Published on Sunday September 04 2011
ASX-LISTED African uranium producer Paladin Energy is looking to bring in partners to speed up work on its global portfolio of development projects.
The Perth-based group revealed in an investor briefing yesterday that it had eight ''genuine inquiries'' from potential joint-venture partners and it was a ''reasonable aim'' to have something finalised by the end of the calendar year.
But the prospect of big-spending joint-venture partners picking up the pace on the development of Paladin's uranium deposits beyond its present two African mines failed to excite the market.
Shares in the company weakened 3.5¢ to $1.99, continuing the slide from the $5 a share that Paladin commanded before investor confidence in uranium stocks was undermined by the partial meltdown at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant in March.
Paladin managing director John Borshoff told the investor briefing that introducing joint-venture partners to fund new developments would achieve growth in a much less costly manner. ''This program of monetising some of our non-producing projects with third-party engagement for minority interest[s] was always on our agenda,'' he said.
''We are positioned to make Paladin a partner of choice and this is reflected in the interest and the intensity of discussions we are having.''
Mr Borshoff said that while uranium prices had weakened following Fukushima, the future of the global nuclear power industry was assured. The effect of Fukushima on demand would be minimal, he said.
Demand for uranium would be driven by nuclear programs in China, Korea, India, Russia and the Middle East.
Mr Borshoff said Japan itself would take a ''pragmatic approach'' and return to nuclear to reduce its ''vulnerability and risky exposure'' to energy supplies.
Paladin's executive general manager of marketing, Dustin Garrow, tipped in the briefing that uranium prices were set to rise. ''Over the last three or four weeks, we've started to see a noticeable increase in interest in the term market, both in formal requests as well as off-market inquiries,'' Mr Garrow said.
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