Posts on this website are general "tips" and nothing more than that and should never be used to make an investment or trading decision. All information should be carefully cross-checked against official sources for accuracy.

Take your Uranium dollars off-shore

March 30th, 2011

In view of the looming Green dominated senate and the marked drop across our ASX uranium plays that have on-shore projects, I believe that it is probably sensible to take your money off-shore via our overseas listed explorers…

Other than Paladin we have a couple of ASX minor uranium producers overseas…..


Just in:
“The Greens are warning a number of regional communities will be put at risk if a planned project to transport uranium through Western Australia’s goldfields is approved
Read article.”

Japan relies on nuclear power for about 30% of its electricity: Is there another choice?

March 30th, 2011

Japan relies on nuclear power for about 30% of its electricity. It has few natural resources and imports large quantities of coal, gas and oil at an ever increasing cost. Some Japanese people are not in favour of nuclear power, but when the dust settles the nation might not have any real choice.

Losing four old reactors at Fukushima that were due for replacement is not the end of the world, and certainly not when you consider the huge loss of life and enormous damage wreaked by this month’s earthquake and tsunami.

Japan’s reactors

Japan built its 55 nuclear reactors over a period of decades (the damaged reactors in Fukushima are some of the world’s oldest still in regular operation, based on early commercial designs).

Nineteen began operation in the 1970s (Fukushima-Daichi-1 dates from 1971); fifteen began life in the 1980s; thirteen in the 1990s; and five in the “noughties”.

Of course, one might question the logic of building reactors in earthquake zones, but in the end the primary reactor structures in Fukushima were not directly damaged; nor have they been damaged in previous quakes.

One could also ask what would have happened to other sorts of power stations (particularly dispersed ones such as wind farms or solar cell arrays) in such an event. My guess is that they all would have been swept away.

Some context

All thermal power stations are based on similar principles: they produce heat by burning something (coal or gas for example) and convert the generated heat to electricity.

The big advantage of using nuclear reactions such as fission is that one fission produces about 100 million times more energy that you get from burning a single carbon atom.

Coal-fired power stations have to burn a lot of material (about three million tonnes a year) to generate electricity for a city of a million people, and about 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are released to the atmosphere in the process.

Nuclear reactors, by comparison, consume only one tonne of the fissile uranium isotope, U-235, to deliver the same.
Some numbers

There are currently 441 large nuclear power reactors in 35 countries, 120 of which date from the 1970s and early 1980s.

Collectively the 400-odd reactors supply about 15% of the world’s electricity (the average in OECD countries being more than 22%). So far they have racked up more than 14,000 reactor-years of operation.

The United States has the greatest number operating, with 103 units providing 20% of its electricity supply; this is followed by France with 57 (producing nearly 80% of its supply) and Japan, with 54 (providing about 30%).

With a lifespan of approximately 35 to 40 years, some have pointed to the fact a nuclear station decommissioning “peak” will occur from 2020 to 2030, and that this will present technological and environmental challenges. In my opinion these challenges will be met.

Reactors worldwide

Of the reactor types, 22% are either Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) or Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) while 62% are Pressurised Water Reactors (PWR) of different hues.

Most of the remaining reactors are the Canadian designed CANDU systems (or their derivatives in India) that operate with heavy water and natural uranium, or the AGR (graphite moderated, gas cooled) reactors developed in the UK from the early Magnox (metal fuel) reactors.
Modern designs

Newer models (those you would buy off the shelf if you went shopping for one today) are more modular, smaller, simpler with fewer pumps and valves etc., and they have what are called “passive” safety features.

These features are very important because they mean that you can continue to cool the reactors, even if you lose all electricity supply.

Dramatic advances in computers in the last two decades have also had a major impact on the control systems for reactors, improvements that are gradually being retrofitted to existing reactors, expanding their ability to diagnose and cope with issues that might occur through foreseen or unforeseen circumstances.

This will have a significant impact on the training of reactor staff, who already have available to them full-scale simulators that mimic real and imagined events, and on the capacity of the industry to share technological information.

