Athabasca Basin and Beyond: Uranium News from Saskatchewan and Elsewhere for May 25-31
Fission/Alpha outdo their best R00E-zone assay at PLS
Having previously announced their best interval yet from Patterson Lake South’s R00E zone on May 16, Fission Uranium [V.FCU] and Alpha Minerals [V.AMW] announced an even better assay on May 27: 8.57% U3O8 over 20.5 metres. Results for two closely spaced infill holes show:
- 3.61% U3O8 over 6.5 metres, starting at 55.5 metres in downhole depth
- (including 8.99% over 2.5 metres)
- 8.57% over 20.5 metres, starting at 65.5 metres
- (including 17.78% over 9.5 metres).
- 0.13% over 5 metres, starting at 63.5 metres
- 5.54% over 13.5 metres, starting at 83.5 metres
- (including 17.08% over 3.5 metres).
Additionally hole PLS13-058, 10 metres north of a hole reported in November, showed:
- 0.11% over 4 metres, starting at 63.5 metres
- 0.18% over 17 metres, starting at 70.5 metres.
True widths weren’t available.
The results show mineralization is continuous for 120 metres along strike and open in both directions, the 50/50 joint venture partners reported. “We now have high-grade intersections in both the western and eastern areas of the zone, which demonstrates the expansive nature of the mineralization at R00E,” stated Fission president/COO Ross McElroy. “The spectacular quality of these results is further proof that the zone hosts high grades similar to those we’ve found at zone R390E.”
The previous week the JV partners announced a $6.95-million summer program for their celebrated flagship.
Fission/Alpha bolster their teams
The JV partners expanded their staff too. On May 29 Alpha announced two appointments to its advisory board. Charles E. Roy brings over 30 years of experience with Cameco Corp [T.CCO], where he helped supervise seven discoveries.
Alan R. Graham, a former New Brunswick minister of natural resources and energy, has served on the Atomic Energy Control Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. He was “involved in the permitting and oversight of nearly all of the producing uranium mines in the Athabasca Basin,” Alpha stated.
Fission followed two days later with two appointments of its own. Director William V. Marsh spent 15 years working on drilling programs for Chevron. He was a director of Predator Capital, Wolf Capital and, up to its $35.18-million sale to Green Dragon Gas in 2008, Pacific Asia China Energy.
Executive advisory board member Anthony Milewski is a senior adviser to Reuben Brothers Resources, a principal at Black Vulcan Resources and a director of several private and public resource companies who has “particular interest in physical uranium trading and industry supply and demand dynamics,” Fission stated.
Yellowjacket now Athabasca Nuclear Corp, raises $310,160
The company previously known as Yellowjacket Resources [V.YJK] announced AGM results on May 30, including a new name: Athabasca Nuclear Corp [V.ASC]. In addition, shareholders appointed Ryan Kalt chairman, with director Tim Termuende taking his place on the audit committee.
The company also completed the first tranche of a $600,000 private placement announced April 30, raising $310,160 through 2.58 million units at 12 cents. Each unit consists of one share and a warrant for a half share. Each entire warrant allows a share purchase for 20 cents for 18 months. Kalt nabbed 1.6 million units, increasing his stake to about 22.3% of the company’s outstanding shares.
Allied forces airborne over PLS region
Following the May 24 announcement from then-Yellowjacket/now-Athabasca Nuclear, three more companies announced their participation in a joint geophysical survey on their contiguous PLS-area properties. Skyharbour Resources [V.SYH], Aldrin Resource [V.ALN] and Forum Uranium [V.FDC] each issued separate statements this week saying the VTEM-Plus system/magnetic gradiometer survey was underway. Citing Alpha’s 43-101 technical report filed in April, Aldrin stated the Alpha/Fission team used a similar survey to define conductors associated with their high-grade, near-surface PLS intercepts.
