very pleased to be able to make this announcement. It's good for Cameco from a financial perspective. From a risk management perspective, and it's good for Northern Saskatchewan. Having Cigar Lake running was always a part of our 2020 plan. On the financial front, our strategy relies on having low-cost pounds from Cigar Lake in our cost structure. These low-cost pounds helped offset the cost of our strategy on the operational and marketing fronts. However, the COVID related shutdown of Cigar Lake has increased our costs. Our care and maintenance costs are up $37 million as a result of the proactive shutdown of our various operations, including Cigar Lake, and we're required to purchase more uranium than we had anticipated at the beginning of the year.

Given the 35% increase in the spot price of uranium, these additional purchases come at a higher cost than our produced pounds. As a result, we expect our average unit cost of sales will be higher than we expected at the start of the year. From a risk management perspective, Cigar Lake restart will allow us to continue to meet our deliveries in a market where prices have risen due to the increased demand and the thinning of available supply. And it's good for the communities in Northern Saskatchewan, who depend on the operation for employment, business development and community investment.

We will obviously continue to actively monitor the public health situation and will take a measured approach with all of our restart activities. The health and safety of our employees, their families and their communities continue to be the priority focus of all of our plans, and we will align these plans with the guidance of the relevant health authorities where we operate. We expect it will take approximately two weeks to get back into production. While it's good for Cameco to restart Cigar Lake, the restart does not change the fact that there remains tremendous uncertainty about uranium supply as the pandemic continues to cause unplanned supply disruptions added to the planned supply discipline that has already been undertaken. So the restart of Cigar Lake will not be the savior for the market.

We will not make up lost production this year. And while we are targeting our share of production to be up to 5.3 million pounds in total for 2020, there are risks to that target. The restart and continued operation will be dependent on our ability to establish and maintain safe and stable operating protocols, along with a number of other factors, including the availability of the necessary workforce and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting Northern Saskatchewan. And the COVID related shutdown creates potential risk to Cigar Lake's production rate in 2021 as well caused by delays in deferrals in project work, including lower capital expenditures. Since the Cigar Lake production is for term contracts, not for the spot market, no additional spot supply will result from the restart. Then consider that COVID has impacted JV Inkai's production and all other Kazakh production in 2020. The we also expect that the COVID-19 related disruptions will impact the volume of material we will purchase from Inkai this year.

There's been a resurgence in the number of cases of COVID-19 in Kazakhstan, and is having to reintroduce lockdown measures. making the health and safety of employees priority announced a one month extension to the already three month reduction in wellfield development activities at all its uranium mines in Kazakhstan. It expects to gradually increase mine site staff levels in August, if it is safe to do so. Until kazatomprom can restart these activities, it is not clear to us what the impact on our purchases from Inkai will be this year. Also due to the importance of well field development and maintaining ISR production levels, it has indicated that the longer the disruption continues, the greater the likelihood the production impact could extend beyond 2020 to 2021 in Kazakhstan.

And don't forget that the McArthur River Key Lake operation remains in an indeterminant period of shutdown, requiring market purchases to make up the curtailed production. So as a result of the planned reductions in our production from McArthur River Key Lake, combined with the unplanned reductions at Cigar Lake Inkai, we have to rely more heavily on the spot market in 2020. We were active on this front in the second quarter. We purchased a total of 14.7 million pounds at an average price of USD31.30 per pound. The majority of these purchases were spot market purchases. It also means we have some purchasing yet to do. And depending on the ultimate production impact of the COVID-19 pandemic related disruptions on our 2020 supply potential 2021 supply and on how market dynamics develop, we may also begin purchasing for 2021 this year.

Despite the disruptions to our business related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we expect our business to be resilient. We remain committed to our strategy, which is why on the operational front, McArthur River Key Lake remains shut down indeterminately. Our deliveries to date have not been materially impacted nor do we expect they will be? It is true that as a result of our strategy, we have become reliant on market purchases of uranium to meet our delivery commitments, but that is a deliberate choice we have made. It potentially cost us more in the near term, and we have been upfront about the impact our purchasing activity is expected to have on our margins. Now the COVID-19 pandemic is magnifying that impact. So why did we make the choice to rely on the market for supply? Because we believe that over the long term, it will add significant value for our shareholders and other stakeholders and it will allow us to operate in a sustainable manner for years to come.

It's true that as uranium prices increase, purchases become relatively more expensive in production. However, as long as the near-term cost of purchasing is less than the added value we expect to capture under our strategy, we are better off purchasing. Where does that added value come from? Well, first, it comes from preserving our Tier one assets. As prices rise, it comes from delivering into the market-related contracts in our existing contract portfolio at higher prices. And we believe higher prices set up the conditions necessary to allow us to layer in new long-term contracts at prices that recognize the value of our Tier one assets. This is how we build long-term value. We preserve Tier one assets to deliver into a long-term contract portfolio. To strengthen our strategic result, we have been disciplined. We have made prudent and deliberate decisions to shore up our balance sheet.

As a result, we have the tools we need to deal with the current uncertain environment. We are well positioned to self-manage risk. We have almost $880 million in cash and a $1 billion undrawn credit facility, which we don't anticipate we will need to draw this year. And we believe our risk has been substantially reduced with the unanimous federal Court of Appeal decision in our favor. The decision is great news for Cameco, for our investors, for our employees and for other stakeholders. I once again want to thank our legal counsel, our expert witnesses, consultants and the many people at Cameco who worked hard on our case. Your efforts are appreciated. And I want to thank our shareholders and other stakeholders for your ongoing support and trust throughout this dispute. The court of Appeal ruling further confirms that we fall of the letter and intent of Canadian laws, and it upholds the cost award received from the tax Court of Canada.

This case only applies to the 2003, 2005 and 2006 tax years, where the total tax reassessed was $11 million, half of which we have already paid and expect will be refunded. Under this decision, the three years will now have to be reassessed in accordance with the ruling. And remember, we were awarded $10.25 million for legal costs incurred and up to $17.9 million in disbursements. However, the timing of the refund and payment of the cost award is still uncertain. The crown has the right to seek an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, but the Supreme Court must agree to hear the appeal. If an appeal is sought and granted, we estimate it will take about two years from the date of the Federal Court of appeal decision for the Supreme Court to rule on the matter.

While the ruling only applies to the three years noted, we believe the principles in the decision apply to all subsequent years. Those principles do not give the CRA the right to shift all of Cameco Europe's income back to Canada and apply Canadian statutory tax rates, interest and penalties. We will be asking the CRA to accept the ruling and to apply it to all subsequent tax years and to return our financial capacity. Our position has prevailed at every stage of the legal process. If the CRA feels the laws are not written in the way they want, they need to approach the government to change those laws moving forward, not continue to pursue the same flawed arguments. As we noted in our MD&A, CRA is currently holding $303 million in cash and $482 million in letters of credit that belong to us. Let me be clear, we will be asking to have the liquidity return so that we can sustainably manage and invest in our business for the long-term benefit of our stakeholders.

