Uranium prices have taken a turn for the worse due to a combination of factors that pulled the floor from underneath the commodity.
Back in November 2014, prices spiked from $28 per pound to $44 per pound. This was largely due to the sanctions imposed on Russia after the annexation of Crimea, thus portending a supply shortage.
But the price is currently close to $35 per pound. And technical indicators are pointing south once again……..
France was so confident in its atomic energy capabilities that, about 10 years ago, the French nuclear establishment made a bet on a new generation of reactors using European pressurize reactor (EPR) technology. These reactors were touted as the safest and most powerful ever made.
But, France isn’t living up to its promises. New plants that would ostensibly showcase the most cutting edge of nuclear energy prowess are years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget. Some are as much as three times more expensive than the original cost projections! At this point, many are questioning if they’ll ever be completed.
Plus, The New York Times reported on April 7 that one reactor, the Autorite de Surete Nucleaire, had discovered imperfections in the steel used by Areva (AREVA.PA) to make the caps of the main reactor vessel.
The caps contain the extreme heat, pressure, and radiation produced by nuclear fission. These same parts were used for a plant under construction in Taishan, China, which is being built in partnership with France……http://www.wallstreetdaily.com/2015/05/15/uranium-commodity-concerns/
Why believe Tor’s spin when:
Uranium prices have slumped again, with no recovery in sight?
Improved uranium price triggers drilling at a Central Australian prospect, ABC Rural, NT Country Hour 15 May 15 Nathan Coates “…….Drilling at the Wiso Project 150 kilometres north-west of Barrow Creek started this week and is expected to continue for two months.
Managing Director of Toro Energy, Vanessa Guthrie, said the joint venture project with Areva Resources is the result of surveys co-funded by the Northern Territory government. “The work that has commenced this week is a drill program,” she said. “We are targeting a sandstone hosted uranium paleochannel.”………She said environmental approval to start exploring near Barrow Creek had two levels.
The uranium that we might produce would be likely to go to the growing Asian markets of China and India and the mature markets of Korea and Japan. “Of course we needed Traditional Owner agreement which we’ve secured,” she said. “We also have the mine and exploration plan which was required by the Northern Territory government.”
Ms Guthrie said Toro Energy had in the past gone through environmental approval processes and they were very similar to those in the Northern Territory.
She added that the approval processes for uranium mining in the Northern Territory were “well established and quite mature.”…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-12/improved-uranium-price-triggers-drilling-in-central-australia/6463570
The concerns come as Greenland Minerals and Energy, an Australia-based mining outfit, closes in on final approval to begin production rare earths, a mineral vital for use in modern technologies……
in order to extract rare earths, GME will also need to mine uranium as a by-product, and that has raised fears, particularly among farmers, sheep farmers and those making a living off tourism, that dust from the open-pit facility will taint the region’s soil and water, and in the process spoil the region’s image. Continue reading
Malawi warned against reopening uranium mine http://www.ventures-africa.com/archives/62631 May 12, 2015 – The World Bank has warned Malawi against reopening its only uranium mine, saying the project should be put on hold until global prices improve.
Australia mining company, Paladin Energy, is developing Malawi’s only uranium mine, the Kayelekera uranium mine, in Karonga, northern Malawi. The project was initial suspended in 2014 because of the then unfavourable price climate, but there are indications that the company plans to resume operations in the coming months. “Whether or not the mine at Kayelekera eventually resumes operations will depend primarily on future prospects for global uranium prices, for which the immediate outlook is uncertain,” the World Bank told Malawi in its latest report.Uranium from mining is used almost entirely as fuel for nuclear power plants.
In 2013, Malawi was ranked as the third largest producer of uranium in Africa and tenth in the world. It is behind Namibia and Niger in Africa.
Last year, uranium global prices crashed to $36, from $51 per pound. This posed a major setback to Paladin Energy Africa, having invested heavily on the premise that prices will climb to $70. The Kayelekera uranium deposit was discovered by UK’s CEGB firm and a feasibility study was subsequently undertaken in the 1980s. Paladin acquired the deposit in 1997, accepted a Bankable Feasibility Study early in 2007, and, following environmental approval, undertook a $220 million development. The mine was opened in April 2009.
