May 07, 2008 Russia and U.S. sign nuclear trade pact Publisher: U3O8.biz Author: Luke Brocki
Forget the nuclear arms race. Russia and the United States are friends
again. The world's two largest nuclear powers signed a pact Tuesday to
strengthen their nuclear trade and devise innovative ways to stop the
spread of nuclear weapons.
Reuters reported the new deal would grant both countries access to the
booming U.S. nuclear sector and Russia's vast uranium deposits to
firms from both countries. It's set to do so by removing long-standing
restrictions that prevented bilateral trade, thus choking off billions
Above all, the agreement would simplify matters for U.S. and Russian
nuclear companies alike by allowing them to deal in nuclear goods
directly among themselves. In the United States, the bill must now
pass congressional muster. Once lawmakers have seen the bill, they'll
have 90 legislative days to pass a disapproval resolution. Russia's
parliament must also ratify the deal for it to be successful.
The Bush administration is pushing for the bill's approval as soon as
possible, despite criticism from other U.S. politicians who would
rather disconnect from Russia on grounds that country is helping fuel
Iran's nuclear ambitions.
In other U.S.-Russian collaboration news, scientists from the two
countries are working together to commercialize a new material for
radioactive waste storage. World Nuclear News reports the material is
an award-winning development of phosphate cement called Ceramicrete,
developed by Arun Wagh and Dileep Singh at Argonne National Laboratory
in the USA more than 10 years ago.
Wagh and Singh worked with scientists from the Russian Federal Nuclear
Center, which employs scientists formerly involved in the Soviet
Union's nuclear weapons program. The Ceramicrete formula blocks
neutrons and gamma rays, effectively blocking reactions with other
particles being emitted by stored material nearby. The technology also
allows for easy monitoring of closely packed nuclear waste.
In industry news, Blackmont Capital's George Topping says the Street
is being too optimistic about upcoming earning results at Cameco.
Topping told the National Post newspaper cash flow at the Canadian
uranium juggernaut will fall short of consensus after a string of
operating problems in 2007.
Adding to Cameco's troubles are continuing declines in spot uranium
prices and ongoing challenges at the company's Cigar Lake mine. Still,
the company is a stable beast thanks to an extensive hedge book, which
could prove invaluable in a bearish market.
In another interesting news morsel, Rio Tinto, the world's biggest
coal miner, announced it wants to double uranium production over the
next five years. The company already mines uranium at Rossing in
Namibia and at the Ranger Mine in Australia.
Meanwhile, French-owned energy giant Areva is gearing up to build a
$2-billion uranium plant in Idaho. The Associated Press reported the
company will build the enrichment plant near the Idaho National
Laboratory outside of Idaho Falls, a hotspot of nuclear energy
research since the 1940s. Areva plans to build the plant by 2014.
And watch for uranium partnerships popping up in Saskatchewan over the
next few months. That's according to David Skarica, editor of the
addictedtoprofits.net newsletter, who spoke to the Saskatoon Star
Phoenix newspaper at an investment conference.
Skarica believes Saskatchewan is six to seven years into a 15- to
20-year bull commodities market, with smaller exploration companies
now benefiting from a release of funds into the market and becoming
prime targets for takeovers, especially around when a discovery is
made. Cameco is being pegged as the prime candidate for pointing a
finger at partnerships with small junior miners.
In more news from Saskatchewan, a Vancouver company with a record of
helping junior explorers in that province use high technology to track
suitable uranium drill sites is opening an office in Saskatoon.
According to the Regina Leader Post newspaper, First Growth
Exploration and Development Service, known for its 3-D seismic imaging
of underground deposits, needs a Saskatoon office to analyze large
amounts of digital data and strengthen research links with the geology
department at the University of Saskatchewan.
Finally, the spot uranium price fell US$2 to US$63 a pound U3O8
according to price publisher Ux Consulting. Spot market activity
remains slow with just five transactions concluded in April and the
entry of more active supply applied further downward pressure on the
spot price that month.
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