Uranium Market Movement Slow, but Strong
By Melissa Pistilli
Uranium market news was sluggish heading into the holidays, but signs that the world is moving toward increased reliance on nuclear power are evident across the globe.
Russia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a nuclear cooperation agreement to share technology, equipment and nuclear material in an effort to help the Gulf nation meets its goal of acquiring 25 percent of its energy needs from nuclear power. The UAE has signed similar agreements with Australia, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea and France.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is headed to the US House of Representatives and includes $150 million in funding for the American Centrifuge Plant (ACP). The plant, located in Piketon, Ohio, is an advanced uranium-enrichment facility that is being developed by USEC (NYSE:USU). The ACP’s “capacity will be equal to about one-third of the fuel requirements for the commercial power reactors in the United States, which provide approximately 20% of the U.S. electricity supply today,” according to USEC’s website. The NDAA is expected to pass both the House and the Senate and be signed by President Obama by the close of this year.
Of course, no mining sector is without roadblocks. Following news that Australia’s environment minister, Tony Burke, has delayed a final decision on environmental approval for Toro Energy’s (ASX:TOE) Wiluna project in the state of Western Australia (WA), Australian Uranium Association chief executive Michael Angwin called for the regulatory process to be reformed. Specifically, Angwin is concerned about the “discriminatory treatment” of the uranium industry under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and the doubling up of state and federal approval processes — prior to the delay, WA Environment Minister Bill Marmion had approved the Wiluna project.
On Monday, Virginia Energy Resources (TSXV:VUI) announced its listing on the OTCQX under the ticker symbol VEGYF. “We are proud to join OTCQX, the highest OTC marketplace,” stated Walter Coles Jr., executive vice president of Virginia Energy, in the press release. “We are committed to providing our U.S. investors with timely news and information to help them better analyze, value and trade our securities.”
Virginia Energy’s wholly owned, advanced-stage Coles Hill uranium project is located in Virginia, where the state government is debating whether or not to lift a 30-year ban on uranium mining. Coles Hill reportedly contains measured resources of 3,260 tonnes of U3O8 and indicated resources of 42,800 tonnes U3O8. The largest-known untapped uranium deposit in the United States and one of the largest in the world, the deposit has an estimated worth of $10 billion and holds enough uranium to power all the nation’s nuclear plants for nearly two years. The company is also pursuing an active uranium exploration program in Quebec’s Otish Basin.
Energy Fuels (TSX:EFR) reported its results for the 2012 fiscal year, calling the past 12 months a “transformational year” for the company, which “attained a dominant production and resource position within the uranium sector’s single largest market, the United States.” Highlights for the year include sales of 447,000 pounds of U3O8 at an average realized price of $55.83 per pound.
European Uranium Resources (TSXV:EUU) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Slovak Republic’s Ministry of Economy. The MoU pertains to the advancement of the Kuriskova uranium deposit, which a recent preliminary feasibility study shows could be developed as an underground mine and could become one of the world’s lowest-cost uranium producers. The MoU highlights the importance of this deposit to Slovakia’s energy needs; the Eastern European nation is the third-largest per capita user of nuclear energy in the world — more than 50 percent of its electricity is generated by nuclear power. European Uranium also began trading on the OTCQX under the ticker symbol EUUNF.
AREVA’s (EPA:AREVA) majority owned SOMAÏR uranium mine in Northern Niger recently set a new annual production record for the second year in a row, producing a total of 2,700 tonnes of uranium. The company attributes the record production to heap-leaching technology, which allows for the processing of low-content ore. “This new performance, which contributes to the growth of our mining activities and secures the uranium supply, rewards the work accomplished by the SOMAÏR’s team and the employees of the mining BG,” stated Olivier Wantz, senior executive vice president of the company’s mining business group, in the press release.
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