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May 24, 2010

Japan delays a restart of a reactor and Namibia is working to Quadruple Uranium Production by 2015

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1. Tokyo Electric Power Co said on Monday it has delayed the planned restart of the 1,100-megawatt No.1 nuclear unit at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant for an unplanned inspection and repairs. The quake-hit reactor was slated to be restarted on May 22, but in tests before the restart the power firm found problems with a pump vent, forcing it to postpone the restart. A TEPCO spokesman said that a new timetable for the restart of the unit had yet to be set, but that he anticipated the inspection and repairs to the unit would take about a week. So a restart sometime in June seems likely although another month or two of delay is possible.


2. Namibia, stung by the collapse of the diamond industry two years ago, is trying to diversify its $8.2 billion economy by exploiting uranium deposits that are the second-biggest in Africa.

The uranium industry accounted for 5.6 percent of Namibia’s gross domestic product last year. Projects coming on stream may boost uranium production fourfold to 40 million pounds (18,144 metric tons) within five years, Robin Sherbourne, group economist at Old Mutual Namibia, said in an interview. IHN estimates it may increase to 50 million pounds over the same period. Uranium companies are planning to spend more than $3 billion starting operations in Namibia, he said. In 2008, the country became the world’s fourth-biggest producer, up from sixth. The Moscow-based State Atomic Energy Corp., known as Rosatom Corp., said last week that Russia is prepared to invest about $1 billion developing uranium deposits in Namibia.

RBC Capital Markets cut its 2010 uranium forecast by 11 percent to $44.50 a pound from $50 last month as supplies increase, and said the metal may trade at $55 a pound next year and $75 a pound in 2012, when the market will move into deficit.

Among projects set to come on stream in Namibia is Rio Tinto’s extension of the world’s third-largest uranium mine, Rossing. The London-based company also has a 15 percent stake in Extract Resources, which plans to build the world’s second- largest uranium mine nearby. Areva, based in Paris, is constructing the $750 million Trekkopje mine. Bannerman Resources Ltd., based in Leaderville, Australia, is studying a $555 million mine east of the coastal town of Swakopmund.


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