We want to continue to do our part to help rebuild the economy. Some jurisdictions are slowly starting to open, but given the human and economic effects of COVID-19 globally, it's going to take a concerted effort to do so safely and to begin the recovery process, and each one of us will have to do our part. Governments and central banks around the world have put fiscal and monetary policies in place to help stimulate and rebuild the economy. They recognize that financial flexibility and liquidity are vital to investment growth and recovery. The impacts of COVID-19 are unprecedented. But as I said before, we expect our business to be resilient. Why do I say that? As you know for many years now, in the face of an uncertain uranium market, we began implementing our strategy on three fronts: operational, marketing and financial. On the operational front, we have cut costs. And in 2016, we began curtailing uranium production, reaching a point in 2018 where our annual production was well below our annual delivery commitments.

Therefore, in our strategic planning activities, we have spent time thinking about and planning for different production scenarios. We've modeled the potential impact of these scenarios on our business, so we are prepared to deal with this unplanned event. There are a couple of other things I want to highlight that we believe strengthen the resiliency of our business. On the demand side, nuclear is very clearly back in the policy toolbox due to its carbon-free attributes. Since 100% of our products go into producing clean, carbon-free electricity we are a growing part of the solution to the clean air and climate change crisis. And now in the face of a public health crisis, we believe nuclear is once again proving its worth, due to some of its key safety and reliability attributes. First and foremost, it is baseload. It will run reliably 24 hours a day, allowing hospitals, care facilities and other essential services to continue to operate uninterrupted. In addition, nuclear reactors are designed to operate for long cycles without the need to refuel.

They carry strategic inventories to guard against supply disruptions, we have a number of backup systems for safety and reliability and fewer people are required at site to run the operations. In the current environment, all of these characteristics make nuclear power a logical choice, and it is why the International Atomic Energy agency recently reported that although electricity demand has declined in the near term, the proportion of nuclear power has increased relative to fossil fuels. So as I said earlier, our customers will need uranium. In contrast, on the supply side, things are less certain. COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global uranium production, magnifying the supply curtailments that have already occurred in the industry due to the lack of production economics.

The industry is reliant on supply that has become highly concentrated, both geographically and geologically. This concentration has given rise to a number of trade issues over the past few years, including the Section 232 investigation in the U.S., the nuclear fuel working group, the review of the Russian suspension agreement and Iran sanctions. And right now, it's the Russian suspension agreement that is a trade issue perhaps capturing the most attention, particularly that of our customers. The Russian suspension agreement imposes an import quota on Russian uranium products equivalent to 20% of annual U.S. reactor demand, and it is set to expire at the end of 2020. U.S. Department of Commerce initiated negotiations to extend and amend the agreement to at least 2040 and to reduce U.S. utility dependence on Russian source uranium products.

If the agreement is not extended by the deadline of October 5, 2020, the Department of Commerce may eventually place spinal anti-dumping duties on imports of Russian uranium products. In addition, there are efforts being driven by the U.S. domestic uranium industry that would impose limitations on the import of Russian uranium products to the U.S. These trade issues have raised concerns over the role of state-owned enterprises and have placed an increased focus on the importance of supporting the regional supply of critical minerals, including uranium from independent commercial suppliers like Cameco.

Therefore, on balance, we think the risk to supply are greater than the risk to demand, which is why today, the earnings spot price is up almost 35% since the start of the COVID-19 supply disruptions. Inventories, which have been blamed for low prices in our industry are coming into greater focus as a result of the unplanned supply disruptions. As a result of the disruptions to production, we are seeing an acceleration of the destocking that was already under way in our industry. For years, we've been hearing about large inventories of uranium, but we'll now get a sense for the mobility of these inventories. As history has taught us and as we have seen in the conversion market, though inventory in our industry may appear high, its mobility tends to be inversely related to price, which can further exacerbate supply disruptions.

And even if there is a large destocking of inventory as a result of the production disruptions, these are onetime volumes that will be cleared from the market. And in the meantime, it may allow us to make our purchases more cheaply. Over time, we expect this will create a renewed focus on ensuring the availability of long-term productive capacity to fuel nuclear reactors. And we expect this renewed focus on security of supply will provide the market signals producers need and will help offset the near-term costs we may incur as a result of the temporary disruptions to our business. As I said earlier, in this uncertain time, we expect our business to be resilient. Our decisions are deliberate, driven by the goal of increasing long-term value. We will continue to do what we said we would do, executing on our strategy in a manner consistent with our values. We are a responsible, commercially motivated supplier with a diversified portfolio of assets including a Tier one production portfolio that is among the best in the world.

I'm proud to say that at Cameco, we are doing our part to make a difference. We're providing the fuel needed to power the nuclear reactors that are part of the critical infrastructure needed to ensure hospitals, care facilities and other essential services are available to us during this pandemic. But perhaps more important is our more than 30-year commitment to protecting the health and safety of our employees, their families and their communities and supporting local business development. And in these uncertain times, it will be critical that we continue to work together to build on the strong foundation we have already established. So thanks for joining our call today.

And with that, we will move into the question-and-answer portion of the call, which, as Rochelle mentioned earlier, is in a listen-only mode.

Questions and Answers:

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

The first question comes from Andrew Wong at RBC. Industrial demand is down globally in some countries like France and Sweden are reducing nuclear generation due to COVID-19. How do you expect this will impact demand, inventories and expected purchases over the next couple of years?

With the reduction in demand offset the supply disruptions. And are there any concerns with delays in construction for new nuclear due to COVID-19.

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Well, thanks, Andrew, it's Tim. I'll take a shot at this one. I think there's a couple of questions embedded in there. First, on the electricity demand side. Yes, clearly, COVID had an effect on electricity demand. We see it in the different reports we get on a monthly basis. I'd say, especially right off the bat, we saw electricity demand drop very quickly when the confinement measures were put into place, I'd say, more on the industrial side than anything. In fact, on the residential side, I think demand went up. And so did they offset each other? I don't think so, but but it's been down. What we're seeing now, and I just saw an IEA report today that showed it's coming back. It's still down from pre-COVID levels, but in many countries, is recovered significantly. In fact, I saw in China, I think they're within 1% of of where they were a year previous to the COVID level. So I think that's good news.

A piece of good news on that one is that, as I said in my introductory comments, is that the nuclear share of the electricity being produced has gone up, especially in relation to fossil fuels.So hopefully, that's saying we're we're getting recognition as we said, a safe, reliable baseload power to power all of those institutions that we need to continue running, especially healthcare facilities in these days. And so nuclear is still strong. The effect on demand, we haven't seen it. We while we still had guidance out, I think I said we were selling 28 million to 30 million pounds. This year, that hasn't changed. We still have significant commitments. So our customers still are taking deliveries and still have to load their reactors with our uranium.

