Uranium news from Saskatchewan and elsewhere to April 17, 2015
by Greg Klein
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India’s fast-emerging market becomes a Cameco customer
What was confirmed on April 15 had been anticipated all along—otherwise, why would Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall just happen to join the Ottawa announcement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi? Athabasca Basin heavyweight Cameco Corp TSX:CCO clinched a five-year deal to supply India with 7.1 million pounds of uranium.
The contract, valued by the feds at $350 million, completely overshadowed the day’s other 15 bilateral announcements. Yet it’s not all that big to a company that sold 33.9 million pounds U3O8 last year. Most importantly, the deal “opens the door to a dynamic and expanding uranium market,” said Cameco president/CEO Tim Gitzel. “Much of the long-term growth we see coming in our industry will happen in India and this emerging market is key to our strategy.”
Indeed Cameco described its new customer as the second-fastest-growing uranium market in the world. India’s 21 reactors now produce 6,000 megawatts, only 3% of the country’s consumption. Six new reactors should add another 4,300 MW by 2017, Cameco noted. By 2032 India’s projected to have about 45,000 MW of nuclear capacity.
As for the impact on prices, Dundee Capital Markets analyst David Talbot told the Financial Post that the deal could cause a chain reaction for future contracts.
But the deal also aggravated an old wound. A group of anti-nuke activists meeting in Quebec—a province now considering an outright ban on uranium mining—denounced the sale to “a country that maintains an arsenal of nuclear weapons and has never signed the United Nations’ Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
Attendees of the World Uranium Symposium reminded Canadians that “India has already broken its promise to Canada in the past by using a Canadian reactor given as a gift in 1956 to produce the plutonium for its first atomic bomb, detonated in 1974.”
Gordon Edwards of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility added, “Despite rules specifying no military use of Canadian materials, some uranium from Canada could well end up in Indian bombs. At the very least, Canadian uranium will free up more Indian uranium for weapons production purposes.”
Yet India plans to double its coal consumption by 2020, “overtaking the U.S. as the world’s second-largest coal consumer after China,” the Financial Post reported.
And as a supplier to India, Canada will hardly be alone.
Citing figures from India’s Department of Atomic Energy, the World Nuclear Association stated the country had imported 4,458 tonnes of uranium since 2008, when India appeared to regain some of its pre-1974 credibility by signing the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group agreement. Russia supplied 2,058 tonnes, Kazakhstan 2,100 tonnes and France 300 tonnes, according to the WNA. Several other countries, most recently Australia, have signed so-far unconsummated and not necessarily binding supply agreements with India.
Fission finishes winter work at Patterson Lake South
With another season of drilling wrapped up, Fission Uranium TSX:FCU reported results from multiple fronts at Patterson Lake South. The last few dispatches outlined progress at the R780E zone, as well as R00E and two areas of exploration drilling. R780E, mainstay of the Triple R resource, has been extended laterally, vertically and along strike. But four holes from R00E, scene of the PLS discovery, fell short of spectacular. Four exploration holes from Patterson Lake found no significant radioactivity while 20 others at Forest Lake presented a mixed bag of insignificant to anomalous radioactivity.
Released April 16, some step-out highlights from the eastern part of R780E showed:
- 0.66% U3O8 over 33 metres, starting at 142 metres in downhole depth
- (including 1.87% over 2.5 metres)
- (and including 8.78% over 1 metre)
- 0.42% over 40.5 metres, starting at 61.55 metres
- (including 2.87% over 1 metre)
- 5.4% over 4 metres, starting at 162.5 metres
- (including 14.07% over 1.5 metres)
- 0.23% over 7 metres, starting at 182.5 metres
- 1.6% over 10.5 metres, starting at 144 metres
- (including 3.71% over 4 metres)
- 0.37% over 12.5 metres, starting at 172.5 metres
True widths weren’t available.
Four holes at R00E, 225 metres west of R780E, fell short of the project’s high standards, with the best result showing 0.19% over 2 metres, starting at 67.5 metres.
About seven kilometres southeast of Triple R, four holes at Forest Lake intersected anomalous radioactivity on three basement EM conductors, Fission stated. Sixteen other holes didn’t. Nevertheless, Forest Lake remains a priority.
Four other regional holes at Patterson Lake northeast of Triple R also came up empty.
Scintillometer results announced April 8 extended Triple R’s high-grade area and increased the extent of known mineralization. The hand-held device measures radiation from drill core in counts per second. Its results are no substitute for the still-pending assays.
The standout was hole PLS15-379 which found, within a 105-metre section, a total composite of 8.01 metres above 10,000 cps, peaking up to 61,100 cps. Another five showed mineralization in areas that had little previous drilling. Of 11 holes in the April 8 batch, all found mineralization and eight hit intervals above 10,000 cps, the level once considered “offscale” due to the limitations of older scintillometers.
An April 6 batch of assays increased R780E laterally, vertically and along strike, with all 16 step-outs finding mineralization. The more outstanding assays showed:
- 1.91% over 33.5 metres, starting at 60.5 metres
- (including 14.09% over 3.5 metres)
- 1.41% over 22.5 metres, starting at 147.5 metres
- (including 12.03% over 2 metres)
- 3.13% over 13.5 metres, starting at 56.5 metres
- (including 8.14% over 5 metres)
- 0.92% over 5.5 metres, starting at 83.5 metres
- (including 2.29% over 2 metres)
- 0.53% over 27 metres, starting at 149.5 metres
- (including 4.31% over 1 metre)
- (and including 2.42% over 2.5 metres)
- 1.3% over 6.5 metres, starting at 160.5 metres
- (including 7.74% over 1 metre)
- 0.55% over 15.5 metres, starting at 183.5 metres
- (including 3.99% over 1.5 metres)
- 8.14% over 6 metres, starting at 215 metres
- (including 21.18% over 2 metres)
Again, true widths weren’t available.
Fission ended the winter with 88 holes totalling 28,296 metres and lots more assays to come. While R780E’s pre-eminence was confirmed by 50 mineralized holes out of a seasonal total of 51 on that zone, earlier results also brought renewed interest to the project’s R600W zone.
Purepoint finds semi-massive pitchblende in the Hook Lake JV’s last winter hole
A 40-metre step-out, the last hole of the season, added encouragement to Purepoint Uranium’s (TSXV:PTU) Hook Lake joint venture in the southwestern Basin. Announced April 15, hole HK15-33 gave up an 8.6-metre intercept starting at a downhole depth of 344 metres, averaging 8,900 counts per second with semi-massive pitchblende peaking at 32,600 cps. Another interval in the same hole averaged 1,500 cps for 4.4 metres starting at 304.5 metres in depth. True thicknesses were estimated at 75% to 85%.
The hole was collared 35 metres west of HK15-27, which last month revealed 2.23% U3O8 over 2.8 metres. Purepoint said another hole, HK15-31, backed up 35 metres from HK15-27 and found two intervals of 3.4 metres and 4.1 metres just under 0.05% eU3O8 between 387 and 396 metres in depth. The Spitfire zone remains open in most directions, the company added.
Purepoint gleaned its results from a hand-held scintillometer that measures drill core for radiation in counts per second, and two downhole probes that measure uranium oxide-equivalent. Applicable is the usual disclaimer that scintillometer results are no substitute for the still-pending assays.
Purepoint holds a 21% interest in the 28,683-hectare JV, with Cameco and AREVA Resources Canada each holding 39.5%.
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