Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lynas Corps Malaysian Rare Earths Radiation Concerns Unfounded

Published on Sunday May 29 2011 (AEST)-Australia

Handphones riskier than Lynas ore, says Pahang MB

Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob today said concerns over Lynas Corp’s Gebeng refinery were exaggerated, claiming the public have more to fear from cell phones than the rare earths to be processed there.
“There is nothing really...handphones have more radiation,” the Pahang mentri besar said during an MCA retreat here today.

Adnan accused Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers, specifically PKR’s, of “creating fears” about safety issues and blowing the matter out of proportion.

“PKR is smart, they are using the nuclear issue in Japan, radiation... of course people are scared,” he said.

Adnan added that the federal government should have “nipped the problem in the bud” when the issue first arose, by countering PKR’s attacks against the plant’s construction.

“In Lynas, we made a mistake... to the point where MCA ever tried taking over the role of the opposition,” said Adnan.

The Pahang MB, however, refused to add anything further during a press conference later.

“I don’t want to prejudge anything... I advise that you do the same, don’t write about Lynas, let the independent panel evaluate,” he told reporters.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Liow Tiong Lai, who was also present during the press conference, repeatedly stated that the safety of Malaysians was of paramount importance, and that the Najib administration would not “compromise the safety of its people.”

Green groups here and in Australia have lobbied their respective governments to scupper the project ahead of Lynas Advanced Materials Plant LAMP’s September start date, citing the company’s opaque plans on waste storage and transport management between the Mount Weld mine in Western Australia and the Gebeng refinery.

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has expressed “grave concern” that waste products could wreak harm on those living nearby.

The association, representing the country’s 13,000 doctors, stressed that the possible health risks presented by radiation from “extremely toxic” thorium outweighed the economic benefits from the project.

Lynas is among the world’s biggest suppliers of rare earths, a group of minerals vital in the manufacture of high technology goods that are ecologically friendly but create toxic by-products in the process.

The RM700 million LAMP is expected to be the world’s largest and most sophisticated upon completion.

Chinese Rare Earth Metals Prices Soar

The three to fivefold jump in prices since January comes after China, the world’s biggest producer of rare earths, has clamped down on domestic output.

The implications could be far-reaching. Although annual consumption of the metals is small relative to that of other commodities, rare earths are found in everything from fluorescent lights to wind turbines. They are very difficult, if not impossible, to substitute.

Industrial buyers are in shock after witnessing the price of rare earths such as cerium oxide jumping 475 per cent in just five months, amid falling supplies.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” says one US-based purchaser of rare earths. “People are trying to wriggle out of using rare earths in any way they can, whether by developing new products or finding substitutes.”

Rare earths came under the spotlight after China, which produces more than 90 per cent of the world’s total output, started to reduce export quotas two years ago. Beijing’s influence aroused concern when exports of rare earths to Japan were temporarily suspended after a diplomatic dispute.

Following that de facto embargo, governments around the world, particularly Washington and Tokyo, have stepped up their efforts to develop other sources of supply. But those efforts will take years. In the meantime, Beijing has tightened regulations on its own polluting rare earths sector as part of a programme to clean up Chinese mines. Many expect China’s rare earth production to fall as a result.

As China cuts further export quotas – this year’s overseas sales licence is 4.5 per cent lower on an annualised basis than last year’s and more than 40 per cent below the 2009 quota – global demand for the metals has been growing.
Beijing has also clamped down on smuggling, which at one point accounted for about one-fifth of total sales, further squeezing the global market.

Statistics collected in Hong Kong show exports of rare earth metals have halved over the past year to reach just 1,819 tonnes last month. At the same time, the value of exports has soared to more than $121,000 per tonne, a 10-fold increase from a year ago.
Traders say that Chinese customs officials are policing exports and require that sales contracts match an internal price list, known by some as the “secret price”. They say sales of rare earths are quicker, but that offers are withdrawn more often because of rapid price moves.

Li Miaoling, general manager of China Metallurgical Import and Export Group, a Guangdong company, says: “Since the end of year, customs has been adjusting their price list every week. We’ve had to add a clause to our contract stating that if customs raises prices, we will have to adjust.”