The standardisation to a few reactor designs will also help the move towards international oversight and analysis of safety issues and approval of designs; this in turn will take some of the burden off individual countries that might be temped to reinvent the wheel.

What happens now?

Of course, the ongoing Japan crisis is not an easy situation to deal with and will doubtlessly have repercussions for the entire nuclear industry. Already, countries with significant nuclear installations are looking at the age of their fleets in the light of what has happened here.

Germany, which gets about 28% of its electricity from reactors, has paused operation of its older reactors until they can be re-evaluated.

China has temporarily stopped construction of the many new reactors it has on its drawing boards – currently 34 approved with work on another 26 initiated – and the UK is going to look again at its plans.

But the likely result of these and similar actions in other countries is a pause, rather than a cancellation of nuclear reactor production.

The Chinese government, for example, might worry that it cannot meet any of its carbon-emission targets without a large-scale low-emissions technology such as nuclear.

The needs for stable large-scale electricity supplies and lower carbon emissions are issues that won’t go away easily, not for any nation.

Nuclear has long been part of the solution, and I believe this remains the case.


Uranium watch shows the future is still nuclear

March 27th, 2011

The dangers of Nuclear power plants as mass killers seems to be a popular viewpoint at the moment but the facts actually point the other way… A recent article in the Australian Doctor reviewed the factual information following the Three Mile Island incident and states that it resulted in 1-2 deaths from released radiation within a 16km radius of the reactor.

Today’s article in the SMH is interesting in this context….

James Kirby
March 27, 2011

TWO weeks after the biggest nuclear crisis in a generation and a leading item on ABC radio news is that three workers have been taken to hospital in Japan for radiation treatment. Meanwhile, the toll from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami (killed or missing) is more than 27,000.

You might say that setting the radiation statistics at the still-dangerous Fukushima nuclear station against the wider disaster toll in Japan is meaningless … the story is far from over.

But what would be meaningful? Let’s pit the reported radiation casualties in Japan against other casualty lists in alternative forms of energy. For instance, the number killed in coal mines: in China alone, the official estimate of fatalities inside the national mining industry is more than 2000 a year.

Yes, the future of nuclear energy is under immediate review but a number of indicators suggest that the review may turn in a surprising direction. Read more

A glimmer of common sense?

March 21st, 2011

Mineral Resources Minister Tom Koutsantonis has backed enrichment of uranium in South Australia.

Mr Koutsantonis said he was keen for a debate on the merits of enriching uranium.

“One day down the track we’re going to have to start enriching uranium in South Australia, whether that’s in the next 10 years, 20 years or 50 years I don’t know,” he said.

The Minister says demand for uranium is growing and the state must look at more than just mining it.

“The old adage of digging something out of the ground, sending it offshore has got to change, we’ve got to value-add here in South Australia,” he said.

Greg Hall from uranium explorer Toro Energy says there is no urgency.

“I don’t think it’s a high priority for the Government. I think the priority for the Government is new resource development such as new uranium mines and value-adding their energy strategy going forward,” he said.

The SA Government says it does not expect the Japanese nuclear plant crisis to affect SA’s uranium industry.

At a uranium industry conference in Adelaide, industry consultant Greg Rudd said now was not the time to debate Australia’s nuclear future.

“No-one now is going to go out and back, for example, a nuclear power industry in Australia in this political cycle,” he said.

“They’d be stupid to do it.” Ends…

Well not being a politician I am happy to back the idea and in fact I have been pushing for a “cradle to grave” nuclear solution for years.

China hungry for Uranium: Watch out Extract?

March 8th, 2011

Two China uranium stories today caught my eye…

  • The first that China will surpass the USA’s uranium consumption by 2030 to feed its rapidly growing nuclear power supply industry. The USA is currently the world’s largest uranium user with very little of its own production. (I do note that the US has just approved a uranium mill in Colarado). China tripled its imports last year to around 17,000 tons…… (However the US still has enough uranium for decommissioned war-heads to provide enough to sell… see the story below).
  • The second story, one that should make Extract’s investors toes tingle, is the 750 million English pound bid by China’s CGNPC to buy out of Kalahari Minerals with its’ 42.8% stake in Extract. (I wonder what the FIRB’s take on the Chinese state-owned firm CGNPC moving on EXT itself will be? Especially as EXT’s dominant asset is in Namibia?)
  • Does this mean that EXT is in China’s sights? And if so what premium will China pay to have one of the world’s largest, economically viable uranium resources?

