Published on Friday December 28 2012 (AEST)
Paladin Energy chief executive John Borshoff has balked at Premier Colin Barnett's suggestion the State could have four operating uranium mines by 2023, saying two mines is a best-case scenario.
The industry stalwart, who has been involved in uranium for more than 35 years and sits on the board of the Australian Uranium Association, told WestBusiness some companies with prospective projects in WA were living in a fantasy world.
"I don't think the four deposits (Mr Barnett mentioned) will happen," Mr Borshoff said. "With Cameco's Kintyre and Yeelirrie projects, one of them could get up, maybe. (Mega Uranium's) Lake Maitland project will never happen. It's an inappropriate, low-grade and small deposit . . . it's a dead man walking. "Toro has a chance if the price of uranium goes up, so, realistically, that's two mines, maybe." Paladin, which has two operating mines in Africa, has the Manyingee and the Oobagooma projects in WA. Mr Borshoff said a uranium spot price of $US80 a pound would be needed before those projects were given the green light.
Uranium is currently priced at $US43.37/lb. Reflecting on the year, in which uranium prices dropped to 2 1/2 -year lows and Paladin's shares to seven-year lows, Mr Borshoff said an impending supply gap would create a "tipping point" for the spot price. He predicted a price of $US65/lb by the end of next year and an upswing in Paladin's share price. In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Borshoff also weighed in on the green tape debate.
This was brought to the fore in the uranium sector last week after Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke delayed making a decision on Toro Energy's Wiluna project. Mr Borshoff said that sort of inaction put companies in "suspended animation". "Businesses are trying to justify to banks and partners to invest and get capital, well, decisions like that just create unnecessary risk," he said.
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