The cost of neodymium oxide, which is used in permanent magnets and wind turbines, has risen more than threefold this year, hitting Rmb850,000 per tonne, according to Antaike, the Beijing-based commodities consultancy.
Dysprosium oxide, used in lasers, has jumped 338 per cent since January to Rmb4,700 a kilogramme, an all-time record. Even prices for the most common rare earths, such as lanthanum, used in hybrid car batteries, have risen sharply.
Users have been scrambling to find alternatives. Hybrid carmakers are accelerating the development of lithium ion batteries. Toyota, for example, is developing an induction motor for electric cars that uses fewer rare earth magnets.
Chemical companies, also big consumers of rare earths, have been developing alternatives. Albemarle, the US-based chemical company, recently introduced a new line of low rare earth fuel catalysts, citing a 1,500 per cent increase in the cost of lanthanum in the last 12 months.

With China planning to reduce output, manufacturers are braced for a sustained period of high prices. In February, Premier Wen Jiabao outlined a “five-year plan” for rare earths that included increased state oversight, raising environmental standards, a crackdown on smuggling, the closure of illegal mines and consolidation of rare earth producers. A new environmental code for rare earths mines will come into effect in October and Beijing has halted issuing new licences for the mines.

“China has been rectifying the rare earth industry, taking environmental protection and other things into account,” Lin Donglu, secretary general of the Chinese Society of Rare Earths, says. “Rare earth output will definitely be reduced.”
Yin Jianhua, rare earth analyst at Antaike, says: “Over the next five years China will probably continue reducing exports.”

This shift in policy follows similar policy changes on other commodities. Beijing has launched an industry-wide “consolidation” process for coal over the last two years, which has dampened output and forced China, once an exporter, to import large amounts of coal, pushing up prices.
China has also purged illegal and environmentally damaging mining of antimony, a metal used in fireproofing goods. The crackdown on antimony has pushed the cost of the commodity to a record high.

In the face of concern from industry and from global capitals, China has insisted that it will continue to be a reliable supplier of rare earths. However, rising prices fit neatly with China’s ambition to end its role as supplier of cheap rare earths to the world. As Mr Lin of the Rare Earths Society says: “Prices of gold, oil and other commodities are all high. Why should the cost of rare earths not be high, too?”

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Uranium Shares Gain On First Positive News In Months

Published on Saturday May 28 2011 (AEST)-Australia

An announcement by Traxys North America that it will buy the uranium the US Department of Energy (DoE) planned on selling will take out a large portion of the nuclear fuel that would have ended up on the spot market, pressuring prices.

The first bit of good news for the uranium sector since the Japanese disaster in March sent share prices higher, and analysts said it was a “very positive” development.

“They’ll (Traxys) probably roll that material out of the spot into long-term contracts,” an analyst said on Friday, asking not to be named.

RBC Capital Markets on Thursday said the agreement amounted to around 11-million pounds of uranium from now until the end of 2013.

“This represents 9,8% of non-mine uranium supply and 2,2% of total uranium supply over the 2011 to 2013 time period,” analysts Adam Schatzker and Fraser Phillips said in a research note.

It equalled around 7% to 8% of yearly spot market volumes, the unnamed analyst calculated.

Importantly, Schatzker and Phillips wrote that many power companies might have planned on buying some of the DoE’s uranium, and would now have to “reassess their uranium purchasing plans”.

Uranium share prices responded to the news positively across the board.

Ur-Energy was up 19.05% on Friday afternoon, trading at C$1,75 a share, while Mega Uranium gained 14.58% to reach C$0,55 a share, Laramide Resources gained 12.10%, Denison Mines gained 9.05%, UEX Corp gained 10.28%

The bigger, already producing companies showed more modest gains, with both Uranium One 2.15% and Cameco adding 1,7% to their share prices on Friday.

The DoE had previously planned to auction the uranium hexafluoride to pay for the cleanup of a decommissioned enrichment facility, which had created an overhang on uranium prices.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fukushima Plant Suffered Triple Meltdown

Published on Wednesday May 25 2011 (AEST)-Australia

ENGINEERS IN Japan’s ruined Fukushima nuclear plant have revealed it suffered a triple meltdown in the four days after being battered by a huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11th.

The news confirms fears that reactor three, which contains controversial mixed uranium-plutonium fuel, known as Mox, was among the casualties of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Mox is considered thousands of times more toxic than uranium nuclear fuel.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said yesterday that most of the nuclear rods inside reactors two and three had melted and fallen to the bottom of their containment vessels. Last week the company admitted that most of the fuel rods in reactor one had melted after the plant’s cooling systems were knocked out.

