Friday, February 24, 2012


Published on Friday February 24 2012 (AEST)

Excellent insight into bringing BLR's Hansen/Taylor Uranium Project into Production by BLR's Managing Director Anthony Simpson.

Direct Link Image to 15.50 Minute 
Audio Presentation

Borehole Mining

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New South Wales Opens Door To Uranium Miners

Published on Wednesday February 15 2012 (AEST)

LEGISLATION to allow mining companies to explore for uranium in NSW will be introduced to Parliament after state cabinet agreed to overturn a decades-old ban.

The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, and the Minister for Resources and Energy, Chris Hartcher, will announce the decision today, arguing it will help boost the state economy.

''It is time for NSW to look at every opportunity to join the mining boom, which is delivering enormous profits and jobs to Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia," Mr O'Farrell said.

He said the first step was to establish the scope of uranium deposits in NSW. The ban on exploration has prevented a clear understanding of potential deposits but the government says it is aware they may exist around Broken Hill.

''We are not about to rush into mining uranium until we have carried out the necessary environmental and exploration checks and have had a mature and sensible discussion about utilising this resource, but we would be crazy not to look at whether this is a viable industry which would deliver jobs and revenue to NSW,'' Mr O'Farrell said.

The opposition and the Greens oppose the decision, saying Mr O'Farrell is betraying his earlier opposition to uranium exploration in the state.

The Herald revealed last year that Mr Hartcher was considering dumping the ban, after a meeting with the Australian Uranium Association in June.

Mr Hartcher and Mr O'Farrell initially denied they had plans to overturn the ban, but Mr O'Farrell told a conference in December that the government would ''review'' the ban, describing it as ''hangover legislation from the 1970s''.

He linked the decision to the announcement days earlier by the federal Labor Party to overturn its ban on uranium exports to India.

The legislation will pass the Legislative Assembly, where the government has an overwhelming majority, but will be opposed by Labor and the Greens in the upper house, leaving its passage in the hands of crossbench MPs from the Shooters and Fishers and Christian Democratic Party, who share the balance of power.

The Opposition Leader, John Robertson, condemned the move to overturn the ban.

''This is a massive backflip by the Premier, who only months ago declared his emphatic opposition to uranium mining and exploration in NSW,'' Mr Robertson said.

''The people of NSW didn't vote for Barry O'Farrell so he would set up uranium mines in their backyards.''

The Greens mining spokesman, Jeremy Buckingham, said Mr O'Farrell did not take the proposal to the election. ''He should seek a mandate before repealing the prohibition,'' he said.

A campaigner with Greenpeace Australia, Julien Vincent, said the decision was ''obscene''.

The chief executive of the Australian Uranium Association, Michael Angwin, said recent uranium mining approvals by the federal government showed uranium projects could meet stringent environmental standards. ''[The approvals] have emphasised a lack of credible threat to the environment,'' he said.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

U.S. Approves 1st Nuclear Reactors Since 1978

Published on Friday February 10 2012 (AEST)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The nation's first new nuclear power plant in a generation won approval Thursday as federal regulators voted to grant a license for two new reactors in Georgia.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 4-1 to approve Atlanta-based Southern Co.'s request to build two nuclear reactors at its Vogtle site south of Augusta.

The vote clears the way for officials to issue an operating license for the reactors, which could begin operating as soon as 2016 and 2017.

STORY: Regulators approve nuclear reactor design

The NRC last approved construction of a nuclear plant in 1978, a year before a partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania raised fears of a radiation release and brought new reactor orders nearly to a halt.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko voted against the Vogtle license, saying he wanted a binding commitment from the company that it would make safety changes prompted by the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan.

"We've given them a license. They have not given us any commitment they will make these changes in the future," Jaczko said.

The meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant led to a series of recommendations by the NRC to improve safety at the 104 commercial nuclear reactors in the U.S. The changes are intended to make the plants better prepared for incidents they were not initially designed to handle, such as prolonged power blackouts or damage to multiple reactors at the same time.

The changes are still being developed, though Jaczko said it is clear that they will be required by the NRC before the new reactors open in 2016 or 2017.