So I don't think there's a big effect on demand. I think the story you want to watch is supply, obviously. Through the COVID disruption. I think we've seen numbers in the 20 million and counting pounds that have been left in the ground. I think I saw the UFC a presentation the other day that corresponds pretty much with our numbers because we're we're the ones that have taken all of our production off at the moment. Kazaks, we've been in touch with Mr. Pirmatov as to what's going on in Kazakhstan. And they're having to disrupt their production and drilling there. So they're down a bit and maybe, I think, early on. So it's I say, it's 20 million in accounting. And that goes with the production we already took off, starting back in 2016 and rather in the U.S., and we pulled back McArthur and the Kazakh pulled back. And so there was already about 40 million pounds a year disrupted left in the ground.

So I'd say watch supply and watch it closely, you've got our friends at Ranger. We have about five months left, I think, in the life of their mine and mill there. Cameco Indonesia used to be responsible for that mine. And I think by the end of March next year, that one gone. And that's production that we've competed against, I guess, for many, many years, and that's not a supply disruption, that's gone from the market. And so watch supply construction, I think your last the last part of your question was on the construction delays. I think I looked at our numbers today, 54 units under construction around the world to add to the some 440 some that are in operation, that's a good number, and I don't think that's changed.

And I'll just say a word and then I'll stop, but if you remember, people can remember, and I know it's hard, five months ago, we weren't talking about COVID-19. We were talking about climate, climate change, CO2 reduction, greater keeping the temperature of the earth down. And it was huge. That hasn't gone away. It's been I think it's been dormant a bit as we work through the pandemic, but I think it's going to come back. And I think we have a miraculous opportunity here with the nuclear power as we move forward and rebuild the economies and bring the world back to the state, it should be in that to really push nuclear power ahead.

And I think we're getting a good hearing on that.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Tim. The next question comes from Brian McArthur at Raymond James. The uranium spot price increased substantially following the unplanned supply disruption announcements. However, it seems to have plateaued recently. What are you seeing in the spot market? How much material is available? Have you seen many utilities competing for the spot market material? And if the price is plateaued, is your activity holding it up?

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

So I'll start. I'll just say, I'm going to pass it over to Grant, who's in charge of everyone knows our marketing and finance and other departments. But I would just say we have not been sitting around doing nothing during this period. Our marketing teams have been extremely busy in the market. As you've seen by our purchasing activity, we've been in the market full-time every day since the pandemic started, and Grant is the best effort to answer the market question. So Grant, I'm going to pass that over to you.

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes, it's a great question then Brian raises. And plateau is a word that we've heard a few times because the price did respond quite quickly to the unplanned supply disruptions, up 35%, nearly $10. It may, in fact, have reset the expectations of what a low uranium price is before COVID, I think people below comment characterize through the year, there's no doubt about it. We now have said that our year-to-date purchases are 19.3 million pounds. So clearly, we're not the only activity in the market. We're not holding the market up when we're only a small portion of it. And in fact, even if you believe that 50% of the total volumes in the spot market are just meaningless trade or churn, it still suggests that there's other demand in the market, not just us. And so where is it coming from? Well, some of it has been utilities, discretionary purchasing in the spot market.

A lot of it seems to be producer purchasing to cover sales commitments due to the unplanned supply disruptions. And probably, it's important to remember that when a producer is in buying to meet a sales commitment, that is like fundamental demand. That is utility volume. That's material that's going to go to a utility and not come back into the market to be turned around. A little bit on how the spot market looks. I think for 2020, we're characterizing it as a year where there's just been a mismatch in the timing. Inflows of material coming in, that's mostly uncommitted produced material. We saw a lot of it destined for the market in the first half of the year.

And we think the outflows are really going to kick in, in the second half of the year. The normal material that needs to go up to meet deliveries plus any spot demand that comes into the market in the second half as it typically does. We've been pleasantly surprised to see that folks have been continuing to offer material. Despite the market uncertainty and despite the fact that everybody knows we're going to buy because we have to buy to meet our uncommitted sales. So the fact that that those have been willing to sell has been a bit of a pleasant surprise for us because it's allowed us to uptake prices somewhat less than the recent highs. And of course, our goal is to always buy as cheaply as possible.

But the other way to look at it is a plateau is also the social floor. So we've also been surprised to see there's been some resistance. Afters in our market who have maybe had a tendency to be quite desperate sellers have been more resistant and more stubborn with their offers, and that's good to see. All may be convincing us that maybe there's been a reset in the spot price.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Grant. The next question is also from Brian MacArthur at Raymond James. Can you comment on where the supply in the spot market is coming from?

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Grant?

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. I mentioned a bit earlier that that we sort of see the spot market this mismatch between inflows and outflows that the inflows are uncommitted production. You'll recall that last year, we began to say, this really isn't an inventory story. It's a story of uncommitted production that the sources appear to be and Namibian as well as some Australia. These are from producers that either have an offtake arrangement to sell to traders or they have a deliberate strategy to sell directly into the spot market. These are suppliers that a lot of them are state-owned or suppliers who look at the Iranian supply as a by product.

And so it's not a main driver for their production. And so we get this uncommitted production coming to the market. It's also the reason, by the way, that there's been a this recent trade policy focus on state-owned enterprises and the role that they play in providing material to the market in a way that might harm those who are trying to do it commercially. So we've been saying that this isn't a story of inventory mobilization. It's this uncommitted production. We've not seen any significant inventory mobilization. This is not a surprise for us because typically, inventories are less mobile in the face of tightening supply and rising prices. So that would be sort of where the how I characterize the supplies.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Grant. The next question comes from Andrew Wong at RBC. With stronger copper prices, is there any concern that it could incentivize more uranium byproduct production from Olympic dam now or in the future? And how might that impact the market outlook?

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Well, thanks, Andrew. It's Tim again. dam has been a competitor supplier producer of uranium for year decades now. And so we just assume that they're always going to be in the market and produce uranium and and that it's going to show up there. So I see we watch reports out of Australia that they're looking at increasing their copper production. I think they're about 200,000 tons annually, they're looking at moving up into the 300,000, 350,000 level and with a corresponding increase. But I remember we saw this back in about a decade ago and and there's a lot of concern then. And I'd say we would have been more concerned then because now if they do decide to go ahead, and I don't think they have and they have to do all their EIS work and all of that.

