Uranium stocks got hammered last year in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
But now, roughly one year later, uranium mining stocks have finally begun to bounce back... just like we told you they would.
After getting pummeled in 2011, shares of Cameco Corp. (NYSE: CCJ) - the world's second-largest uranium miner - are up more than 30% this year.
But that's just the beginning.
These stocks are all still about 50% below where they traded prior to Japan's disaster.
And rising demand for nuclear energy and a dearth of uranium supplies will soon conspire to push these companies back to their pre-Fukushima levels.
You see, uranium miners cannot expand their operations – or even tread water – with uranium prices at $50.00-$60.00 per pound like they are currently.
They'd much rather have uranium prices of $70.00-$80.00 per pound. So right now there's not enough uranium being produced to keep up with growing demand.
About 170 million pounds of uranium was consumed last year, but only 140 million pounds was produced. And when you look at the way nuclear power projects are coming back online, it's obvious that the discrepancy will only get worse.
Global use of nuclear energy could increase by as much as 100% in the next two decades, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
A Nuclear Renaissance
In spite of the Fukushima disaster, the number of planned nuclear plants in the past year rose from 156 to 163. In fact, globally, the number of nuclear reactors is still on track to swell from 434 today to 820 by 2030. And 96 reactors are set to come online by 2021.
China will be the driving force behind this growth. China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, thanks to a battery of carbon-dioxide-spewing coal-fired power plants.
Indeed, coal supplies 80% of China's power. And the fact is, windmills and solar panels don't have enough juice to power a country home to more than 1 billion people and the world's second-largest economy.
That makes nuclear power the country's best option.
China is on track to build up to 100 nuclear reactors – nearly a quarter of the global total – by 2030.
Twenty-seven of those plants are already under construction, and an official recently told the China Daily that plans for "about 10" plants put on hold last year would soon be green-lit for construction.
China isn't alone, either.
Many other countries around the world are putting their nuclear power programs back on track.
India has announced plans to grow its nuclear power capacity from 5,000 megawatts to 63,000 megawatts by 2030. And even smaller countries in Europe, such as Poland, France, and Great Britain are pushing ahead as well - much to the consternation of some of their neighbors.