Wednesday, February 28, 2007

BHP Billiton buys third-party uranium

The price of uranium has begun to bite BHP Billiton as customers exercise options to buy uranium for $50 less than the spot price.

The contracts were originally signed some years ago by WMC Resources, bought by BHP Billiton in 2005, for sales of uranium from the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia. At the time of negotiation, the price of uranium had been steady for years at around $10/lb U3O8. As a means of incentive, negotiators included clauses whereby buys could opt to increase the volumes of the uranium transaction at the negotiated rate, thought to be locked below $20/lb.

However, since mid-2003 the price of uranium has escalated at an increasing rate, and with one pound of U3O8 now selling on the spot market for $85, some customers are taking advantage of the option at considerable expense to BHP as it must buy supplies of uranium beyond its own production capacity.

Not all customers are exploiting the situation, many reportedly take the view that BHP will be valuable partner in future. Olympic Dam is one of the largest uranium deposits in the world, with one third of the world's known uranium resources. Capacity there is set to triple to 15,000 lb/y by 2013 under a plan worth some A$5 billion ($3.95 billion)."

Chile investigates Nuclear Power

Mercopress, Santiago Times, 28 February] Chile's Energy Minister, Karen Poniachik, announced that her ministry would begin a feasibility study into the potential use of nuclear energy in the country. Hernan Larrain, president of the Independent Democratic Union (UDI), said 'a sensible nation like Chile needs to study this possibility' and that ruling out the use of nuclear energy would be irresponsible. Congressman Antonio Leal said, 'Chile has to begin studies today so that we can diversify our country's electricity-generating capabilities.' The governing Concertación party has strongly backed the use of nuclear energy, but the conservative Alliance oppositional coalition, consisting of the UDI and RN parties, has been more hesitant, promoting the construction of large dams in the southern Aysén region. Poniachik said a plan to assess the implementation of nuclear energy would be presented in March."

Monday, February 26, 2007

India Plans to Sell Nuclear Power Reactors to Asian Nations Worldwide: "Feb. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd. is in talks with Southeast Asian countries to sell 220 megawatt atomic reactors once international restrictions on the South Asian nation's nuclear power program are lifted.
``We are trying to showcase our ability to supply this technology to a number of countries that want to benefit from nuclear power,'' S.K. Jain, chairman of Nuclear Power Corp., said in a phone interview yesterday from Goa in western India. ``It's a matter of how long it will take before the U.S. deal is finalized.''
India is waiting to reach a final agreement on its nuclear accord with the U.S. and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear regulator, before it can buy light- water nuclear power reactors of more than 1,000 megawatts from overseas companies.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group, a 45-nation forum dedicated to limiting the spread of atomic weapons, must also approve this agreement. The company also needs international approval before it can sell homegrown pressurized heavy water reactors, he said.
Nuclear Power Corp. has approached Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam as potential buyers for its 220- megawatt pressurized heavy water reactors, Jain said.
``We are very serious about grabbing the export market,'' Jain said. The company today announced that its third atomic power unit of 220 megawatts at Kaiga in the southern Indian state of Karnataka has gone ``critical,'' or is ready to produce power for consumers. "

Romawa - Welcome

Romawa - Welcome: "The first question to ask is: is nuclear power a sustainable form of energy conversion? The definition mostly used for “sustainablility” is from the report “Our Common Future” – 1987 by Mrs. Bruntland: “Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"

Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - Zero-down lenders folding - Zero-down lenders folding: "Brian and Selah Davenport were two days away from closing on a townhouse in Parker when their mortgage broker called on Valentine's Day.
Their lender, Las Vegas-based Silver State Financial Services, one of the country's bigger subprime lenders, had ceased operations. That forced the couple, who were looking for a zero- down loan, to scramble to find another lender and save the purchase.
'I didn't know a lender could shut down all of a sudden and there would be nothing for you as a consumer,' said Selah, who hopes to close Friday.
About two dozen of the largest subprime mortgage lenders across the country - some with offices and customers in Denver - have gone under or stopped making loans since December, according to the Mortgage Lender 'Implode-O-Meter,' a new website tracking closures in the subprime lending industry.
The site tracks only large lenders, so there are probably far more closures.
'You're seeing 40 or 50 (subprime companies) a day throughout the country going down in one form or another. I expect that to continue throughout the year,' Angelo Mozilo, chief executive of Countrywide Financial, told investors in a recent conference call. "

Sunday, February 18, 2007

South Africa plans big expansion of nuclear capacity

The Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) foresees a huge growth in the country's nuclear capacity to about 27,000 MWe - some 30% of electricity supply - by 2030.Rob Adam, chief executive of Necsa has said his company expects government to authorise the construction of 24 indigenously-designed Pebble Bed Modular Reactors (PBMRs) of 165 MWe each, as well as 12 full-size reactors of 1000 MWe or more. His comments, made at a conference in Johannesburg, appeared in Business Report.Necsa is a public company set up in 1999 to promote research and development in nuclear energy, radiation science and technology. The comments follow the recent announcement of the utility Eskom's decision to build a new nuclear plant in South Africa. Eskom already has a two-unit nuclear plant at Koeberg near Cape Town that outputs 1842 MWe. South Africa faces electricity supply problems because the coal resources that fire 90% of its power are located in the north east of the country, far away from the population centres. Either the heavy coal must be transported, or the electricity transmitted many hundreds of kilometers. When maintenance problems affected the Koeberg nuclear plant last year, rolling blackouts had to be imposed on the Cape Town region in the face of overall shortfalls of up to 4500 MWe.Adam also called for South Africa to enter the uranium enrichment business: "This is rocket science, but South Africa has done it before," he said, referring to the atomic weapons programme the country abolished in 1995. "We have the people, but if we wait another ten years they will have all retired."A new nuclear strategy will be presented to the South African cabinet in coming weeks according to presentations cited by Business Report.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Coverage of Uranium juniors

I will be covering the sector here, in detail, feedback welcome.

World Nuclear News