In a statement accompanying his May 27 news release, Skyharbour director Jim Pettit referred to recently announced earn-ins with Lucky Strike Resources [V.LKY] and Noka Resources [V.NX]. The partners “bring valuable technical expertise, proven management teams and financial capital to help create synergies in the field and corporately,” Pettit explained. “Our geological teams plan to employ the refined exploration methodology that led to the Alpha/Fission PLS discovery to further increase our chances of making a new discovery while saving costs and time. We believe this partnership and structure offer the best prospects for vectoring in on a new uranium discovery in the Athabasca region while at the same time mitigating company-specific risk.”
Zadar options five more projects, appoints adviser
In a deal including over $15 million in exploration data, Zadar Ventures [V.ZAD] optioned an additional five Basin properties from a subsidiary of Canterra Minerals [V.CTM]. The package totals 67,561 hectares, Zadar stated on May 29. Four projects called Pasfield Lake, Stony Road, Riverlake and Highrock live in the eastern Basin, while the west-side West Carswell property lies 11 kilometres from Shea Creek, the Basin’s third-largest resource, a 49% UEX Corp [T.UEX] and 51% AREVA Resources Canada project. All five properties have seen geophysical work and drilling.
In return Zadar pays $50,000 and issues Canterra two million shares. Canterra also gets a 2% NSR on each property, half of which Zadar may buy back for $1 million per project.
On May 30 Zadar announced the appointment of Jeremy Brett to its advisory board. A senior geophysicist with MPH Consulting, Brett’s 18 years of experience includes uranium exploration in the Athabasca, Thelon, Baker Lake and Otish basins.
Ashburton readies Sienna North and West campaign, drops CanAlaska option
Ashburton Ventures [V.ABR] announced on May 30 Phase I plans for its Sienna North and West projects in the PLS area. The program calls for surveying and cutting grids, scintillometer tests, soil sampling, radon surveys and float prospecting. Work is expected to begin within weeks.
The news release suggested the company might also participate in the joint airborne survey now being conducted for Athabasca Nuclear, Skyharbour, Aldrin and Forum.
Not solely fixated with uranium, on May 28 Ashburton announced it staked claims adjacent to Doubleview Capital’s [V.DBV] Hat copper-gold property in northwestern British Columbia. At the same time Ashburton said it was pulling out of an option to acquire two more PLS-area properties from CanAlaska Uranium [T.CVV].
Hathor alumni reunite at NexGen
Showing some consistency in its hiring policy, NexGen Energy [V.NXE] named Andriyko Herchak chief financial officer on May 31. Herchak held the same position with Hathor Exploration until Rio Tinto completed its $654-million takeout in 2012. During his five years of CFO-ing for Hathor the company “raised $100 million and acquired its major joint venture partners to consolidate ownership of its assets,” NexGen stated.
The previous week NexGen appointed two other former Hathorites who were also, by the way, ex-Rio people. They joined other Rio vets like NexGen directors Christopher McFadden and James Currie. The Roughrider deposit that Rio acquired from Hathor shows 17.2 million pounds U3O8 indicated and 40.7 million pounds inferred. NexGen’s flagship is its 70% earn-in on the Radio project, adjacent to Roughrider.
Private placements: Denison closes $14.95 million, Energy Fuels offers $5 million, Aldrin offers $1 million
The Basin will get another $14.95 million of work with the closing of a private placement announced May 28 by Denison Mines [T.DML]. The company flogged 11.5 million flow-through shares at $1.30 a pop in a bought-deal offer first announced May 9.
United States producer Energy Fuels [T.EFR] announced a $5-million bought-deal private placement on May 31. The deal offers 35.71 million units at 14 cents, with each unit comprising a share and one-half warrant. Each whole warrant will be exercisable for 19 cents for two years. The underwriters may increase the offering by 15%. The previous week Energy Fuels announced a letter of intent to acquire Strathmore Minerals [T.STM], which would create one of the largest uranium companies operating in the U.S.