Paladin Energy (Africa) Ltd holds Paladin’s 85 percent interest following the Development Agreement with the Government of Malawi in control of the remaining 15 percent. Kayelekera production commenced in mid-2009, and in 2012 production reached 1103 tU, followed by 1134 tU in 2013.
Malawi: Paladin Starts Discharging Uranium Wastes Into Public Rivers, AllAfrica, By Bishop Witmos Karonga April 23: Few months after Paladin Africa Limited differed with civil society organizations (CSOs) and some chiefs in Karonga over the disposition of uranium wastes into public water, the company has started discharging the effluent into Sere River.
Paladin Africa Limited, a member of the Paladin Energy group of companies, suspended its operations at Kayelekera Mine in the district in May, 2014, due to unstable uranium prices at an international market. The project is now on care and maintenance.
Malawi News Agency (Mana) has established Paladin invited Paramount Chief Kyungu and the District Commissioner (DC) for Karonga, Rosemary Moyo, to a meeting in Lilongwe early April this year (2015),to brief them about the company’s recent decision.
Paladin Africa Acting General Manager in Malawi, Greg Walker, confirmed in a telephone interview that the company, indeed, started releasing the uranium wastes into the public rivers………
Sere River flows into North Rukuru River, then into Lake Malawi.
When asked why the company decided to brief Paramount Chief Kyungu and the Karonga DC about their action in Lilongwe instead of explaining it to the general populace of Karonga, Walker said the company conducted enough meetings with relevant authorities in the district……..
Despite the decision by Paladin to start discharging its effluent into the public water, some people in the district feet it would have been safer if the company had constructed another dam where the wastes would be transferred into.
Chairperson for Karonga District Council, Patrick Kishombe, said in an interview the plan to release the waste water from the storage dam into Sere River is raising fears amongst communities who feel the water is not fully treated and could be a health hazard.
“This, I believe, will lead into many hazards, like killing of fish in Lake Malawi and may also cause skin cancer to some people,” said Kishombe.
Uranium contains gamma rays, particles that cause skin cancer to human kind, according to experts.
In developed nations, mining companies construct a stable tank that stores all the wastes, ready for transportation to recommended disposal sites. ……http://allafrica.com/stories/201504231621.html
Paladin uranium output slumps THE AUSTRALIAN, 24 Apr 15 Paladin said today production at the group’s Langer Heinrich mine during the March quarter had slumped 10 per cent from the December quarter to 1.23 million pounds of uranium oxide.
Media banned from Rio Tinto’s ERA AGM after concerns about uranium mine rehabilitation, ABC News By Joanna Crothers 14 Apr 15 Media outlets have been banned from the annual general meeting of a Rio Tinto-owned company that operates the Ranger Uranium Mine in the Northern Territory amid concerns the company does not have enough money to rehabilitate the site once it finishes production.
The mine, near Jabiru which is surrounded by Kakadu National Park, 230 kilometres east of Darwin, is run by Energy Resources of Australia (ERA).
ERA is majority-owned by mining giant Rio Tinto. Ranger Uranium Mine is one of Australia’s three operating uranium mines.
On Monday, the NT Environment Centre said it had “major concerns” ERA would no longer be able to afford the full cost of rehabilitation, estimated at $512 million, due to suffering substantial losses over the past few years.
The company reported a $136 million loss for the 2013-14 financial year which was an $83 million improvement on the previous year.
ERA has said rehabilitation is funded under its current business plan, but if a proposed underground mine known as Three Deeps is not developed it may require another source of funding to pay for all of the rehabilitation works.
Environment Centre spokeswoman Lauren Mellor said she would raise these concerns at ERA’s AGM being held in Darwin today. Media have been told they cannot attend the meeting, even without recording devices, despite journalists having been able to attend previous ERA AGMs.
Speeches from the AGM have been published on the ERA website.
