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Uranium, Discussion
The End of Nuclear Power?
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post Posted: Sep 9 2014, 11:44 PM
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Paving the way for nuclear in Australia
09 September 2014

Australia's potential utilization of nuclear energy is several years away, but a roadmap has been drawn up by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) to clear the path for this, writes Warwick Pipe.

Almost all of Australia's current baseload generating capacity is provided by coal-fired plants, many of which are due to be retired over the next 20-30 years.

ATSE notes nuclear energy offers near-zero greenhouse gas emissions for baseload power supply. Levelised cost of energy modelling by the Australian Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics suggests that nuclear power, in the 2030 to 2050 timeframe, is economically competitive with a broad range of other low or zero emission baseload technologies.

However, despite having the world's largest known uranium resources, Australia has not utilized these for domestic power generation. According to ATSE, "On economic, social and environmental considerations in an international carbon-constrained policy environment, nuclear power should be included as an option for baseload power supply in Australia."

The academy says that nuclear power in Australia "does not yet have a social licence to operate or wide public support." Its use has been actively opposed by Australian governments at all levels for decades, it said. "Should Australia consider deploying nuclear power the need to first address community concerns is paramount," ATSE suggests. "Open public engagement is essential and the process should begin now."

ATSE has drawn up its Nuclear Energy Action Statement that supports its Energy Position Statement published in May. This "sets out the challenges and priority areas for, and a way forward to, low emission energy systems that are affordable, secure and reliable to support Australia's sustainable development and future prosperity." The Action Statement, developed by a team of academy fellows expert in nuclear energy, led by the chair of ATSE's Energy Forum Martin Thomas, seeks to generate open informed debate on the technology and its potential to take a place in the nation's future generation portfolio.

The soon-to-be-published Action Statement makes seven recommendations to progress nuclear as an energy option for Australia: a comprehensive business/economic analysis should be undertaken; alternative energy scenarios to the 2030-2050 timeframe should be evaluated; and active and open community engagement should commence, while a review of current policies that preclude its consideration is carried out. Current educational and training activities should be built on, including through secondments. It also recommends that regulatory requirements should be examined to determine the actions needed. Lastly, it calls for a strengthening of Australia's current overseas R&D program linkages, for example in thorium fission and hydrogen fusion.

"Australia's adoption of nuclear power generation will require a significantly enhanced regulatory regime, a process that will take several years," ATSE says. "An early start is needed to examine thoroughly the relevant issues to ensure readiness. This includes studies of nuclear power plant siting options, legal and regulatory frameworks, projected skills needs and appropriate educational and training facilities and regimes including seconding qualified Australians for training in overseas nuclear power plants."

"An extensive and openly transparent community engagement process should begin to build understanding of the benefits and safety of nuclear energy including gathering a deeper understanding of the attitudes of Australians," ATSE suggests.

Warwick Pipe

post Posted: Aug 29 2014, 11:53 PM
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China’s major hydropower company joins nuclear wave
China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and China Three Gorges Group (CTG) have signed a strategic cooperation agreement to invest in domestic nuclear power projects, and to promote the inland Taohuajiang nuclear power plant in Hunan province. CTG developed the huge Three Gorges hydropower project, now operated by its subsidiary China Yangtze Power (CYPC). CTG already holds 20% of the CNNC project company set up in 2007: CNNC Hunan Taohuajiang Nuclear Power Co Ltd (CNNC 50%), which is ready to build one of the first big inland nuclear power plants – four AP1000 reactors. However, the new agreement signals CTG’s substantial entry into nuclear power. Collaboration domestically will be between subsidiaries CNNP and CYPC, while international nuclear and hydropower goals would be pursued at higher level.

In addition to new reactor projects, CTG has agreed to invest in China’s nuclear power supply chain, including participating in CNNC's nuclear fuel operations, and on the R&D front promote development and construction of the demonstration fast reactor project. This is evidently the twin Russian BN-800 plant planned for Sanming, in Fujian province, where CNNC has the major stake in the project company. Russia’s NIAEP-Atomstroyexport expects contracts for the actual plant to be in place about the end of this year.