    I hold EXT

    One day latter 9/3/2011

    We the holders of Extract Resources seem to be in for an interesting time with a tussle developing between Rio, Kalahari, China Guangdong Nuclear Power and Extract for majority control of the Hsuab project destined to be the world’s second largest uranium mine.

    “RBC analyst Adam Schatzker said: “We believe that CGNPC’s motivation in acquiring Kalahari is to ultimately gain significant future uranium production offtake. The next logical move will be for CGNPC to acquire Extract.”

    “This is a play by Kalahari to force Rio Tinto’s hand if they can; Kalahari are sellers and they want to get out,” said Simon Tonkin at Patersons Securities in Perth.

    This time may you live in interesting times may be a blessing rather than an ancient Chinese curse.
    Edit/Delete Message

    Uranium Investors might be better of overseas

    March 4th, 2011

    I’ve pulled out of all the Australian uranium explorer plays that don’t have overseas projects. It isn’t that we don’t have great Australian uranium resources… it is about what is going to happen with our looming green senate.

    The article below is a taste of what is to come:

    Green group casts doubt over uranium plans

    The Conservation Council of Western Australia says the Environmental Protection Authority must thoroughly scrutinise Toro Energy’s proposal to mine uranium in Wiluna.

    Toro Energy yesterday submitted its plan and the authority will now assess whether it is environmentally viable.

    The council’s Mia Pepper says three mining companies have made proposals to mine for uranium in Wiluna and the environment will be unable to cope.

    “We’ve got in that area, within a 100 kilometre radius, with uranium mine proposals that all required upwards to 6.5 million litres of water a day, all of that adds up and we’re talking about a dry and arid area with very little amounts of water and very little recharge of those water sources,” she said.

    Visit for information about the following:

    Australian Uranium Stocks – Producers

    Australian Uranium Stocks – Explorers with Operations in Australia

    Australian Uranium Stocks – Explorers with Operations Not in Australia

    Australian Uranium Stocks – Resources (Largest to smallest)

    U.S. Energy Dept to sell surplus uranium = ? Dumb Yanks

    March 4th, 2011

    According to Reuters the U.S. Energy Dept plans to sell 2,000 tonnes of surplus uranium annually 2011-2013.

    The sales are said to be scheduled at three monthly intervals and subsequently might push down spot prices.

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Energy Department plans to sell 2,000 tonnes of surplus uranium annually 2011-2013, which could push spot prices lower over the next three years.

    The uranium is suitable for nuclear power plants….

    I wonder if this will effect our emerging producers like EXT?

    I guess Paladin, ERA and our other producers could take a hit as they are selling product over the next few years… but it is a leap to think that it will affect them much and probably shouldn’t impact our emerging producers at all….. unless emotion becomes the driving factor.

    Sometimes I wonder at just how dumb the Yanks seem to be. Wouldn’t it be a rational play to store the uranium for a rainy day? But I guess they are so broke this could be the “rainy day”. But they are going to look a bit silly when their overseas oil supplies dwindle and their new found love of CSM and Shale gas starts to whither as gas bubbles into their water courses and side effects from fraccing chemicals start to emerge… but live for the day eh?

    We saw the same type of short sighted behavior here in Australia and the UK with the gold reserves sell-offs that cost Australia and the UK billions of dollars…

    Silex Systems ASX SLX

    March 4th, 2011

    I’ve held them for years and I have thrown in the towel and sold them…. They have good technology but afterall how long can you wait….

    MarketClub Smart Scan Alert for SILXF Chart Analysis Down SILEX SYSTEMS LTD (NASDAQ_SILXF) has weakened to a new Chart Analysis score of -100 and is trading at 5.15 +0.05 (+0.98%). This score is below your preset level of -75.

    SILXF Streaming Chart
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    Last 5.15 Net Change +0.05 (+0.98%) Score -100
    Volume 100

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