27/09/2005 - 22:00

Korab tunes in to uranium developments

27/09/2005 - 22:00

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The clamour for the scrapping of Australia’s three uranium mines policy introduced by federal Labor in 1984 is growing louder, and it’s coming from within federal and state Labor ranks.

Korab tunes in to uranium developments

The clamour for the scrapping of Australia’s three uranium mines policy introduced by federal Labor in 1984 is growing louder, and it’s coming from within federal and state Labor ranks.

The stock market already recognises the writing’s on the wall, with a stream of junior uranium explorers and spin-offs hitting the boards, and being warmly welcomed with rising share prices.

Former Labor prime minister and party icon, Bob Hawke, has weighed into the debate saying Labor should abandon its three mines policy, promote Australia as a safe place for the world’s nuclear waste and use the money for local environmental issues.

The attitude of the Australian uranium explorers is echoed by Andrej Karpinski, executive chairman of recently listed Perth-based Korab Resources, which has just signed a joint venture to explore the Maitland uranium prospects, near Wiluna.

On listing Korab in August, Mr Karpinski said the company’s uranium focus would be on its Batchelor uranium project, south of Darwin and not WA, given the state’s ban on uranium mining.

However, Mr Karpinski told WA Business News he believed sections of the WA Government were becoming “more realistic”.

“I don’t believe the State Govern-ment‘s current stated position is likely to remain consistent given the widespread support for uranium mining,” Mr Karpinski said.

“I have had discussions with a number of MPs from the left and while they don’t support uranium mining outright, they may give support on a case-by-case basis and support a change in policy.”

The numbers tell the uranium story. The only significant commer-cial use for uranium is as a fuel for electricity generating nuclear power stations, of which there are 440 around the world, as opposed to using coal and gas.

While uranium consumption is currently around 80,700 tonnes a year (tpa), rising to 82,800tpa next year, production is just 48,800tpa and expected to rise to only 49,800tpa in 2006.

Prices have risen from about $US10 a pound in early 2003 to around $US30.75/pound. In 2005-2006, Australia’s uranium oxide production is expected to increase by more than 4 per cent to over 11,400t, worth $616 million in export earnings, up 30 per cent on the previous year.

Since listing at 25 cents, Korab’s shares have risen to 38 cents.

Shares in Resolute Mining, which has spun-off all its NT and Queensland uranium assets into soon-to-be-floated subsidiary Val-halla Uranium, have risen from 86 cents at the end of August to $1.44.

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