“The situation inside two and three is almost the same,” said Tepco spokesman Yoshimi Hitosugi last night. The company said the fuel in reactor three took about 60 hours to melt. The reactor melted down 100 hours after the magnitude nine quake struck.

Critics suspect Japan’s largest utility concealed the extent of the damage to the five-reactor complex in the immediate aftermath of the disaster to avoid causing panic, a charge Tepco denies. “Of course we assumed that there had been a meltdown inside the reactors but until we could confirm the data we were unable to release this information,” said Mr Hitosugi.

About 100,000 people have been forced to evacuate the area around the complex. Acting under advice from Tepco, the Japanese authorities only slowly expanded the evacuation area in March, from an initial 3km radius to 20km.

Villages outside the zone are this month being emptied of their populations to escape radiation.

Thousands of Fukushima residents confronted government officials in Tokyo this week to demand they reverse a decision to raise by 20 times radiation limits for schools in the area. The decision, which raises radiation exposure on children from 1 to 20 millisieverts per year – the maximum permitted dose for German nuclear workers – has caused bitter controversy.

“It’s already two months since the accident and our children have been exposed to so much radiation,” said housewife Mika Okano.

“It’s the government’s job to protect young people. Instead, they’re putting them in danger to defend nuclear power.”

Japan’s ministry of education has promised to review the decision in the summer holidays, but many parents said that would be too late. “Would they send their own children to live in Fukushima?” asked Sumie Kojima? “It’s shameful that they would do this. They should evacuate everyone from the prefecture.”

Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Japan yesterday on a fact-finding tour . Among the issues they will be examining is the huge and growing stockpile of radioactive water – about 80,000 tons – pumped from the reactors, which Tepco engineers are struggling to reprocess or dump.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Alliance Resources (AGS) And Gippsland Ltd (GIP) To Search for Uranium In Jordan

Published on Wednesday May 18 2011 (AEST)-Australia

Jordan will sign an agreement next month with Australia’s Alliance Resources Ltd. (AGS) and Gippsland Ltd. (GIP) to explore for uranium in the southern parts of the kingdom, the Jordan Energy Resources Inc. said today.
The Jordanian government, which plans to build at least one nuclear reactor, plans to ratify the agreement with the Australian companies soon, said Fakhruddin Daghestani, director general of the state-run company.

Exploration on a 22,000 square-kilometer (8,500-square mile) stretch of land will start about a month after the signing of the agreement, he said in a telephone interview from Amman. The prospecting and exploration works are due to last for two years after which a feasibility study will determine whether the area will be open for commercial mining, he said.

Jordan, which relies almost entirely on imports for energy, aims to attract $14 billion in energy infrastructure investments and plans to develop more of its own resources, including renewable energy and oil shale as well as nuclear power. The kingdom has signed cooperation accords with 10 countries to prepare for the construction of the nuclear reactor. The government estimates it has 70,000 tons of Uranium deposits.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Paladin Energy May 17 - 2011 Conference Call

Published on Tuesday May 17 2011 (AEST)-Australia

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Peninsula Energy Discovers High Grade Uranium and Molybdenum

Published on Thursday May 12 2011 (AEST)-Australia
Peninsula Energy (ASX: PEN) continues to expand the company's uranium and molybdenum exposure across several continents, with the latest high grade hits coming from Site 22 in the Karoo project, in South Africa.
Highlights from the latest round of reverse circulation drilling include:

- 2 metres at 3,625 parts per million (ppm) U3O8 and 2,560ppm molybdenum from 21 metres;
- 2 metres at 3,102ppm U3O8 and 2,549ppm molybdenum from 10 metres; and
- 0.5 metres at 8,420ppm U3O8 from 9 metres.

The holes sampled to date are located in the western portion of the historic drilling area, with assay results from 38 holes received with the results confirming a widespread distribution of molybdenum in association with uranium.

Peninsula said due to the positive correlation and grade of the associated Molybdenum Peninsula is extending the reverse circulation drilling program to encompass the entire historic drilling area.

These results suggest there is potential to delineate a significant level of molybdenum with very favourable implications for the economics of the project.

Across Peninsula's Karoo projects, exploration potential remains as in addition to the existing resource drilling, ten high ranking drill targets distributed across all six of the company’s project areas have been prioritised from the 392 uranium occurrences generated by the 2008 helicopter-borne radiometric and magnetic surveys.

