Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere for May 10 to 16, 2014
by Greg Klein
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Cameco suspends Millennium mine proposal
Declining uranium prices have forced Cameco Corp TSX:CCO to postpone its Millennium mine proposal. On May 16 the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission stated a public hearing for a licence application scheduled for June had been adjourned at Cameco’s request. A brief message on the company’s website blamed “poor economic conditions in world uranium markets.”
Figures from 2009 credited the project with an indicated resource of 46.8 million pounds uranium oxide (U3O8) averaging 4.53% uranium. A 2013 environmental impact statement forecast an initial 10-year lifespan, but anticipated extensions if further resources were found. Ore would have been shipped 36 kilometres south to the Key Lake mill, held 83% by Cameco and 17% by AREVA Resources Canada.
Uranium prices have continued their slide to new record lows. Although there’s no spot price for the metal, UX Consulting’s most recent indicator, published May 12, came to $29 a pound.
In last month’s Q1 report, Cameco expressed optimism about the long-term outlook, expecting “an increase in annual uranium consumption from today’s 170 million pounds to about 240 million pounds” over the next decade.
The CNSC left the door open for Cameco to make a future request that its licence application be considered by the commission, which would then call a public hearing.
Fission Uranium hits 30 metres of 2.58% U3O8 at Patterson Lake South
Fission Uranium TSXV:FCU unloaded assays for eight more holes from Patterson Lake South on May 13, all of them from the R780E zone. This week’s star, PLS14-158, marks the eastern-most R780E hole for which assays have been released, boosting the company’s optimism in the deposit’s eastward potential. Some of the best results show:
- 0.72% U3O8 over 11 metres, starting at 163 metres in downhole depth
- (including 2.04% over 3 metres)
- 0.77% over 6 metres, starting at 187.5 metres
- (including 2.31% over 1.5 metres)
- 0.26% over 14 metres, starting at 145 metres
- 0.41% over 5 metres, starting at 248 metres
- (including 1.06% over 1.5 metres)
- 0.79% over 19 metres, starting at 127.5 metres
- (including 3.21% over 3.5 metres)
- 0.46% over 7.5 metres, starting at 151.5 metres
- 0.3% over 8.5 metres, starting at 196 metres
- (including 1.43% over 1 metre)
- 2.07% over 3 metres, starting at 208 metres
- (including 3.21% over 1.5 metres)
- 1.83% over 3.5 metres, starting at 154.5 metres
- (including 2.9% over 2 metres)
- 0.63% over 5 metres, starting at 192.5 metres
- 0.2% over 17.5 metres, starting at 117.5 metres
- 2.94% over 7 metres, starting at 219 metres
- (including 5.58% over 3.5 metres)
- 0.22% over 19.5 metres, starting at 285.5 metres
- 0.35% over 6.5 metres, starting at 125 metres
- 0.29% over 14.5 metres, starting at 168.5 metres
- 0.72% over 8 metres, starting at 141 metres
- 2.58% over 30 metres, starting at 152 metres
- (including 22.02% over 1 metre)
- (and including 8.57% over 5 metres)
- 6.85% over 10 metres, starting at 232.5 metres
- (including 12.23% over 5.5 metres)
- 3.53% over 4.5 metres, starting at 253.5 metres
- (including 11.95% over 1 metre)
True widths weren’t provided. R780E is the middle of five zones, and the largest of all five, along a 2.24-kilometre potential strike that’s open both to the east and west. With assays released for 30 winter holes so far, lab results are pending for approximately 62 more.
Although winter exploration drilling fell short of exciting, the season’s focus was on infill drilling to define a maiden resource that will—on some unspecified date—debut to an intensely curious audience.
Powertech files Kyrgyzstan resource held 80% by proposed merger partner, updates South Dakota licence challenge
Powertech Uranium TSX:PWE has filed an inferred resource for the Kyzyl Ompul licence in Kyrgyzstan, the company announced on May 13. The 42,379-hectare project is held 80% by Azarga Resources Ltd, which plans to merge with Powertech. The resource uses a 0.01% cutoff to show 15.13 tonnes averaging 0.022% for 7.51 million pounds U3O8 inferred.
Powertech described the Kok Moinok main zone as about 700 metres along an east-west strike, 600 metres north-south and 10 to 30 metres in depth. The report also included two conceptual exploration target area estimates.
Although Powertech acknowledged that access to the project was blocked by political unrest in 2005 and 2010, the company maintained that “the main risk factors at this stage are commodity prices….”
Last year Kyrgyzstan managed to fall a few spots to the very bottom of the Fraser Institute’s policy perception index and achieved near-bottom rankings for several other categories in the annual poll of mining professionals. But a May 7 Financial Post article by Peter Koven pointed out that despite public opposition, social unrest and ongoing government policy threats, Centerra Gold’s (TSX:CG) Kyrgyzstan mine “continues to run and churn out cash.”
On May 14 Powertech updated events following a challenge to its operating licence for the company’s Dewey-Burdock project in South Dakota. In oral hearings the previous day, opponents questioned procedures followed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to determine the importance of possible native religious sites in the area.
As the hearings continue, the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will decide whether Dewey-Burdock’s licence becomes effective or remains on hold until a formal hearing in August. Read more about the licence challenge.
MPVC begins drilling Maguire Lake target at NW Manitoba
Drilling has begun at MPVC Inc’s (TSXV:UNO) Northwest Manitoba project, the company announced May 14. While winter conditions persist, a diamond drill will focus on Maguire Lake. Preliminary radon measurements from the lake reported the previous week were, to the company’s knowledge, second only to PLS for a water-based survey. MPVC will also bring in a rotary air blast drill, which is intended to test shallow targets quickly.
With ground gravity survey results now in hand, the company has filled in gaps between three earlier sets of data, extending previously identified gravity lows and discovering new gravity lows.
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