On Monday, Ms Mellor said she wanted to know whether parent company Rio Tinto would cover costs of rehabilitation should ERA be unable to pay.
“We’ll be asking to board of ERA whether they believe that the parent company, who does have the financial capacity to achieve rehabilitation, should be held responsible in the event that ERA no longer has the money to achieve this huge cyclical challenge of rehabilitating Kakadu National Park.
“What we’ve been seeing is Rio Tinto as a major shareholder, which is certainly not short of cash in the way that ERA is, trying to deflect criticism and attention and its corporate ties to this particular project and sidestep that responsibility.”……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-14/concerns-rio-tinto-era-wont-pay-for-ranger-mine-rehabilitation/6390600
Any attempt to extend the lease will be controversial.
As colleague Peter Ker reported in February, the traditional owners seem pretty wedded to the idea that mining stops in 2021 and rehab is completed by 2026.
Ranger’s community issues stretch well beyond its sometimes fractured relationships with its local hosts, the Mirarr people. An extension will become an issue of serious contest across a sweep of the environmental movement both because of what it mines (uranium) and where it is (inside the Kakadu National Park).
Rio Tinto worried about ERA’s Ranger uranium mine http://www.afr.com/business/mining/uranium/rio-tinto-worried-about-eras-ranger-uranium-mine-20150402-1mctl1 by Matthew Stevens
The fate of Energy Resources Australia hangs in precarious balance with majority-owner Rio Tinto growing increasingly uncertain about the competitive economics and investment risk of a life-sustaining underground expansion at Australia’s most productive uranium project, the Ranger mine.
Rio owns 68 per cent of ERA and the Australian-listed uranium miner’s only operating asset is Ranger, a 30-year-old mine of occasionally extreme controversy.
Mining at Ranger’s open pit stopped more than two years ago and production is currently sustained by legacy stockpiles.
The longer future of ERA swings on an underground project called Ranger 3 Deeps, which has been the subject of $200 million in pre-feasibility investment over the past two years alone and requires up to $60 million more before a final investment decision might be secured. Continue reading
Lake Way flooding proves Wiluna unviable http://www.robinchapple.com/lake-way-flooding-proves-wiluna-unviable 27 Mar 15, (Good photos) After yesterday flying over Lake Way to see the extent of flooding in the area, WA Greens spokesperson on uranium Robin Chapple MLC has expressed deep concern about the future of proposed uranium mining on the lake bed.
Chapple says water could increase the risk at Toro, Kalgoorlie Miner, 26 Mar 15 Mining and Pastoral MLC Robin Chapple has expressed concerns about plans to mine uranium in Wiluna after the “flooding” of Lake Way.
His comments came this week after a flyover revealed what Mr Chapple termed flooding on the lake bed. Toro Energy plans to store radioactive tailings from the proposed Wiluna uranium mine — up to 100 million tonnes — in the mined-out Centipede and Millipede pits, which will also be on the lake bed and are now underwater. The company has cited flooding as a non-issue, claiming the lake to be a natural drainage point, according to Mr Chapple.
Mr Chapple said the extensive flooding at Lake Way raised serious concerns about Toro’s ability to manage water effectively while mining on a lake bed. “I do not believe this company has properly accounted, nor planned, for potential flooding to the extent we have seen this week at Lake Way,” he said
“Not only would floodwaters of this magnitude carry radioactive material to other parts of the ecosystem, but on drying out could potentially release large quantities of oxidised uranium … into the atmosphere.
Mia Pepper Nuclear Free Campaigner Conservation Council of Western AustraliaAbout the flooding of Lake Way – the proposed site for the “Wiluna uranium project” including three pits on Lake Way. We’ve raised the issue that Toro Energy want to store about 100 million tonnes of radioactive tailings in two mined out pits on the lake bed (Centipede and Millipede) – the Department of Mines and Petroleum haven’t yet approved or even seen a tailings management plan from the company. We are focused on making sure the tailings don’t end up in this lake!
French abandon Far North uranium prospects DANIEL BATEMAN THE CAIRNS POST MARCH 18, 2015 ONE of the world’s largest uranium producers is pulling out of the Far North following the State Government’s renewed ban on uranium mining.