There is another interesting angle on the new China hydro-nuclear agreement. In September 2010 CYPC invested in EuroSibEnergo, a large private Russian hydropower company, and is exploring the potential for importing Siberian hydro power. The main assets of EuroSibEnergo are close to China’s border and the company is negotiating to export power to the northern and northeastern provinces of China where prices are higher. This is within the terms of a 2006 Russian-Chinese Intergovernmental Agreement which provides for export to China of up to 20 billion kWh per year by 2020. Eurosibenergo supplies RUSAL, the world’s largest aluminium smelting company - both companies are in the En+ group.
WNN 26/8/14. China NP, China organisations

Other papers significantly updated in the WNA Information Library (see WNA web site): Molten salt reactors (new, now live), Lithium (new), Plutonium, US NP policy, Poland, S.Korea

post Posted: Aug 20 2014, 12:36 AM
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Banking on nuclear
18 August 2014
The nuclear industry needs to satisfy the multi-criteria approach to risk that banks take when they decide whether to invest in a large infrastructure project. Only then, can it expect to attract this form of financing to nuclear new build projects, writes Ron Cameron.
Specifically, banks look for long-term certainty on price, stable government policy, industry reputation, regulatory certainty, the process for addressing planning and environmental issues and public acceptance, in addition to the economics of the project.
European wholesale electricity markets are currently not favourable to nuclear power, however. That's because the role of nuclear in offsetting the negative effect on price of feed-in tariffs and grid priorities for renewable forms of energy is not adequately recognised. The cost to the system of having intermittency of supply is often borne by the nuclear plants through their role in providing back-up generating capacity or otherwise by the consumer through higher electricity prices, subsidies or taxes. With no level playing field for nuclear in liberalised electricity markets, there is a real difficulty in seeing where nuclear new build is going to come from in Europe, without government action. We need to explicitly recognise the advantages that nuclear power provides to stabilise these markets long term, to support the move to a low carbon economy and to help with security of supply.
Through its Electricity Market Reform (EMR), the UK government is essentially agreeing to regulate a liberalised market. There is a strike price and contracts-for-difference in the EMR not only for offshore and onshore wind and solar, but also for nuclear power. And there will be a capacity market for the electricity that's left. Through these mechanisms, the UK is trying to do something about the market disadvantage which is keeping investors away from nuclear. If there is no opposition from the European Commission and these structures are proven to work, potential investors will be able to expect certainty of a return. Fortunately, the UK's market mechanism policy has cross-party support; since without a supportive energy policy, it's very unlikely that a bank will come in and fund a project knowing that the next government might change that agreement.
Other countries, too, are making clear that the State is behind nuclear new build. For example, in the US, new nuclear power plants are being built with loan guarantees and tax credits. These enable the industry to build a track record of successful projects, which is really the key to attracting banks to a financing arrangement. Other mechanisms are seen in Finland - where large industrial companies are willing to join together to fund the cost of a new-build nuclear program in return for receiving electricity at cost price - and Russia, where Rosatom offers new nuclear countries build-own-operate agreements.
"Our focus should be on trying to get banks into plant life extensions."
Banks are reluctant to become involved with first-of-a-kind projects, whether that concerns a new reactor technology or a country embarking on nuclear power for the first time. Our focus then should perhaps be on trying to get banks into new projects at existing sites, such as plant life extensions. The latter is a lower risk process because the banks would be funding the cost of upgrades needed for plants whose construction costs have been essentially amortized and yet which could run for another 20 years. And there are usually no great public concerns attached to life extensions, since the plant has already operated for some time. If the banks got involved with those and became familiar with nuclear industry issues, then they could one day be willing to join a consortium in new build projects. Banks look particularly at the track record of the industries that they are working with. And of course there is always the concern of delays for them. So some certainty that the government is behind these projects and prepared to support them with some form of guarantee is important.
Regulatory certainty also affects issues of timing and risk and so there needs to be some degree of certainty on the approval processes before large investments are made. In the UK, this is being done through the Generic Design Assessment process, prior to construction, and in the US by the Combined Construction and Operating Licence process.
Banks also monitor public opinion, but even more importantly, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the European Investment Bank are driven by the appetite from their member countries for financing nuclear power projects. It is up to the consortia of countries that are in favour of nuclear power to have more of a say on the banks' boards.
Ron Cameron

post Posted: Aug 16 2014, 03:39 PM
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This is probably not the best U3O8 chart available but it's the best I could find to put the article recently posted on the PDN thread into context. Maybe some people carry these numbers in their head, but I like to look at a picture.

