Friday 23 April 2021

Paladin .... to buy deposits while uranium prices remain low.

Paladin offers stakes to power utilities; eyes uranium buys

SYDNEY, March 1, 2015

Australian uranium miner Paladin Energy is offering equity stakes to Electricite de France and other power utilities, and wants to acquire undeveloped deposits in a year or two, said its chief executive.

The world's seventh-largest uranium producer, Paladin is positioning itself for a shortage of the radioactive metal, starting in 2016, that may push prices upward after a four-year slump. Japan shut all of its nuclear reactors after the 2011 Fukushima meltdown, crimping demand.

Equity stakes would give one or two utilities valuable footholds in Paladin before any uranium shortage caused by reductions in supply and forecast higher demand in China and Japan, Chief Executive John Borshoff said in an interview.

Once utilities buy shares - perhaps 10 percent of the company - they would have the inside track on buying rights to deposits that Paladin might develop, he said.

"That gives them the golden key" to uranium supply, Borshoff said in an interview ahead of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada mining convention, which begins on Sunday in Toronto.

Paladin intends to buy deposits while uranium prices remain low, he said.

In January 2014, the company agreed to sell a 25 percent stake in its Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia for $190 million to a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

Electricite de France has an agreement to buy uranium from Paladin.

Currently, conditions are not so bullish.

Paladin, based in Perth, is trimming costs at Langer Heinrich, and idled its Kayelekera mine in Malawi last year due to low prices.

In February, the company reported a half-year loss of $59.3 million.

Paladin expects to produce 5.2 million to 5.5 million pounds (2.4 million 2.5 million kg) of uranium this year, less than last year's 5.6 million pounds (2.5 milion kg). Borshoff said he will not boost production until prices justify it.

But long-term contracts to sell uranium to utilities for $70 to $75 per lb - well above the January contract rate of $49.50 - would persuade Paladin to restart Kayelekera, he said.

The company is also developing the Michelin deposit in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador and hopes to produce uranium there in 2021.

Canada does not allow foreign companies to be majority owners of producing uranium mines. Borshiff said, however, that Paladin is holding productive talks with Ottawa about changing that.-Reuters

Tags: uranium | power utility |

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