Archive | Uranium

Oversupply prompts Kazakh uranium production cut (World Nuclear News – January 10, 2017)

Kazakhstan plans to produce 10% less uranium in 2017 than previously planned in response to ongoing oversupply in the uranium market, KazAtomProm chairman Askar Zhumagaliyev announced today.

In total, Kazakh uranium production for 2017 will be 2000 tU less than previously planned. The reduction is roughly equivalent to 3% of total global uranium production based on 2015 figures.

Kazakhstan’s uranium mining operations are either wholly owned by state-run company Kazatomprom or operated through joint ventures between KazAtomProm with international partners. The exact production levels for each mine and joint venture have been determined and approved by their respective management boards, based on the circumstances and economics of each operation, and vary from the 10% aggregate, KazAtomProm said. Continue Reading →

World’s Worst Commodity Radioactive for Investor Portfolios – by Joe Deaux, Natalie Obiko Pearson, and Klaus Wille (Bloomberg News – January 6, 2017)

No major commodity had a worse 2016 than uranium. In fact, the element used to make nuclear fuel has had a pretty dismal decade. Prices tumbled 41 percent last year, touching a 12-year low below $18 a pound in November, according to Ux Consulting Co., which compiles market data.

The slump was the seventh in nine years. The rise of nuclear power has slowed as utilities shifted to cheaper natural gas for new generators. And after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, safety concerns led big uranium buyers including Japan and Germany to shut down or decommission reactors.

“It’s the world’s best asset in the world’s worst market,” said Leigh Curyer, chief executive officer of NexGen Energy Ltd., a Vancouver-based uranium producer. “I don’t think there’s a mine profitable at current spot prices. This short-term spot price isn’t reflective of the cost of producing a pound globally.” Continue Reading →

France ready to save nuclear group Areva whoever wins presidency – by Geert De Clercq (Reuters U.S. – January 4, 2017)

PARIS-A government-led rescue of French nuclear group Areva and the wider atomic energy industry may cost the state as much as 10 billion euros ($10.45 billion), but political support is almost certain whoever wins the presidential election in May.

While taxpayers will ultimately pick up the huge bill, the main election contenders – from the Socialists and conservatives to the far-right National Front – broadly back the bailout, which involves splitting up Areva. (AREVA.PA)

On top of its dire financial state, Areva is beset by technical, regulatory and legal problems. But given its importance to a nuclear industry that generates three quarters of France’s electricity and employs 220,000 people, the next government probably has little choice but to stand by the scheme hatched under outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande. Continue Reading →

[Qubec Mining] “I would be surprised [if] someone [could] … raise capital right now to develop a uranium project until you know how this … will be settled” – by Staff (Mining Journal – December 20, 2016)

Junior Strateco Resources’ (US:SRSIF) looming C$200 million (US$150 million) court case against the Quebec government is expected to set the precedent for other uranium hopefuls.

Strateco is suing the provincial government for investment losses and punitive damages after its Matoush uranium project was blocked following years of preliminary work.

Strateco spent an average $20 million a year on Matoush between 2006-2012, The Globe and Mail reported, on the basis that uranium exploration and mining were allowed in Quebec. Continue Reading →

Arrested Development: How a high school student helped block Quebec’s uranium industry – by Damon van der Linde (Financial Post – December 15, 2016)

MISTISSINI, Que. — Hunting grouse on a snowy road that cuts through the forest north of his home in the Cree community of Mistissini, Justice Debassige reflects on why, as a 17-year-old high school student in 2012, he started a petition against a uranium exploration project 215 kilometres away.

“I read research on how it damages the land and the water, so that was what drew me in,” he said, while searching for birds down the road towards the now-shuttered site owned by Boucherville, Que.-based Strateco Resources Inc. “It’s something to really think about when we’re out here.”

Debassige said he couldn’t have imagined at the time that his petition would be the catalyst for a complete moratorium against exploration of the radioactive mineral across Quebec, result in a $200-million lawsuit by Strateco Resources against the government and pit the federal nuclear safety agency against a provincial environmental commission. Continue Reading →

Soviet Uranium Mines Still Have Deadly Impact in Kyrgyzstan – by Ryskeldi Satke (The Diplomat – December 13, 2016)

MAILUU-SUU, Kyrgyzstan — The remote town of Mailuu Suu in South Kyrgyzstan is known for a Soviet legacy that still haunts the local population of more than 22,000.