Source: http://www.uxc.com/review/UxCPrices.aspx

Here's an extract from the article (also on the other thread):

It's news that's almost worth writing home about! Uranium investors will be pleased to note that the uranium spot price showed some signs of life this week. U3O8 prices have managed to claw their way up to $30 for the first time since late spring.

Source: http://uraniuminvestingnews.com/19396/uran...sin-cameco.html

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post Posted: Aug 9 2014, 01:21 AM
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NexGen Energy Drill Results Hint at District-scale Mineralization
Thursday August 7, 2014, 1:15pm PDT

By Vivien Diniz+ - Exclusive to Uranium Investing News

http://uraniuminvestingnews.com/files/2010...h-in-Canada.jpgAthabasca Basin uranium exploration and development company NexGen Energy (TSXV:NXE) has announced the first assay results from drill hole AR-14-15, completed during this summer’s program at its wholly owned portion of the Rook I property. The AR-14-15 drill hole was angled to the northwest in order to target subvertical to steeply dipping mineralization at the Arrow discovery.
What the results from drill hole AR-14-15 show is an upper high-grade uranium interval of 22.35 meters; it returned 3.42-percent U3O8 and includes 10.72-percent U3O8 over 6.85 meters, 15.74 percent over 4.5 meters and 26.1 percent over 2.6 meters. The highest-grade assay result within the interval shows 55.8-percent U3O8 over 0.45 meters. At a lower level, the high-grade intervals were found at 32 meters and have a grade of 1.52-percent U3O8, including 10.4-percent U3O8 over 3.15 meters. The highest-grade assay within the interval measures 43.7-percent U3O8 over 0.35 meters.

As CEO Leigh Curyer said in the company’s press release, NexGen’s primary objective with the summer program was to establish a “large area of mineralization.” That, said Curyer, was achieved quickly through aggressive, large step outs.

“In only 22 holes, the team has established a mineralized zone of 515 x 180 m. Secondary, was to obtain an assessment on grade. These are the highest grade assay results over significant intervals to date at Arrow, which have exceeded expectation considering the stage of development. Arrow is developing faster than we ever anticipated at the beginning of the program,” Curyer explained.

As Resource Reports said on August 6, prior to the release of NexGen’s assay results, the company’s previous nine, widely spaced holes, five of which had off-scale radioactivity, provided investors with an “early glimpse to see if a guerilla is lurking in the jungle.”

Indeed, shortly following the news, Cantor Fitzgerald’s Rob Chang issued a note to clients, calling the AR-14-15 drill hole a “world-class calibre hole.” Encouraged by the results from the assay, Chang noted, “[t]his news lends further credence that we have district scale uranium mineralization in the south-western portion of the Athabasca Basin.”

And sure enough, the Southwestern Athabasca Basin does hold potential. With Fission Uranium (TSXV:FCU) churning out drill hole after drill hole of impressive results only 6 kilometers to the south of Rook I at Patterson Lake and UEX’s (TSX:UEX) Shea Creek project also located in the area, NexGen’s results are encouraging.

As Resource Reports notes, “NexGen investors can only have faith in a repeat performance of the Fission Uranium discovery just 6 kilometers south of NexGen’s Arrow discovery.” Likewise, Chang told Uranium Investing News that “NexGen’s results today are the first time we’ve seen anyone other than Fission and UEX provide a world-class hole. It does show that there may be a district-scale play here.”

Given the encouraging results, NexGen has increased the drill program from the initial 13,500 meters to 18,500 meters.

On the back of the news today, NexGen’s share price is up 11.76 percent, at $0.38.

post Posted: Aug 2 2014, 03:44 AM
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BHP Billiton lateral thinking on ore processing for Olympic Dam
Having baulked at the $28 billion cost of a major development of the mine two years ago, BHP Billiton has applied for government approval to build and operate a demonstration-scale heap leaching plant at its Olympic Dam mine, as the company looks for more economical ways of expanding the South Australian project. Heap leaching has not previously been used for uranium ore in Australia (that at Rum Jungle over 1965-71 was for copper), though it is increasingly favoured for low-grade hard-rock uranium ores overseas. Laboratory and pilot scale trials of the technique using run of mill ore from the existing operations have shown promising results to date. The company expects to start construction of the demonstration plant in the second half of 2015, with a three-year trial period starting in late 2016.