In addition to announcing participation in the joint airborne survey, Aldrin’s May 28 statement opened a non-brokered private placement of up to 12.5 million units at 8 cents per unit for $1 million. Each unit consists of one share and one-half warrant. Each whole warrant will be exercisable for a year at 18 cents.
Cameco, AREVA, natives sign agreement potentially worth $600 million
Two years of negotiations ended in a signing ceremony that could bring a Saskatchewan native band $600 million over 10 years. On May 31 Cameco, AREVA Resources Canada and the English River First Nation announced a collaboration agreement that will “formalize how benefits from uranium mining will be shared with the ERFN community.”
The 1,400-member band will benefit mostly through business contracts and wages, the three parties stated. But “companies will also provide a signing bonus, milestone payments and annual community investment payments based on mine production for ERFN community development initiatives.”
The potential figure of $600 million is based on Cameco’s and AREVA’s existing Saskatchewan operations and “could be significantly higher if planned projects such as the Millennium mine are developed.” Cameco has a 69.9% interest in the southeastern Basin JV, with Japan Canada Uranium (JCU) holding the remainder. Under the collaboration agreement, the ERFN will drop a lawsuit opposing the project.
WRIC 2013 buzzes with uranium talk
Uranium proved a hot topic at Vancouver’s World Resource Investment Conference 2013 on May 26 and 27. The commodity was the subject of bullish comments from Rick Rule, a promotion by Casey Research and corporate presentations by Fission, UEX Corp and Lakeland Resources [V.LK], while Blue Sky Uranium [V.BSK] and Skyharbour hosted booths.
J.P. Morgan reduces price forecasts but remains optimistic
Higher uranium prices are coming but, until 2016, they won’t be as high as previously forecast, said J.P. Morgan. A May 30 Financial Post story reported the institution’s newest spot price predictions:
- $43 per pound in 2013 (previously forecast at $46)
- $58 in 2014 (previously $60)
- $70 in 2015 (previously $90)
- $90 in 2016 (previously $70).
The FP quoted metals and mining analyst Tyler Langton, who said this year’s end of the megatons-to-megawatts agreement “will likely result in a significant price spike with new mine supply requiring time to catch up after two years of project deferrals…. We continue to believe that prices of around US$80 per pound are needed to incentivize new supply that will be needed to meet slowly rising demand and make up for the expiration of the HEU agreement at the end of 2013.”
The May 27 spot price was $40.50, according to the Ux Consulting Company.
AREVA undeterred by terrorism in Niger
AREVA has reaffirmed its commitment to uranium mining in Niger despite the terror bombing of its Somair mine, the Voice of America reported on May 31. One employee died and 14 were injured in a May 23 blast that destroyed the operation’s grinding units. At least 24 soldiers died in a simultaneous attack on a military barracks in the same region.
“One of the two al-Qaida-linked militant groups that carried out the attack in Niger also hit a European-operated natural gas plant in Algeria in mid-January, killing at least 37 hostages,” the VOA stated. “There is concern that militants will continue to target high-value economic targets in the region.”
The French government owns a majority stake in AREVA. France’s 58 nuclear reactors generate about 75% of the country’s electricity, the VOA added, with a quarter of the country’s uranium coming from AREVA’s two Niger mines. According to the World Nuclear Association, those mines produce 7.5% of global supply.
Somair could be offline for up to nine months, while an even larger Niger mine might see further delays beyond its planned 2015 opening. The risk “will likely mean tighter security at work sites and hikes in insurance premiums for companies operating in the region,” the VOA explained. “But analysts don’t expect that to dampen investment in the oil, gas and mining sectors.”
Uranium and potash drive Saskatchewan investment
Some lagging mega-projects notwithstanding, the Saskatchewan Mining Association maintains the industry will invest $50 billion in the province between 2008 and 2028. On May 28 the Regina Leader-Post quoted SMA president Steve Fortney, who said growing demand for food and energy bodes well for Saskatchewan’s potash and uranium sectors.
He added that recent changes to the province’s royalties system will further encourage exploration and development.
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