We probably might need the our aim by the time they get going. So I'll tell you one thing it does do. Is that it eliminates the need for any greenfield. When you've got the big horses shutdown, Cameco has got all of its production shut down. Cigar, MacArthur, Inkai, Mr. Pirmatov got a bunch of his production down in Kazakhstan and Olympic Dam perhaps bringing on some more production in the next whatever period of time. This will be an incumbent recovery where those come up first. And so we're not particularly looking at any greenfield, and the world just doesn't need it right now.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Tim. The next question comes from Oscar Cabrera at CIBC. The trade reporters are showing elevated spot market volumes, if the term volumes seem relatively modest. Are you surprised? What will it take to get utilities to find long-term contracts?

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Grant, do you want to talk about the long-term contract, I think?

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes, sure. And to be a bit selfserving, I would start with reminding folks that Cameco has had some success in the long-term market actually in 2019. And and we also talked about in 2020, our off-market activity. And just as a reminder, this is when utilities come to us directly. And we negotiate for either an extension of an existing contract or a new contract, but it isn't done through that competitive RFP process. So we've been characterizing it that, yes, the industry hadn't been achieving replacement rate term contracting. But Cameco had been enjoying it for a variety of reasons. Having said that, I think as probably focused on the competitive on market type contracting. And maybe helpful to break it into two perspectives. The perspective of our customers as we understand it. And then, of course, our perspective as a potential supplier looking to sell material.

So when we think about it from the customer's point of view, we have to acknowledge they've also been impacted by the pandemic. And we've seen them really focused on making sure that their plants are operating in a safe and reliable way and that they're meeting all the industrial protocols that they need to follow to keep people safe. We know that a lot of the effort of our utility colleagues has been spent, especially the U.S. ones on the Russian suspension agreement, making sure that their position is well understood with the U.S. Department of Commerce. So that's been taking a lot of time that would otherwise probably be devoted to thinking about procurement. So we think that there's a number of factors there that maybe are a bit distracting legitimate factors that are a bit distracting from the longer-term procurement, maybe be challenging for them to layer in those longer-term financial commitments that are, in fact, a supply agreement.

That said, from the customer's point of view, it's simply a matter of time. We have started to see some recent interest in the midterm market. That's that three to five year market as well as the the longer term market, which we kind of say is five plus, we've seen a number of utilities issue RFPs in the last week or two. So too early to tell if this is a start of a trend, but in any event, it is absolutely positive. And would make sense given all the supply uncertainty. But think about it from our perspective as well. Spot price is up with the planned and unplanned supply disruption. The spot price increase, which we talked about earlier, 35% increase, it has pushed up forward prices in the term market. We can see the UF6 price for the five year price at $38.50 trade tax long-term prices at 39. TradeTech has introduced a new production cost indicator, which, by the way, if you haven't seen it, I'd encourage everybody to look at the the study that Tradetech has done there to arrive at a $44.50 production cost indicator. All this means is that it's a more favorable environment for us to be negotiating the value of longer-term contracts.

So that takes a bit of urgency away from us. We want to be patient and make sure we're capturing as much of that value in those negotiations, too. So those two things, our perspective and their perspective, I think, suggests that that we're not ready to worry about the term contracting and where it's at. It does take time, but we'll see it. It's a matter of time and the conditions for us to be able to extract value to seem to be closing.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Grant. The next question comes from Loss Melander at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The spot price from UXC has closed the gap with a long-term price indicator, view this as a bullish

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Yes, that's a very good question. I don't think there'll be any surprise. And how I look at this, I view it as bullish. I mean, fundamentally, when when you can buy uranium today at the same price as it cost you to buy it in the future, it's a lot easier to turn your procurement focus to your run rate requirements out in time. There's no benefit now to buying it on the spot market versus the term market. So I think fundamentally, that closure of that gap makes it more likely that, OK, well, now it's the time to start thinking about those run rate requirements. It's probably behind why we're seeing some competitive RFPs come into the market.

There's also an operational issue that we can't overlook here. Spot market demand is simply more capable of reacting quickly to market developments than term demand. Term demand takes time. It takes time to figure out how much a utility is willing to procure and what their financial exposure is going to be and how they want to structure that agreement. And so as I mentioned previously, term demand is likely held up by a couple of other factors. And so between the two, I would say it's a bullish signal as opposed to a bear signal.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Grant. The next question comes from Greg Barnes at TD. How is activity in the midterm market holding up? Are you seeing less materials coming from carry trade activity?

I understand that Kazatomprom has stopped supplying material to the spot market and that this could lead to reduced material available to midterm market. Is that in fact happening.

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes, that's a good question, Greg. The with respect to Kazatomprom, I think they've been very clear on their spot sales discipline. And from what we can see, that discipline is real. Of course, there's Kazak origin material available, but I think it's made available through JV partners. Who take possession of the material, not from example themselves. So I think they can be trusted when they say that, that discipline is there. With respect to the carry trade, to some extent, we are seeing less. We had heard of a rapid decrease in trade activity as a result of the tighter credit markets when the pandemic and the economic closures began to first roll around. Some of the entities were not able to secure the financing. That was to back up that carry trade. So we saw some carry trade offers evaporate, which also contributed to spot demand.

In the early days of the pandemic unplanned supply disruptions. More recently, I would say, we're seeing some intermediaries attempting to reposition in this market segment, whether they're going to have success or not, we'll we'll wait and see. The closure of the spot term gap that we talked about in the previous answer, actually kind of eliminates some of the need for that carry trade activity. So we'll watch this very closely. But so far, it is playing less of effective than it has in the past.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Great. Thanks, Grant. The next question is also from Greg Barnes at TD. Utilities have had more pressing issues to deal with this year than long-term fuel procurement. But as a COVID crisis stabilizes, do you expect utilities to turn their attention to the term market, I assume that the WNA symposium will be virtual this year, will this have a negative impact on the typical uranium contracting cycle that happens around this time.

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Greg, it's Tim. I think I'm moment of it, but this will be the first time in 27 or 28 years that we haven't gone to to London for the kind of the first week in September for the WNA conference, it's like it's almost like the nuclear uranium calendar year that starts in September. And so you're right, it's going to be it's going to be different. The symposium will be virtual this year and then not seeing 800 of our best friends will be a bit tricky. But that said, life goes on and as I said earlier, we have been Grant, his team, the marketing team have been in constant contact with our customers through this whole pandemic piece, just staying in touch with them, stand by their side, letting them know we're there.

The discussion that we had started before the pandemic have continued through. It's kind of a tough time when you're trying to look after your employees and keep your clients open to be talking about five to 10-year contract, but that will come there. I was looking at uncovered requirements in this decade, and we're almost we're into it now at about 742 million pounds by our numbers, others would be close to them. I think if you go out another five years, to on double that. Those problems yet to be contracted. And so that work is going to happen at a time when supply is declining. So yes, it's going to be different this year and no WNA, but we'll find ways like we all are to stay in touch with our customers and business continues.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Tim. The next question comes from Brian MacArthur at Raymond James. How much material do you think have been removed from the market as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic related disruptions to production? What is happening with USAB and rossing mines in Namibia.