Some 36,000 tonnes of ore - about one day's current mine production - will be used in the trial. The ore will be crushed, placed on an impermeable leach pad and treated with sulphuric acid for 300 days. This is expected to recover most of the uranium, and with the help of bacteria, around half of the copper. The uranium would then be removed from the pregnant liquor by solvent extraction, after which the copper would be removed electrolytically. This essentially reverses the present sequence where most of the uranium is recovered by acid leaching the mill tailings after copper sulphide flotation. Following the heap leaching, the depleted ore remaining will be further crushed, ground and put through the flotation plant on site to recover the rest of the copper as sulphide, which would then be smelted as at present for all production.
WNN 31/7/14. Australian U mining


post Posted: Aug 2 2014, 03:24 AM
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Queensland prepared for uranium mining
01 August 2014

The government of the Australian state of Queensland says it is now ready to accept applications for uranium mining projects following its announcement of a new regulatory framework. The state lifted its long-standing ban on uranium mining in 2012.

Mine minister Andrew Cripps today released "a modern and robust" framework to ensure that uranium mining in Queensland is carried out according to the world's best environmental protection and safety standards.

The government said the framework "provides regulatory efficiency and investment certainty" for uranium mining in Queensland. It "adopts the same obligations that apply to existing mineral tenure holders, including compliance with land access and native title laws."

Under the framework, applications for uranium mining projects will be assessed by the Queensland Coordinator-General, while environmental assessments and approvals for projects will be completed jointly by the state and Australian governments. Any uranium mined in Queensland will only be exported to countries that have a bilateral safeguard arrangement with Australia. Uranium will be exported through existing licensed ports in Darwin and South Australia as there are currently no ports in Queensland licensed for the export of uranium.

The Queensland government has established the Uranium Mining Oversight Committee (UMOC) to facilitate open discussions between state government departments and to oversee the development of the uranium industry in Queensland. It said a stakeholder committee will also be established "when there is more certainty about the development of a uranium mine."

"The framework paves the way for new investment opportunities, taking into account all relevant issues across the uranium mining life cycle such as strict environmental standards, safe handling, transportation and risk management for safety and health," the state government said.

Cripps said, "It is now up to industry to decide when to lodge applications for uranium mining and those decisions will be influenced by a number of factors including global commodity prices, market supply and demand and mining costs."

Lifting the ban

Uranium was first mined in Queensland in the 1950s, but no uranium has been mined there since the closure of the Mary Kathleen mine in 1982. In 1989, the election of a state government led by the Australian Labor Party effectively saw uranium mining, but not exploration, prohibited in the state until the election of a Liberal-National Party led government in March 2012. Seven months later, the ban on uranium mining was lifted.

"Labor's ban on uranium mining was purely ideological," said Cripps, "but we have taken steps to ensure this valuable resource is unlocked for the benefit of all Queenslanders."

Queensland's department of natural resources and mines estimates the uranium resource potential of the state at 165.95 million tonnes of ore with a total uranium oxide content of 107,000 tonnes (90,730 tU).

Cripps also announced the release of the former Mary Kathleen uranium mine for competitive tender for rare earths exploration.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

post Posted: Jun 22 2014, 07:50 AM
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Taiwan backs off on completion of new plant
In response to ongoing political discord, the Taiwan government has ordered unit 1 of the new Lungmen nuclear power plant near Taipei to be ‘sealed’ once safety checks are complete and before loading fuel, and construction of unit 2 – now 90% complete - to be halted. A referendum on the future of the plant will be held. Lungmen comprises two GE-Hitachi Advanced Boiling Water Reactors of 1350 MWe each. Construction began in 1999 with intention of 2004 completion, but political interference from an early stage has delayed construction and greatly increased costs. In addition, the Atomic Energy Council of Taiwan has been scathing concerning management of the project. Some $9.9 billion has been spent on the plant so far.

