Conversations about Iran’s uranium enrichment program are back on the table following a meeting in late September between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations (the UK, US, France, China, Russia and Germany) in New York. The Islamic country’s uranium enrichment program was first introduced in 2002 and since then has been the reason behind debilitating western sanctions imposed on Iran.
In the renewed discussions, Iran has said that its intentions with the nuclear program are peaceful and aimed at generating electricity and producing radio isotopes to treat cancer patients. Iranian President Hassan Rouhanistated that Iran “has nothing to hide,” pledging that it will “keep doors of our nuclear facilities open to IAEA inspection.”
Rouhani was open to discussing the details of its nuclear activities, however he maintained that “Iran’s enrichment right is not negotiable but we must enter into talks to see what would the other side proposes to us about the details.”
Even so, concerns that a nuclear program in Iran could lead to weaponization continue to plague world leaders.The most vocal opposer has been Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged US President Barack Obama to keep the sanctions on Iran in place. “If diplomacy is to work, those pressures must be kept in place,” Netanyahu told the president during an Oval Office meeting.
For the most part, the United States has not changed its stance on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Further negotiations on the subject are slated to take place in mid-October in Geneva.
Uranium prices fail to impress
With the last quarter of 2013 upon us, uranium prices are still failing to impress investors. Uranium consultancy firm UxC reported that on September 30, uranium spot prices sat at $35 per pound of U3O8, a $0.15 decrease from the previous week’s figure. Competing uranium price and analysis firm TradeTech concluded that although uranium spot prices picked up in the last week of September, market players either concluded or decided to postpone their buying.
Lackluster uranium prices are taking their toll on mining companies like Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN), which has been cutting spending anywhere it sees fit. Most recently, the company announced job cuts at its head office and base salary cuts of 10 percent for managers. The company wrote down US$420.9 million in 2012/2013 due to the weak uranium price devaluing its assets.
Canada-based uranium exploration junior Lakeland Resources (TSXV:LK,FSE:6LL) started exploration at its wholly owned Riou Lake uranium property, which is situated on the northern rim of the prolific Athabasca Basin in Saskatchewan. Lakeland will be focusing on the Gibbon’s Creek target and will pursue surface prospecting and boulder sampling with hand-held scintillometers. The company will also be undertaking a RadonEx soil gas radon survey, line cutting and a ground DC resistivity geophysical survey.
Lakeland aims to start its initial drill program at Gibbon’s Creek in Q1 2014.
On October 3, Fission Uranium Corp. (TSXV:FCU,OTCQX:FCUUF) entered into an amended letter of engagement with Dundee Securities Ltd. on behalf of a syndicate of underwriters including Raymond James Ltd., Cantor Fitzgerald Canada Corporation, Canaccord Genuity Corp. and Macquarie Capital Markets Canada Ltd. Through the agreement, the Underwriters will purchase 7,500,000 subscription receipts, exchangeable into flow-through common shares of Fission, by way of a private placement on a “bought deal” basis, subject to all required regulatory approvals, at a price per Subscription Receipt of $1.50, for total gross proceeds of $11,250,000.
Uranium golden child Fission Uranium and joint venture partner Alpha Minerals (TSXV:AMW) also made headlines last week as the companies capped off September with yet another impressive announcement. This time, the companies released news that since the 2013 winter program, zone R390E has quadrupled in length. This assessment includes the new strike length of 255 meters. The companies also released the results of eight further drill holes at R390E; all intersected narrow to wide zones of mineralization with varying degrees of radioactivity.
On September 25, Canadian International Minerals (TSXV:CIN) announced that it has entered into an option agreement through which it will grant Rio Grande Mining (TSXV:RGV) the option to acquire an undivided 75-percent interest in certain mineral claims. The claims consist of two groups, Britts Lake East and Firebag East/Descharme, and total 15 claims in an area of 18,041 hectares. The properties are located in close proximity to the Patterson Lake South discovery.
Uranium Participation (TSX:U) reported its financial results for the second quarter ended August 31, 2013. Total equity was down $69.3 million for the three months in 2013 ended August 31, 2013 and $89.3 million for the six months ended on that date. The company cites unrealized losses on investments of $68.1 million and $87.2 million, respectively.
Securities Disclosure: I, Vivien Diniz, hold no investment interest in any companies mentioned in this article.