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. Thanks, Brian. And I have to say, well, we're not sure yet. I think I threw out a number of $20 million and counting is what we've counted so far. I guess we'll see how things go going forward to see how Cigar restart goes, see how gallon is able to manage things in Kazakhstan, see if there's a second wave comes down. So what we have done is those pounds have not come on to the planet. So yet the consumption is still going on. So there's 420 million pounds out of inventory somewhere because we won't make up that production, and that's added to the supply that we've already taken off the market at Cameco.

And as I said, as I said earlier, with Ranger and Cameco coming off in the next six to eight months even more coming off. So what's happening in Namibia? Don't really know. I don't get a lot of information out of the Chinese folks on those two operations. We know they're having issues right off the bat, but I understand their production is coming back. So yes, there's a fair bit of material already coming off the market. That wasn't planned. I mean, we plan supply disruptions, and we took down the card for a reason to down Robin Lake in the U.S., this one, we didn't really see coming until it hit us. And so it's been just added to the supply that's already been taken off the market.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Tim. This next question is one that we hear quite frequently. What is behind the pricing differential for material at Cameco, Courex and Converdyn?

Why would you not buy the cheaper location and transport to the higher cost location to capture the arbitrage opportunities?

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Yes, that's right. It's a question we've been hearing frequently. And I think the simple answer is that the market is currently at Cameco. I mean there's some nuance to it. But what we would point out is that that's where the material that is being required to service committed sales contracts is being largely procured from. When you look at the reasons why, well, you have a facility shutdown in the U.S. You have a facility in France that is still in the process of ramping up some questions about storage capacity about the acceptance of new material. So no surprise. There just tends to be a desire to to move material away from those locations and make sure it's a Cameco, why at Cameco? Well, because the fundamental demand is there. It happens to be our preferred location for all the purchasing we've been doing. I said earlier, year-to-date purchases of 90.3 million pound we prefer to buy at Cameco.

We prefer to buy a chemical because we're trying to meet our commitments. We have very specific product origin, product form, product location, delivery timing requirements. And it just so happens that these criteria are most often met at our own location, and we don't have an equivalent need for material at Converdyn or So that contributes to sort of the pressure at one location. Theoretically, you could use physical transportation to capture the differential, but it's difficult, it's time-consuming. It has a direct cost. Many of the intermediaries in our business just operate on the fact that this has largely been a book transfer market. So they actually have no expertise or capability in the physical transport of materials. So it sounds easy to do. It's not easy to do. This is Class seven nuclear material. So when we see the opportunity to take advantage of location differentials, we absolutely do. But first and foremost, it's meeting the needs for our committed sales portfolio, and they just so happened to be mostly met at Cameco. And in peers for others as well that are buying material for their committed sales portfolios.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Grant. This, again, is another question we hear quite frequently. How significant is the announced to the reduced mining activities in Kazakhstan. If things turn around there, how quickly can production come back on.

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

Well, I think it's very significant. Obviously, Kazakhstan represents at least today, 40% of the world production. So any kind of disruption in production there is significant for the for the world and the world uranium market. I have to tell you, and I say this on behalf of the team at Cameco, we've been super impressed with the leadership that and his team have shown in putting priorities on the workers and the health and safety of their workers and just making the right decisions we all have different pressures on us, but they have just absolutely focused on that. And I can think for JV by yes. Our team, our people are keeping them safe in So you might have seen that there were recent interviews that did one and Ergen Yusupov, both saying that they will take cautious prudent approach to restart.

It's going to be done slowly, cautiously but the longer they're down, the more challenging it becomes. And I know that summer months are important in Kazakhstan are here for us in Canada that ISR production is drilling, and you got to drill drill and then you can't get open with your drill spend in the summer and early fall, it's a significant impact on your production, not just in 2020 but also in 2021. And we've heard that from them. So we're watching that very closely. Obviously, we're in close contact with them is to our JV Inkai offerings, and we wish them the best there with their on the pandemic, and I guess we'll see hope from them in August.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Tim. And maybe just to follow-on at question. Because recently indicated that it may have to buy uranium in the spot market due to the production interruptions caused by COVID-19. Is if they are in the market at the same time as you are content with price uranium.

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

I'd say that's a bit of a Hollywood problem because that and perhaps to buy on others that we're never uranium running up as to our LOE, and we hope something like that would incite customers to come back and lock in contracts. And so they have some certainty going forward. So what happens but we all have contracts in place. And as does a good job of putting some long-term commitments in place that they have to fulfill with option on production, we have to do on probably so we'll see how that will work for the rest of the year.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Great. Thanks, Tim. It's a question we've heard recently. Why do you think you locate in UPC are selling your rock significance.

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

To let you

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

Well, I probably start by saying, you'll have to ask them because certainly can't speak to maybe make a couple of observations. We were a couple of years very would look, like we said, well, you're going to have to come back and I can probably expanded then Tier 2. As I built up that at the things I said was, we'll have to keep an eye on funds. And I got a lot of criticism capital funds. They'll never sell material. This is precisely the kind of behavior is thinking about. So it's just a reminder, these are financial entities. So there's no necessarily in the uranium space. The conviction is on the value of the fund and whatever backs it up is whatever backs up. So the like loaning material or selling material in order to support their net asset value. I mean, that they're not uranium suppliers.

So it's unfortunate to see them in a position of having good grade. We understand that the a broad environment of economic and market upset. They have objectives from a valuation point of view. Maybe reading into it a little bit, getting the own material that might actually indicate quite positive if traders are going to have to knock off these funds and offer them pretty to borrow material is that maybe the material is drying up for the traders if that business is happening. So some positives be read into that. And if I look down the road, we're buying back stock puts them in a better position to increase the uranium a broader market improvement occurs, and that could be supportive in the future. But it's just it is frustrating. It's unfortunate to see I think there wrong. We just try to look through what the impact could be on the market and they're pretty

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Grant. The next question comes from Cabrera at CIBC. What significant is the review of the Russian suspension agreement have the market and is Cameco a potential beneficiary.

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. I think it's a big deal. It's a big deal. How it turns out. And we're not sure how being under the existing American suspension agreement. I think Sean in told me for well over 20 years now. And it seems to have worked. And so we are putting a lot of time and effort into this. There's a lot of parties and on both sides of this issue, down in the U.S. So at Sean Quinn really focused on this for on I know nonstop teams meetings and calls And Chris, do you just want to comment on the process, the results will be what they are, just where we're at.