This process has included site mapping, ground sampling and aerial extent studies of the project areas conducted by Peninsula over the last 3 years.

The Karoo region is highly prospective and is located around 400 kilometres from Cape Town, with the Karoo Basin known as a uranium and molybdenum mineralised province, and is host to several historically defined ore bodies.

These include Ryst Kuil containing around 40 million pounds of U3O8, and Riet Kuil reported to contain around 10 million pounds of U3O8.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Black Range Minerals Limited (ASX:BLR) Commences Drilling At Hansen Uranium Deposit

Published on Thursday May 05 2011 (AEST)-Australia

Black Range Minerals Limited (ASX:BLR) is pleased to advise that it has commenced its inaugural drilling program at the ~30 million pound Hansen Uranium Deposit1 in Colorado, USA. The Company holds exclusive rights to acquire 100% of the Hansen Deposit.

The Hansen Uranium Deposit is located immediately adjacent to the Company's 100%-owned Taylor Ranch Uranium Project, which hosts JORC Code compliant indicated and inferred mineral resources of more than 60 million pounds of U3O8.

A JORC-compliant resource is yet to be finalized for the Hansen Deposit. However, from the abundance of work undertaken at the Hansen Uranium Deposit previously, including approximately 1,000 drill holes and three mining feasibility studies, it was reported that the deposit hosts in the order of 15-20 Mt of mineralised material at a grade of 0.06-0.08% U3O8 for circa 30 million pounds of U3O8. As a mineral resource is yet to be calculated for the deposit under the JORC Code, this quantity and grade of mineralisation is conceptual in nature and is an exploration target, and it is uncertain if further exploration will result in the determination of a mineral resource of this size. 

The combined Taylor Ranch/Hansen Uranium Project is one of the largest uranium projects within the USA.

Hansen Uranium Deposit - Background

The Hansen Uranium Deposit was discovered in 1977. Approximately 1,000 holes were drilled previously to define the deposit. Mineralisation is hosted by a flat-lying sandstone sequence, with the high-grade portion of the deposit being up to 45 metres in thickness.

Three feasibility studies into the development of the Hansen Deposit were completed between 1979 and 1981. These studies concluded that the deposit could be viably developed by way of open pit mining. All permits necessary to mine the deposit were subsequently issued; however, mining never eventuated because the global uranium price collapsed shortly after permits were awarded.

Objectives of the Current Drilling Program

The Company and its consultants have undertaken an extensive review of the historic feasibility data acquired at the Hansen Deposit. In order to update these previous studies the Company has initiated this 10-12 hole diamond core drilling program (approximately 3,000 metres) to acquire additional metallurgical, geotechnical and hydrological data at the Hansen Deposit.

The drilling program is expected to continue for approximately three months. Data acquired will then be analysed to update the previous feasibility studies to pre-feasibility accuracy. Further development plans will then be formulated.

Mine permitting activities will continue throughout this drilling program.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Energy Metals Secures Approvals For Uranium Export Business

Published on Wednesday May 04 2011 (AEST)-Australia

Australian Safeguard and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) has given Energy Metals permission to possess uranium ore concentrates for export to overseas customers, the ASX-listed junior said on Wednesday.

The company now has all the necessary regulatory approvals for its newly launched uranium exports business, which would focus mainly on purchasing uranium ore from existing Australian mines for export and re-sale into China
Energy Metals said China represented a significant potential market for Australian uranium, with 13 nuclear reactors in operation and a further 28 under construction.

“To date, sales of Australian uranium to China have been modest with only 3% of Australia’s 2009 uranium exports purchased by China. However, the unique relationship between Energy Metals and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Company (CGNPC) presents a significant opportunity for Australia to capitalise on this rapidly growing and increasingly important market,” the company said.

CGNPC is Energy Metals’ largest shareholder, with 60,6% of the company’s issued share capital.
“The proposed export will provide extensive commercial benefits to both Australia and individual Australian states and territories involved in the form of increased economic activity, government revenues and export earnings,” Energy Metals added.

The company noted that the proposed export business also presented the company with a significant commercial opportunity, with the potential for early cash flows to fund the development of the company’s current projects, as well as future acquisitions in the uranium industry.

The uranium developer has nine projects located in the Northern Territory and in Western Australia, covering just over 4 000 km2.

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