SXR Uranium One sees strong price, output growth

SXR Uranium One sees strong price, output growth

Uranium One said on Monday it expected its output to grow significantly over the next few years to pip top producer Cameco Corp. by 2013 on current estimates.

Uranium One Chief Executive Neal Froneman said prices for uranium would also grow steadily and viewed the company’s production profile as healthy, and well distributed globally with output from Kazakhstan, South Africa and the United States.

Uranium prices have shot higher over the last seven years as renewed interest in nuclear energy has driven demand well above supply, following years of sluggish exploration.

“We can bring a new project into production every year up to 2013,” he told a media briefing in Johannesburg, saying the growth would come from both organic expansion and acquisitions.

He predicted spot prices would hit $150 a pound before the end of the year, up from $7 in 2000, but said prices paid by utilities over the long term would likely be around $60 a pound.

Froneman said Uranium One expects to produce 27.9 million pounds of uranium by 2013 from its current output of 2.5 million pounds. The already approved projects will see 10.3 million pounds of uranium produced by 2013.

Cameco was forecast to produce 27.2 million pounds of uranium by 2013, Froneman said.

Uranium One already has assets in Australia, the United States, Kazakhstan and South Africa, and last month offered to buy Toronto-listed Energy Metals Corp. — the top U.S. uranium producer — in an all-stock deal worth about C$1.4 billion ($1.34 billion).

Of particular interest to Uranium One was expanding its market size in the United States, which is by far the world’s largest generator of nuclear energy, and is currently attempting to boost output to reduce reliance on other energy sources, Froneman said.

“There is a nuclear renaissance in the U.S,” he said.

The U.S. government had given new incentives to build nuclear reactors, and for the first time in 30 years new reactor applications had been received, with 27 such applications expected this year, he said.

Energy Metals has several properties in the western United States. Uranium One is also prospecting in Canada and Australia.

In South Africa, Uranium One was busy expanding its Dominion Reefs Uranium mine (DRUM) near Johannesburg, and work was largely on schedule to produce 500,000 million pounds of uranium by end-2007, Froneman said.

Froneman said there was urgency in expanding the company before the market regained its balance, and he expected demand to continue to outstrip supply, due to the long time lag between exploration and production, up to about 2015.

“Once uranium market is in balance, growth will be marginal,” he said.


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