Sean Anthony Quinn -- Senior Vice-President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary

So happy to do that. Russian suspension agreement has been unformatted I think in in 1992 and came out of an anti dumping action started by U.S. uruanium produces back brand chemical uranian mine subsidiaries, power resources in Wyoming and resources in have been active participants in the discussions in inception back then, and that continues today. And I schedule and Russian product is subject to annual quota set at the 2010 U.S. reactor on in that range, as you mentioned, around, and people have got used to it. It's been something the part of the market in the U.S. for quite a bit [Technical Issues] hosted a nuclear scale working group report and various legislative initiatives all targeting the Russian share of the U.S. nuclear fuel market. In the U.S. Department of Commerce we've shown over these say on behalf of the U.S. government announced in February of last year, its intention to see that us ed significantly to the term running out until at least 2040, with an overall goal of reducing U.S. utility dependence on Russia.

Over that new extended term. So as we participate in this process, as you've mentioned, we hope to see these goals achieved over the period with perhaps even lower limits for the Russian origin uranium and constant conversion service as part of that, and an enhanced framework for the return of display speed associated with enrichment deliveries into the U.S. The current deadline for completing negotiations is October 5, 2020. And if an agreement is not reached by that date, the possibility exists that the importation of Russian uranium products to the U.S. will be subject to revived antidumping duties of a fairly significant amount. So I think, overall, and you mentioned this is our view is that reaching an agreement on the Russian suspension agreement extension between the and instruction counterparts would be beneficial for us and for the U.S. nuclear industry as a whole. So that's what we continue to focus here of itself portion.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Sean. The next question comes from Lawson Winder at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The conversion price has moderated somewhat in 2020 after searching in 2018 and 2019. Why is that?

Is there increased competition?

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes. I appreciate the question because we actually were drawing an analogy between what the conversion market was going through and what we suspected uranium might encounter. So good reminder to kind of close the gap on that one. I would just say, in general, conversion spot price has moderated as some of the panicked spot buying has decreased. So those who were caught out on conversion seem to have found the conversion they need. So we don't have that kind of immediate spot pressure in the market. The conversion term price has really sustained these higher prices after languishing at a very low level, way below production economics for many years, causing us to reduce our volumes causing probably causing the shutdown of the converting facility.

We've now seen a term price correction that was absolutely required in order to ensure long-term supply to meet run rate requirements. Is there increased competition? Not immediately. Obviously, we still have a situation where Port Hope is the is the only western converter that's up and running reliably right now at capacity or at it's target capacity. Facility in France that's ramping up. recently announced plans to to go from, I think, a target of 6,000 tons of conversion this year to 15,000 in 2022. So more capacity coming online. And of course, the condoning plant coming back is is overhanging the market right now in terms of the supply that's available out into the future for that service. But really, it's been the the correction in the term market that's notable and then pressure coming off the spot market because the panic buying has gone away.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Great. Thanks, Graham. Tim, this next question is one that we hear quite frequently. What are your thoughts on small modular reactor technology?

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Our big fans. Obviously, it seems to be really catching on a lot of hope out there that the SMRs are going to be kind of the next thing in the nuclear side that's going to kind of carry us forward. Not everywhere, we're still going to need large countries with large developing populations. You're going to still need large baseload electricity that come from bigger nuclear plants. But boy, there's sure a lot of interest in SMRs, including right here in our home province of Saskatchewan previous Scott Mo has been advocating for the SMR to have a strong look at it.

We have a joint venture, I think, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick are working together along with Bruce Power is involved, OPG is involved and just a lot of collaboration on SMRs. And we know that the nuclear regulator the CNSC and Madam Velti is looking today at, I think, 11 or 12 different models, which might be a few too many. I think we're going to have to kind of sort it down to one or 2, but it's exciting. I think it's exciting for the future. I think the question Chinese. We can catch up for Cameco, our interest is supplying the fuel for sure for the units, so manufacturing facilities in Ontario and the meaning we think there's a role great.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Tim. Our next question is pivot more toward Cameco specifically. The first one comes from Orizaba at

Why you just put it to restart items to be responding to the disruption. Do you expect slowdown as a result of the restart.

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

We knew that would be a question on the minds of many people. So thanks for asking it. Obviously a big news for us. First, I think we never intended to take it down. We had planned to run Cigar Lake this year. We wanted to produced by us, which are very economic, power and and that was a well is out is kind of disrupted our plants in that regard. So we formal decisions driven by health and safety factors. That was our driver. And so we've had it down now for four of the five months, five to six by the time we go and I'll restart working with our partners. We look at all the different options, and we cited it was in our best interest to bring it back.

We need the low-cost production infor contract portfolio, we don't see what we do every day is we're incurring $8 million to $10 million in care and maintenance costs was down when we bring it. It's not that we're spraying those problems in spot into our contract portfolio away all as a good time now. Let me be clear, that will depend on the availability of workforce, health and safety, our ability you get it to the site and work safety. And all of those things are still out there. They haven't done a way. But that's the decision we've taken and will everyone informs how that goes.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

The next question is also from Scotia Capital. What does the restart process look like? And what cost do you expect to incur? You have trouble clients in the workforce? And did you consider a phase to

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Yes, thanks a lot for the question. Appreciate it. It's an important question. So Brian Reilly, our Chief Operating Officer been working with his team on this, and I'm going to ask him to just make a few comments on our restart.

Brian Arthur Reilly -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer

Okay. Thanks, Tim. I'll take a question on workforce availability. We have retained our entire workforce securely on favorable intern maintenance period to 330 employees. Some have been required to to work at the set to carry out or maintenance activities, and many have been sent on the paid leave of absence and the smaller number, I've been able to work from home to support the care maintenance activity. So our expectation is the workforce will stand the overimpact on the various communities where we. In terms of our restart plan, we have a maintenance prior the first two weeks of September is the time we will record ones and contractors as required. The major of it is after a five month

The first production is for mid-September, we anticipate it all trucks transporting Cigar Lake mine at this time. It's important to note that the Cigar Lake asset resting point and its mine plan. As uranium growth decreases, we must increase or to meet production targets. So upon restart, the mine is transitioning from three development knittings to three new production tunnels in 2020. So this is not without some operational risk. We have an ambitious production target scheduled to 2020 at 10.6 million pounds, and we sell an base and significant costs upon us.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Okay. The next comes from Greg Barnes at TD. What protocol will need or resort are the community supportive of the restart.

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Greg, I'm going to turn it over to Alex on this one. So a she said a overexpose team in place for five months Cove restart team for Cigar Lake, and she's been leading the exercise has done a great job on this. So Alice, can I just give a bit of an up on kind of the protocols for following?

