Wednesday, June 13, 2007

News Limited May 21, 2007 - Uranium sea change

Robin Bromby


STAND by for a uranium sea change -- the end of the big tenement land rush and the start of serious exploration.

This means, according to Far East Capital's Warwick Grigor, that the race is now on among the 150 or so locally listed uranium companies to find a resource while the metal's price is still in its peak phase.

Mr Grigor, who charts hundreds of resource juniors on a daily basis, said that the potential uranium supplies to be brought on to the market by Canadians and others could eventually see the price go back below $US100 a pound. The metal was still holding strong at $US120/lb last week.

But if the land rush phase is just about over, it's ending with a bang as both established explorers and latecomers scramble for projects.

And Africa seems to be the latest favourite.

In recent days, Crossland Uranium Mines has expanded its search to West Africa by joining a Canadian explorer to pick up 5000sqkm in Burkina Faso; Murchison United has begun drilling in Guinea and is raising another $6.6 million; Western Uranium has hired consultants to find it uranium projects in Africa; recent entrants New Age Exploration and Palace Resources have jointly gone hunting uranium in countries ranging from Sierra Leone to Mali; and NGM Resources is acquiring three uranium leases in Niger, a country where Canadians and Chinese companies have also been pouncing on uranium leads.

Also joining the ranks of the uranium players is Marmota Energy, a float being spun out of Monax Mining. Xenolith Gold has plumped for "nearology" and acquired tenements close to advanced projects held by Nova Energy, while oil and gas junior Rawson Resources is going looking for yellowcake opportunities in Texas, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado.

Mr Grigor, in his client note on uranium, said the uranium boom was now fact, no longer fantasy.

"This is a bull market based on hard factual economics, not fantasies and what-ifs," he wrote. "At these uranium prices, there are enormous cash flows that can be made."

And he now likes many of the companies that, two years ago, he dismissed as marginal players. These were the players with low- grade resources but -- with the quadrupling of the uranium price in that time -- had now been placed in an enviable position.

"If the uranium price keeps rising, these companies will shine even more," he added.

Mr Grigor expects the new exploration phase to last about two years, after which investors would be much better educated.

The more serious companies would be moving toward production, but the majority of exploration stocks would probably have withered on the vine.

Far East Capital's rankings have now been expanded to include two more companies in the potential producer category, Alliance Resources and Bannerman Resources.

Alliance has a stake in a 15,000 tonne resource in South Australia while last week a European consortium bought a large stake in Bannerman as that company looked to develop uranium mining in Namibia.

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