Despite his opposition to the license, Jaczko called the vote "historic" and a culmination of years of work by Southern Co. and the NRC.

Southern Company Chairman and CEO Thomas A. Fanning called the NRC vote "a monumental accomplishment for Southern Company, Georgia Power, our partners and the nuclear industry."

Fanning said the company was "committed to bringing these units online to deliver clean, safe and reliable energy to our customers."

"The project is on track, and our targets related to cost and schedule are achievable," Fanning said.

Marvin Fertel, president of the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry lobbying group, said the NRC vote "sounds a clarion call to the world that the United States recognizes the importance of expanding nuclear energy as a key component of a low-carbon energy future that is central to job creation, diversity of electricity supply and energy security."

Allison Fisher, an energy expert for the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, called the NRC's action — less than a year after the Japan crisis — a step in the wrong direction.

"It is inexplicable that we've chosen this moment in history to expand the use of a failed and dangerous technology," she said.

While other countries such as Germany are reversing their commitment to nuclear power, "the U.S. is approving new reactors before the full suite of lessons from Japan has been learned and before new safety regulations that were recommended by a task force established after the meltdown crisis at Fukushima have been implemented," Fisher said.

The NRC approved a new reactor design for the Vogtle plant in December. Utility companies in Florida and the Carolinas also plan new reactors that use the same design by Westinghouse Electric Co.

The planned reactors are remnants of a once-anticipated building boom that the power industry dubbed the "nuclear renaissance."

President Obama has offered the Vogtle project $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees as part of its pledge to expand nuclear power.

Obama and other proponents say greater use of nuclear power could cut the nation's reliance on fossil fuels and create energy without producing emissions blamed for global warming. A new government permit process strongly encourages utilities to use pre-approved reactor designs rather than building custom models, a strategy intended to make construction easier and less expensive.

The once hoped-for boom has been plagued by a series of problems, from the prolonged economic downturn to the sharp drop in the price of natural gas, due in part to improved drilling techniques that have allowed energy companies to tap previously unavailable underground shale formations.

The Vogtle project is considered by many observers to be a major test of whether the industry can build nuclear plants without the delays and cost overruns that plagued earlier rounds of building decades ago.

Close on the project's heels is South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., which is seeking permission to build two reactors at an existing plant in Jenkinsville, S.C.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

VIDEO Peninsula Energy Chairman Talks About Production In 2012/13

Published on Wednesday February 08 2012 (AEST)

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Friday, February 3, 2012

RARE EARTHS - Demand To Exceed Supply Beyond 2012

Published on Thursday February 02 2012 (AEST) 

Non-China, or rest of world (ROW), rare earths production is expected to increase tenfold between 2011 and 2016 - that is, from 6,000 tonnes a year to 60,000 tonnes. This will approximate ROW demand of 55,000 tonnes, within total global demand of 160,000 tonnes.

That was the headline from Dudley Kingsnorth’s latest REE forecasts presented at the Technology Metals Summit in Toronto. It was delivered by video link from Perth. Kingsnorth, of Industrial Minerals Co. of Australia, was formerly project manager at the Mt Weld REE mine under its previous owner and is now the newly appointed professor at the Centre for Research in Energy and Minerals Economics at Curtin University, Perth.

Looking forward to 2020, Kingsnorth forecasts global demand for rare earths of 200,000 and 240,000 tonnes. ROW demand will have increased to between 70,000 tonnes and 90,000 tonnes a year, which represents a 50 per cent increase in the market (compared with 2016) and should be readily available to ROW producers. China’s export quotas will probably stabilise at about 25,000 tonnes a year; with a focus on supplying heavy rare earths demand, which are very scarce in ROW.

Over the past 12 months, under the influence of a weak global economy, high rare earths prices and the uncertainties about ongoing supply from China, global demand has fallen from 125,000 tonnes to 105,000 tonnes REO.