Brian Arthur Reilly -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer

Sure. Thanks, Tim. Happy to do that. So since the medic has started, we put in another of safety ventures across Cameco at all locations. And we are updating them as we need the is it and ensuring that our practices aligned with the latest guidance from government and publicities. So all Cameco's locations in general, we have people working form home There's no business to non essential contact. The and barriers are used it distancing is visible. And then there's increased disinfecting and cleaning. Now there are additional for Cigar Lake and all of our northern Saskatchewan sites, and this includes screening inbound and outbound flights, including temperature checks, preceeding in all common areas of the increased amortization on suite posttest achieved from it David control and limited sorry, capacity is in all vehicle and up and down the marine.

So while these measures have been in place for some time now. There's an adjusted we need to reflect workforce that's for required production. We will be indication with employees to ensure that they are well go to restart plant It is easy to follow show in the arrived site. So we can also drill. Which refer to Morgan community support for restarting Cigar we continue to have regular conversations with the Board and community leaders throughout the pandemic that we have experience. Now they're in interest now and returning to work, but community like an opportunity to provide feedback on our planning process. So we'll be working closely with the leaders over the coming weeks as we firm our restart plan. We try to make sure that they understand and are comfortable our plan, and we'll be working to address any potential concerns of a we can. It also recognized, as Tim has already said that the situation on COVID-19 continues to evolve, and we will move with adjusted plan

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Okay. This next question is a follow-on to the Cigar Lake restart questions. What would cause you to have a delay you have to delay the restart of Cigar Lake or not meet your production target. It is the risk that you would have to suspend production again after it has restarted.

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Well, obviously, the health and safety of our workers will be paramount every day. And so we'll be much mostly. We'll be watching Northern Saskatchewan and health professionals on that. So we don't want to have Cigar a restart, we want to restart and ramp up our production, but help of our workable paramount.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Next question is one that we have heard a few times now, and we just thought we would address it. We're hearing that the reset down the McArthur River too late was because you didn't have any ore available to keep mind. Is this And do you anticipate any problems with or availability when you go to re restart McArthur River?

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Well, I would just I would not saying that's absolutely We have secure in this country and others that we have to follow in our reporting. We follow those laws meticulously. We have to disclose everything we do, and we have done that. So it's not if that's been out there. Brian, maybe I'll turn it over or to give a little more cleanser than that.

Brian Arthur Reilly -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer

Thanks, Tim. I won't get too I just want to say, we have over 27 million pounds of then when we recommence operations. And that's 10 production areas available for restart. So we have enough ore supply years of operation. Any of them must be prepared or developed for future mining. And that is a normal course of business. I would point to go to our being to better understand our production schedules from McArthur River when we return to mining. I suggest you referenced our most recent I was a great piece of work. It was published in March of 2019. That outlines in some detail, mine development and production for the life of mine.

And in summary, the first year, as planned. It's focused on activities in terms of recruitment, training and commissioning of equipment. A mine target of 2.5 million pounds and a mill target of four million pounds package. And that's because we have an inventory of broken OR. year two, there are plenty of mining material available. But it will focus on development and particularly around Zone 4. Zone 4, it's complex. It comprises about 120 million pounds. We've mined out the lower portion and now spending more time in the upper portion. This is an area of about 80 million pounds, and we will approach this with a mass phrasing technology, a technology, we utilize that Cigar. We utilize at McArthur, and we're quite confident that the technology will prepare a Zone four future mining.

So look, I would suggest you if interested, refer to our technical report, and we're confident with the proper mine planning and the mine development that we'll be able to meet our production targets and production schedule, as outlined in the technical report when it's time to recommence activities at McArthur River.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Brian. The next question comes from Alex Pierce at BMO. Can you provide an update on the situation at JV Inkai, given lower production than planned, does this impact your share purchases from Inkai for the year?

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Well, Alex, yes, it's Tim. So as we said earlier, we don't know yet. I guess it's going to be impacted. I guess we don't just don't know by how much. We'll see what Mr. Pirmatov and the team is able to do their refiring up the well fields. But we just don't have the numbers yet, but we know we won't get the production that we thought we would this year.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Great. Thanks, Tim. The next question is from Oscar Cabrera at CIBC. Have you had any success in signing any of the prospective business in your contracting pipeline since you announced the Cigar Lake shutdown and Kazatomprom announced its curtailment due to COVID-19. What will it take to get utilities to sign long-term contracts? And do you think the structure of the market is changing to be more spot exposed.

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Grant, do you want to take that?

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

Yes, sure. It's a great question. And maybe I'm just going to draw on some of the observations I made a little bit earlier. So pointed out a few times now that Cameco's experience has been a little different than the general market experience and that we have been enjoying replacement rate level contracting, certainly in 2019. And then we in early 2020, pre-COVID we talked about having more negotiations under way in our pipeline than we've had since 2011. And this is still the case. It's not like COVID has caused a situation where one of our prospective customers just come back and say, well, I no longer need the material, but there are some things that COVID has created that may be delaying that. And I talked about that a little bit earlier.

Fuel buyers focused on the near term, making sure they've shored up the material, making sure it's available, that sort of triaging of their material to the plant site. The focus on the Russian suspension agreement as much time as we've spent on it. So as our customers certainly in the U.S. So that takes time away from some of these discussions. And then I just mentioned earlier that it takes time to get to the point of contract execution. So I would say nothing to announce or else we would have probably taken that opportunity here in Q2, but we remain optimistic. And especially because the conditions for us to be talking about long-term contracts are more favorable with the pricing dynamic and the pricing changes and referencing term indicators that are more favorable than they were pre-COVID.

So I think that we're really in a good spot there and continue to be in a good spot. And we don't see an urgency because we want to make sure that we're capturing as much value as you can as we can on that. The question about is the market going to snap over to one that's far more spot exposed. It's a good question. It's something we watch carefully because, of course, you don't want to be the company that sells all our forward in a term contract and then maybe misses a spot market that's far more robust later in the future. We still continue to see a desire from our customers to have the run rate material procured. Maybe more spot exposure for discretionary volumes, maybe a bit more spot exposure for inventory. But that run rate requirement under term contract seems to be remain an important driver. When we're in a world where unplanned supply disruptions are adding to plan, supply discipline, we tend to see actually more of a focus on security of supply than the less.

So again, it's probably one of the drivers that's brought some RFPs on market in the last couple of weeks. So we watch for those dynamics. But so far, we haven't seen anything that suggests there's going to be a wholesale shift over. Now I suppose that doesn't rule out the possibility that one could be forced. I mean you could imagine a fuel buying team, still very interested in making sure the run rate requirements are covered, but just being unable for financial reasons, to layer in the type of obligation that a long-term contract would require. We'll watch that very carefully as well. Haven't seen it to any great extent. So we still continue to be on our strategy of supply discipline buying in the market, backed up by a strong balance sheet in order to see the return of those term contracts that will layer in that value for us for the resumption of production at not just Cigar Lake, but also McArthur River.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Great. Thanks, Graham. The next question comes from Lawson Winder at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. What contributes that are interested in long-term contracting coming?

