The Global X Uranium ETF (NYSEArca: URA), which tracks uranium miners, fell 8% last year, extending a multi-year run of negative finishes. That leaves uranium bulls, of which there are plenty, hoping for better things in 2017.

Uranium remains controversial even five years after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan. In response to the fallout, anti-nuclear activists have aggressively petitioned courts to block restarting the plants. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also been a vocal nuclear power proponent, arguing that atomic power, which generated almost one-third of Japan’s electricity pre-Fukushima, helps diminish the country’s reliance on expensive fossil fuel imports.

With nuclear energy industry looking brighter, uranium demand is expected to rise. According to the World Nuclear Association, the number of new nuclear plants due to go online this year and in the next three years is expected to total around 40, and more are planned in the years ahead, mostly in Asia, writes Lawrence Williams for Mineweb.