On a broader plane, however, with the announcement by Lynas that approval by the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board has been received, the industry has breathed a collective sigh of relief. For consumers, diversity of supply is close at hand; for aspiring producers, the Lynas approval demonstrates that gaining support for the disposal of the associated radioactive waste is not an insurmountable issue.

Another point made by Kingsnorth in his presentation: China will not directly deny rare earths to the ROW but it will take whatever measures are necessary to maximise value-add manufacturing in China using those REE.

He believes that continuing high prices would mean that efforts to substitute, recycle and replace REE use in new applications would be ongoing. Meanwhile, heavy rare earth production will be constrained so prices for neodymium, europium, dysprosium, terbium and yttrium will remain strong.

In keeping with past forecasts he believes that the lack of supply-demand balance in 2016 as illustrated in the table below will be a major issue (in tonnes):

   Demand--------------------------- Supply

Cerium:                60,000-70,000 -----------75,000-80,000

Neodymium:        25,000-30,000----------- 30,000-35,000

Europium:           625-725 ------------------ 450-550

Dysprosium:       1,500-1,800--------------- 1,300-1,600

Terbium:              450-550------------------- 300-400

Yttrium:               12,000-14,000----------- 9,000-11,000

In 2016, he believes only three mines can be assumed with certainty to be in production - Mountain Pass, Mt Weld and the Indian REE project involving Toyota; four others are on the possible/likely list: Steenkampskraal (Great Western), Kazakhstan (the Summit Atom Rare Earth Company established by the Kazakh government and Sumitomo), Dubbo (Alkane Resources) and Dong Pao (Vietnam with Toyota involvement). He adds that, of all those, only Dubbo has 25 per cent-plus of scarce HREEs in its mix.

Kingsnorth also argues that China has adequate REE to meet its own needs. There are reserves of somewhere between 30 million and 50 million tonnes, along with processing capacity of more than 200,000 tonnes a year, of which between 40 per cent and 60 per cent is idled for either economic or environmental reasons, but which has the potential to be restarted.

Moreover, the state-owned enterprises in the REE sector have announced large capital spending programs. However, the country’s HREE reserves are finite: somewhere, possibly, between eight and 12 years.

However, Kingsnorth sees potential problems for China as it pursues current REE policies. One is that industry consolidation being imposed from above could create an oligopoly. The other is that if environmental legislation is enforced too strictly then the industry could be downsized such that it will not be able to meet. While this is unlikely, it highlights the title of Kingsnorth’s presentation “The Rare Earths Industry: A Delicate Balancing Act”.

The emerging ROW industry also has its challenges. For one thing, it is LREE-centric and shortage of the heavy elements is a major barrier to ROW growth in the magnet and phosphor sectors. For another, there is a dependence on ‘others’ for technology; China, Molycorp, Rhodia and a few Japanese companies are the only sources of rare earths technology and will continue to play a key role in the development of new projects.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Uranium - Demand To Exceed Supply In 2012

Published on Thursday February 02 2012 (AEST)
Neal Froneman

Last year’s disaster resulting from Japan’s ill-advised siting of its Fukushima nuclear power station near five earthquake fault lines jolted not only nuclear power producers around the world but the entire industry pipeline, including uranium miners.

For the biggest projects, though, it was merely pause for soul-searching. The scale of investment in nuclear power by countries like China, India and Russia and the pressure to find an alternative to fossil fuels for power generation is forecast to lead to increasing deficits of uranium in the next decades, unless new sources are developed now.

According to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) statistics, in 2009 SA had the world’s fourth-largest reserves of uranium but was only the 10th- largest producer. Namibia, with the ninth-largest reserves, was the fourth-biggest producer. Several of its more explored deposits have recently attracted interest from Chinese investors.

The IAEA’s “Analysis of Uranium Supply to 2050” report says that in the event of medium economic growth and ecologically driven energy policies, 5,4Mt of uranium will be needed between 2000 and 2050. Because of issues like the timing and cost of new developments, the IAEA suggests there will be a total shortfall of almost 1Mt. That means it is necessary to invest in exploration now, because it can take 8-10 years from discovery to bring a new mine into production.