Has this changed since you began detailing production?

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Lawson, it's Tim. It's a bit of a trick question because if I tell you the country, you'll know the utility in about 85% of the guess is. I would just say it's Asia, Europe, North America, they'll grow it down to that. It's a customer that won't surprise you that we've been working with regional diversity board that

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Okay. The next question is one we get it very frequently. You've made a lot of purchases during Q2. How much left for the year are you intentionally building in inventory?

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Great? Well, is probably start with the last point there. No, we're not intentionally building an inventory. Part of that McArthur River initial shutdown was to work through a built that it happened because we were producing material driving part with the prices that were persisting at the time. we've made our negotiations difficult because there was probably a sand off where we're viewing that our priority was going to be was to becoming a problem for us. So we consult that by working through it. We potentially a big inventory and going back to that overall. During 1Q, we did purchase a lot we purchased a lot because with Cigar Lake coming down due to COVID plus some disruptive JV in with no about knowing what the exact impact would be against our committed sales portfolio, but we have a need by material. So we felt that it was a time for us to step in material that was available.

The resolve on that and whole of could have found something in a much different pricing environment and folks said, well, that's just and see how much Cameco really does want to buy. But half of the traders were and we were willing to pick it up because we got deliveries want to move there. So this is just after variation It would happen on the production side. We have a buildup of rate came in the door. The deliveries went out the door. Well, this year, it's just been a replace buildup is and then deliver will take it out the door. So no intention to build an inventory.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Then ext question is from RBC. Could you remind us on when tactics China run into? And what driving relates between Canada and China recently, do you have any concerns about renewing those contracts in the well

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Thanks, Andrew. Obviously, we walked in the situation between China and Canada, China and the U.S. So it's has been a big customer for us. I remember back 2010 in the presence of the Chinese President. And today, I think we signed for 52 million tons in one month, June 2010, where the price went from $43 to over the next couple of months. And so those contracts ran through, I think, 2020 and 2025. Our marketing team and company are China

They've been a reliable customer. So on a business, we've been doing fine and we plan to continue doing is with them forward. We just hope that political over the relationship can get cleared up, but that's outside of our purview.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Great. The next it appears at BMO. What are the next steps in the toric? When do you expect to get your recent cost award and financial payback? Is that already included in the cash on your balance sheet?

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Thanks, Alex. Yes, we're pretty happy. I can tell you, there are some pretty excited people around here when we got that decision, a unanimous decision from the Court of Appeal. So that's two courts, four judges now all on our side, and I credit to Sean Quinn and his team, our legal counsel, have done a really good job for us. So Sean, do you want to take this question? Just give us a little bit of a view forward on the CRA tax case?

Sean Anthony Quinn -- Senior Vice-President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary

Yes, sure. Happy to, Tim. And the answers are obviously and not surprisingly linked. When we get our refund and our financial capacity back depends on what happens next in the dispute. And in the first instance, it's up to the CRA in consultation with the Department of Justice to decide whether they're going to seek leave to appeal, the Federal Court of Appeal ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada. There is no absolute right of appeal in the Supreme Court gets decide what cases it will here based largely on a public interest type test. If the CRA decides to seek leave to appeal, and they have until mid-November of this year to do so, we estimate that the process of finding out whether they obtain leave or not will last some time into early 2021.

And if they successfully are successful there and they obtain, lead to appeal the estimate for the period to complete a hearing before the Supreme Court of Canada and get a decision is two years from the date of the Federal Court of appeal decision. If the decision by the try is not to seek leave to appeal or if they seek leave to appeal and are unsuccessful then the dispute for 05 and 06 is finally at an end and would be disposed of in accordance with the Federal Court of Appeal's decision. Specifically, Minister of National revenue would be required to issue new reassessments to Cameco for the three years in question, we would expect a fairly timely refund of the $5.5 million we've already paid for those years plus interest. We would also expect in a very timely fashion to receive our cost award. I think that a $10.25 million and the disbursements up to $17.9 million.

So that if the process plays out and the CRA makes a decision on it. So on. In the meantime, we're obviously advocating with the CRA that they should simply accept the decisions as is and move forward and get to the same resolution. Too early to tell how those discussions will play out, obviously. In regards to the specific question at the tail end of the tail end there about where is the top on our balance sheet. Probably not a question I should be answering, but I'm pretty sure it's not in cash. It's carried as a receivable at this time.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

The final question comes from Alex Pierce at BMO. Given your strong cash position, what are your plans for the cash when you get it back? Under what circumstances would you consider a share buyback, special dividend or increased dividend or M&A?

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Well, I'll start with the M&A. We certainly aren't interested in that. The last thing we need is some more greenfield right now, even the promise of that would, we think, create a bit of a headwind. So we are laser-focused on getting Cigar Lake back up and running. And someday, McArthur River still out there. And as I said earlier, we're hoping Galum and his team in Kazakhstan can can get their production going. And so we've got lots of idle Tier one production at the moment. Yes. So we are we have a super strong balance sheet at the moment. I think we have about $870 million cash. And then the Sean just mentioned the CRA piece is out there. There's another $303 million in cash and some letters of credit, we'd like to rip up at the right time. So yes, we could find ourselves in a very strong position.

And at that time, I guess, I'd ask Grant and the finance team to look at the options, if we had a good project to invest in, we would do that. We've got some good ones of our own in Australia and here in Canada that we won't look at. But we will not be the bank account of our owners. Learned that from Grant say that many times, and we agree with that. So we'd look at options to return the money to our shareholders and Grant and I ensure would come up with some options for us, which, of course, the Board would eventually decide what our best rod was. So that's kind of how our thinking is evolving. Great.

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Thanks, Tim. That concludes the Q&A portion of the call. So I'll turn it back to Tim for some closing remarks.

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Well, great. Rachel, thank you very much. With that, I just want to say thanks to everybody that's been with us on the call today. We always appreciate your interest and your support. These are interesting times for all of us, but I can say the company's we're in a strong position. We're excited about the future. We think the future looks really good. And as we wade through this period of uncertainty, we're going to continue to execute on our strategy and and we'll do so in a manner that we believe will make our business sustainable over the long term. So thanks, everybody, for joining us today. Stay safe, healthy and enjoy the rest of the summer. Thanks.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks].

Duration: 88 minutes

Call participants:

Rachelle Girard -- Director of Investor Relations

Timothy S. Gitzel -- President,& Chief Executive Officer.

Grant Isaac -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer

Sean Anthony Quinn -- Senior Vice-President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary

Brian Arthur Reilly -- Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer

More CCJ analysis

All earnings call transcripts

AlphaStreet Logo