Residents of Mailuu Suu commonly say that the very first Soviet atomic bomb was made out of locally extracted uranium in the late 1940s. The township is surrounded by uranium tailings and radioactive dumps that have been of greatest concern to the country’s neighbor, Uzbekistan, for decades.

The gravest dilemma for the Kyrgyz government is related to the frequent landslides in the areas along the river of Mailuu Suu where the Soviet government kept radioactive waste from the uranium mining. The glaciers of the southern Tian Shan feed this river, which flows directly to the neighboring republic of Uzbekistan in the Ferghana Valley. Continue Reading →

Trump Could Fuel A Nuclear Energy Boom In 2017 – by James Stafford (Oil – December 06, 2016)

With Trump at the helm, sentiment gives way to practicality in the energy industry. For the vast untapped potential of the nuclear energy industry and the uranium that feeds it, this could contribute to a market-disrupting revival that no longer bows to fear and the politics of economy.

While there have been some oversupply issues keeping uranium prices down, the bigger problem has been negative sentiment rather than real fundamentals, but the Trump presidency will see through that.

Trump’s take on nuclear energy is quite simple. As he noted after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan: “If a plane goes down, people keep flying. If you get into an auto crash, people keep driving.” Now more than ever, demand for uranium appears to be assured. But more than that, it’s about to truly explode as a number of situations combine to form the new era of nuclear power. Continue Reading →

Tribes Call On Obama to Bar Uranium Mining in Grand Canyon Forever – by Tanya H. Lee (Indian Country Today Media Network – November 22, 2016)

The Havasupai, Hualapai, Navajo, and Hopi are among the tribes working with Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., environmental groups and other lawmakers to designate 1.7 million acres bordering Grand Canyon National Park as the Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument.

The designation would make permanent the 20-year federal moratorium on new uranium mining in and around the canyon put in place in 2012. At stake are a fragile watershed, extensive wildlife habitat and sacred and archaeological sites important to the tribes’ religious and cultural survival.

With elections less than a month away and a lawsuit brought by mining companies seeking to end the federal moratorium set for a hearing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in December, time is short. Continue Reading →

Uranium: the unloved metal whose price is poised to go radioactive – by Jon Yeomans (The Telegraph – November 20, 2016)

Last month, shovels hit the ground in a dry corner of western Spain, near the ancient city of Salamanca. Berkeley Energia, a mining company listed in Australia and on London’s junior AIM market, started work on a $100m (£80m) uranium mine.

The project hopes to create nearly 500 jobs in a depressed former mining region and tap into future demand for the heavy metal, which powers nuclear reactors.

To fund its plans, Berkeley recently raised $30m from a placing of new shares, winning support from funds run by the likes of Blackrock and JP Morgan. When it opens in 2018, the mine will be one of the lowest-cost uranium producers in the world – and the only such mine in Europe, turning out 4.5m pounds a year. Continue Reading →

Fact Checker: The facts behind Trump’s repeated claim about Hillary Clinton’s role in the Russian uranium deal – by Michelle Ye Hee Lee (Washington Post – October 26, 2016)

“Hillary Clinton gave them 20 percent of our uranium — gave Russia for a big payment.”
— Donald Trump, campaign rally, Oct. 25, 2016

“Remember that Hillary Clinton gave Russia 20 percent of American uranium and, you know, she was paid a fortune. You know, they got a tremendous amount of money.”
— Donald Trump, campaign rally, Oct. 24, 2016

“She even handed over American uranium rights to the Russians.”
— voice-over in Trump campaign ad, “Corruption”

Hillary Clinton’s involvement with a Russian uranium deal has come under scrutiny since author and Breitbart News senior editor-at-large Peter Schweizer dedicated a chapter to the topic in his 2015 book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.” Continue Reading →

Cameco and the CRA head to court over potential $2.2-billion tax dispute – by Ian Bickis (Financial Post – October 4, 2016)

The world’s largest publicly traded uranium company will clash in court this week with the Canadian Revenue Agency over a potential $2.2-billion tax bill.