An e-mailed presentation by Intierra executive director Glen Jones at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference last week showed there were only 117 uranium mines operating around the world. This compares with 1211 gold mines. The number of uranium exploration projects was only one-sixth of gold projects. Australia, Canada, the US and Namibia had the largest number of exploration projects.

Jones says there are 434 nuclear reactors in service around the world, with another 560 proposed or under construction up to 2030. Current demand for uranium is about 180mlb annually, but only 141mlb is mined and the remainder is sourced from stockpiles. By 2030 the mid range forecast for demand suggests a 100mlb deficit. At current prices, projects are likely to be delayed, Jones says .

RBC Capital Markets said in a recent report that rising uranium deficits in future years would be a result of the current low prices, difficulties in obtaining permits for new mines and the end of the Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Agreement next year.

This was Russia’s agreement with the US to sell it 500t/year of weapons-grade uranium from stockpiles for 20 years, equivalent to about 18% of current mine production, according to The Energy Report.

RBC forecasts the uranium price will average about US$77/lb this year and $80/lb after 2013.

Spot uranium is currently trading around $53,45/lb , having fallen from above $70 when Fukushima started to leak. The spot price is not a good reflection of what the big miners receive as they sell around 80% of production on long-term contracts. New producers are more reliant on spot prices.

Says Gold One International CEO Neal Froneman : “ I agree there is a shortage of uranium looming, as Russian stockpiles come to an end next year and nuclear energy remains a viable option, despite Fukushima. Obviously perception issues need to be overcome.”

Last week he signed a memorandum of understanding with Gold Fields to look jointly at exploiting Gold Fields’ West Rand mine tailings, which contain about 4,5moz of gold and 53,6mlb of uranium.

Froneman says the project will break even at uranium prices lower than now because of the gold credits. For long- term planning, Gold One is using conservative uranium prices of $60/lb and gold at $1300/oz.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rio Tinto's ERA Uranium Output Seen Recovering In 2012

Published on Wednesday February 01 2012 (AEST)

* Rio Tinto's ERA predicts a recovery in uranium output up to 3,700/t in 2012

* Mining disruptions drive company to A$154 million loss in 2011

* See average 2012 uranium selling price in line with 2011

* Sales in 2012 expected to be broadly in line with production

MELBOURNE, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto's Energy Resources of Australia expects uranium output in 2012 to recover to between 3,000 and 3,700 tonnes after mining interruptions drove it to a A$154 million ($164 million) loss in 2011.

ERA's shares, which have tumbled 78 percent over the past year due to the company's production problems and wider concerns afflicting uranium stocks post Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster last March, were down 7 percent by early afternoon.

Production was suspended for five months last year at ERA's Ranger mine, which in previous years supplied as much as 10 percent of the world's uranium, due to heavy rains in Australia's tropical north.

The result was a 30 percent decline in overall production in 2011 to 2,641 tonnes against its 2010 tally.

It also said it purchased 2,126 tonnes of uranium on the spot market, of which 1,636 tonnes was sold in 2011. Combined with inventory management and uranium loans, this enabled the company to meet all its sales commitments.

ERA warned in January that production may be hit again this year as rain had delayed access to high grade uranium-bearing ore.

"Production in 2012 will be weighted towards the second half of the year with mining operations limited due to the wet season, particularly the record December 2011 rainfall," said ERA, which is 68-percent owned by Rio Tinto.

Sales were expected to be broadly in line with production in 2012, it said.

ERA expects to sell its uranium in 2012 at roughly the same average price -- $59.23 a pound -- it received in 2011, according to the company.

That's slightly above the current spot price of around $52 a pound.

However, it warned the international market for uranium "remains subdued" as excess supply is worked off.

It would be 2014 before prices started to rise, according to the company.

ERA said it incurred depreciation costs and a higher rehabilitation provision in 2011, in addition to costs associated with outside uranium purchases to meet sales obligations.

The company also cut the size of its estimated reserves at the Ranger mine, wiping A$99 million of inventory value from its balance sheet.

Production for 2012 remains highly dependent on the level of rainfall over the remainder of the wet season, it said.

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