Minister for State Development, Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham has said a statewide prohibition will once again be put in place over uranium mining, forcing several companies to shelve development plans.
Areva had been exploring in the Karumba and Carpentaria basins since about 2012.
Areva Resources Australia managing director Joe Potter said the company would not be applying for new exploration tenements in Queensland in the near future, in light of the recent state policy changes and general downturn in the uranium market…….
Australian Conservation Foundation Northern Australia program officer Andrew Picone welcomed the return of a ban and the departure of Areva.
“The fact that Areva have pulled up stumps in Queensland’s Gulf only illustrates the market’s global contraction,’’ he said. http://www.cairnspost.com.au/business/french-abandon-far-north-uranium-prospects/story-fnjpusdv-1227266987603
Slow uptake of NSW uranium exploration licenses http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-18/slow-uptake-of-nsw-uranium-exploration-licenses/6328100 By Jacqueline Breen, 18 Mar 15, Only one of the six companies invited by the State Government to apply for a uranium exploration license has done so. The ban on mining uranium in New South Wales remains in place, but the Coalition has lifted the ban on exploration.
Last year the government invited six companies to apply for licenses to explore for deposits around Broken Hill, Cobar and Dubbo.
Only EJ Resources has submitted an application, seeking three licenses to explore north of Broken Hill.
The other companies–Australian Zirconia, Callabonna Resources, Hartz Rare Earths, Iluka Resources and Marmota Energy–did not apply before the government’s March deadline passed. When the government announced the shortlist last year Resources Minister Anthony Roberts said the state needed a “stock-take” of its uranium resources.
“This will allow us to understand fully what the uranium reserves are in New South Wales,” he said.
If EJ Resources’ license application is successful, the state government’s Division of Energy and Resources said only low impact monitoring that doesn’t disturb land can be carried out, unless further approval is sought.
The division said a land access agreement with landholders must be in place before any exploration begins.
The Newman Government announced it would overturn the long-time ban on uranium mining in 2012 and opened applications in August 2014.
Queensland’s Mary Kathleen Mine, near Mount Isa, closed in 1982, seven years before uranium mining was banned in the state……..
a spokesman for the new government said uranium mining would once again be kiboshed in Queensland.
Andrew Cripps ( Mines Minister in the previous Liberal government) said it would not have any impact.
“The Department of Natural Resources and Mines has not received one single application for a uranium mining lease since the previous LNP government’s regulatory framework for uranium mining started on 31 July 2014,” he said……………http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/labor-says-no-to-uranium-mining-in-queensland-20150313-143pzi.html
Cameco’s Kintyre uranium mine in Pilbara conditionally approved by WA Government ABC News By Ebonnie Spriggs and Lucie Bell, 5 Mar 15 A proposed uranium mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region has been granted conditional environmental approval by the State Government……Cameco Australia, is proposing to construct and operate the Kintyre open-cut uranium mine 270 kilometres north east of Newman.
The joint venture project with Mitsubishi Development would include an airstrip, processing plant, waste rock dump, tailings storage facility, offices, accommodation and a haul road.
The company plans to truck uranium oxide concentrate from the site, at the western edge of the Great Sandy Desert in the east Pilbara, to the Port of Adelaide.
WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob has now conditionally approved the project.
It is understood Kintyre will be subject to conditions including those relating to mandatory reporting, the protection of fauna, public availability of data and radiation risks……
It is understood the project will now be subject to approval by the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who is expected to respond within 30 days. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-05/kintyre-uranium-mine-in-wa-pilbara-gains-conditional-approval/6284264
The draft terms of the reference for the royal commission, released on Monday, are focused on nuclear power generation, uranium enrichment and waste storage. But the government has ruled out scaling back the state’s involvement in uranium mining, while also precluding the use of nuclear for military purposes.
Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney says the decision to exclude consideration of uranium mining is deeply disappointing. “The nuclear industry starts with uranium and so should any genuine assessment of the nuclear sector in South Australia,” he said.