At question is whether Saskatoon-based Cameco Corp. set up a subsidiary in low-tax Switzerland and sold it uranium at a low price simply to avoid tax, as the CRA contends. Cameco maintains it was a legal and sound business practice.

For the uranium producer the case presents a serious risk of impact to its bottom line, as the CRA looks to shift an estimated $7.4 billion in foreign earnings between 2003 and 2015 back to Canada. Continue Reading →

Cameco to court over tax bill ( – October 3, 2016)

Canada’s biggest uranium producer, Cameco, is set to appear in court on Wednesday to dispute accusations of setting up a subsidiary in Zug, Switzerland for the purpose of avoiding taxes.

Canada Revenue Agency contends whether the Saskatoon-based corporation wanted to dodge its fiscal duties by signing a 17-year agreement in 1999 with its Swiss arm to sell uranium at the fixed price of about US$10 per pound.

The practice is seen as ‘unfair’ given that the price of uranium rose to over US$130 a pound by 2007 and, despite the fact it has been in a steep downward trend ever since, still trades at over US$20 a pound today. Continue Reading →

Desperate uranium miners switch to survival mode despite nuclear rebound – by Geert De Clercq (Reuters U.S. – October 3, 2016)

LONDON – The nuclear industry is gradually recovering from its post-Fukushima slump, but excess capacity keeps uranium prices at record lows, forcing mining companies to mothball mines, slice costs and cut debt as they struggle to survive.

In the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, Japan closed its nuclear reactors, which accounted for some ten percent of the more than 400 reactors operating globally. Several other countries including Germany announced plans to exit nuclear, and in the past three years several nuclear reactors in the United States were closed as they could no longer compete with cheap shale gas.

Five years later, only three of Japan’s 42 reactors are back in operation but new reactors brought online in China and other countries have partly made up for the Japanese closures. Continue Reading →

Activists: Old uranium mines polluting Angostura – by Staff (Rapid City Journal – September 22, 2016)

Members of three activist groups say recent research shows that abandoned uranium mines are contributing to elevated uranium levels in Angostura Reservoir in the southern Black Hills.

The research was recently published in the journal Environmental Earth Sciences by authors that included two South Dakota School of Mines & Technology scientists, Rohit Sharma and James Stone. The article is titled “Stream sediment geochemistry of the upper Cheyenne River watershed within the abandoned uranium mining region of the southern Black Hills.”

According to the Clean Water Alliance, Dakota Rural Action and It’s All About the Water, the research shows that elevated uranium levels at Angostura are partly caused by human activity, including abandoned uranium mines and a former mill at Edgemont. Elevated uranium levels at Angostura Reservoir are comparable to the elevated uranium levels upstream in the Cheyenne River watershed at abandoned mines, the groups said. Continue Reading →

Excerpt from Sun Dogs and Yellowcake: Gunnar Mines – A Canadian Story – by Patricia Sandberg

To order a copy of Sun Dogs and Yellowcake: Gunnar Mines – A Canadian Story, click here:

Patricia Sandberg was formerly a partner at DuMoulin Black, a Vancouver law firm acting for mining companies listed on Canadian and international stock exchanges. Her clients had mining operations in Canada, the United States, China, and Latin America. Three generations of her family, including Patricia as a child, lived at Gunnar and her grandfather spent thirty years working at mines run by Gilbert LaBine, Canada’s “Father of Uranium.”

Shooting the Elephant

Re-enter Gilbert LaBine, some twenty years after his radium score and now sixty-two years old. LaBine, in his nominal positions as president and director of Eldorado, was well informed about Eldorado’s moves in the Beaverlodge area. He was also not averse to conducting a little business of his own.

His first foray was with a highly competent, experienced pilot named John “Johnny” Nesbitt, who had spent his life flying in Canada’s north country, including for Eldorado and its Great Bear Lake operations. When Eldorado switched its focus to Lake Athabasca, Nesbitt added the Beaverlodge operation to his flight path. Continue Reading →