Taiwan imports 97% of its energy and depends on nuclear power from six reactors for a quarter of its base-load power and 16% of electricity overall. Its oldest reactors are due to start closing from 2017. Nuclear power is by far the lowest cost source of Taiwan’s electricity, and the Minister for Economic Affairs has warned that power prices will rise substantially without the new nuclear capacity. In marked contrast to mainland China, there has been significant opposition to nuclear power in Taiwan for more than a decade.
WNN 28/4/14. Taiwan

post Posted: Jun 20 2014, 11:23 PM
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Japan bleeds as nuclear capacity remains shut down
Japan's ongoing reliance on imported fossil fuels while its nuclear reactors await permission to restart continues to impact on the country's trade deficit and greenhouse gas emissions. The 2014 Annual Report on Energy, published by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), shows that Japan depended on imported fossil fuels for 88% of its electricity in fiscal year 2013, compared with 62% in fiscal 2010, the last full year before the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The additional fuel costs that Japan faced in fiscal 2013 to compensate for its nuclear reactors being idled was ¥3.6 trillion ($35.2 billion). Japan reported a trade deficit of ¥11.5 trillion ($112 billion) for the year, largely due directly and indirectly to these additional fuel costs. This is much more than the 2012 trade deficit, and follows a ¥6.6 trillion ($65 billion) surplus in 2010. Electricity consumption has decreased since 2010 and tariffs for industrial users have increased 28%.

Emissions from electricity generation accounted for 486 Mt CO2 (36.2%) of the country's total in fiscal 2012, compared with 377 Mt (30% of total) in 2010.
WNN 17/6/14. Japan

post Posted: Apr 15 2014, 03:16 AM
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In Reply To: mullokintyre's post @ Apr 9 2014, 08:06 AM

Japan’s New Energy Plan Could be Positive for Uranium’s Future
Monday April 14, 2014, 4:30am PDT By Teresa Matich - Exclusive to Uranium Investing News

Japan isn’t giving up on nuclear yet, and its Cabinet’s recent approval of a new energy plan could be the first step toward a uranium market turnaround. The plan calls the heavy metal “an important baseload power source,” reinstating its importance in the Japanese energy mix.

The plan also confirms that Japan’s “[nuclear] reactors will be restarted once their safety is confirmed,” and is the first since Japan halted the operation of its nearly 50 nuclear reactors following the Fukushima disaster in early 2011.

Thursday night, the Japanese government approved the energy plan following drafts released earlier this year. A prior draft meant to be released in January was seen by a panel of experts as too dependent on nuclear energy, but Reuters states that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe fought for months to convince fellow Cabinet members to accept a draft that reinstates nuclear power. Still, Japanese Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told the news outlet, “[t]he plan makes clear we will reduce reliance on nuclear power through a variety of measures.”

Reactors back online?

Japan has struggled so far this year to restart its nuclear reactors, and the official statement on the issue in its energy report signals that the island nation is serious about getting its plants up and running. The country’s Nuclear Regulation Authority as well as local governments must still give final approval for individual restarts, but as Raymond James analyst David Sadowski explains in a note to investors, the statement still represents “a major hurdle cleared in the effort to restart the nation’s reactors this year.”

Sadowski also said, “we believe that NRA approvals on [the first] units may come as soon next week as part of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum in Tokyo.”

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Rob Chang has similar views regarding the energy plan’s approval, commenting in a note to investors, “[w]e did see this as a rubber stamp however it did take longer than we thought. We expect 2-6 reactors to be approved and/or restarted this year — two in the next three months.”

Others are more wary. Reuters points out that high upgrade costs, local opposition and seismic risks could mean that many reactors will stay closed despite the recent announcement, while Paris-based independent energy consultant Mycle Schneider told the publication, “I think it is unavoidable that the Japanese utilities will write off most of their nuclear ‘assets’ and move on.” However, Japan’s resource-poor economy cannot continue to support current levels of spending on the costly fossil fuels that have replaced nuclear since the reactor shutdowns.

As Akio Mimura, chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stated, “[i]t is essential to quickly recover a low-cost and stable power supply system by restarting reactors whose safety is confirmed.”

A catalyst the market has been waiting for

Uranium Investing News wrote in February that uranium market watchers have been waiting for a definitive signal that Japan is ready to put its reactors back to work, and Thursday’s energy plan approval could be the “rubber stamp” that this is about to happen soon.

Sadowski sees “restarts as the most important catalyst for increased utility contracting and eventual higher uranium prices.” He calls the “increased visibility on restarts” a “critical psychological catalyst for the sector,” and states that once the first reactors start to return, global utilities will end their 17-month buyers’ strike for the metal.

However, Sadowski also notes that the uranium spot price was at an eight-year low of US$33.30 per pound last week, and suggests that prices will stay below $40 through 2014. He writes that progress in Japan will be more effective at strengthening uranium equities in the near future, but that uranium prices will wait for the medium and long term before rising.

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