Rose Petroleum plc


Vane confident of uranium focus

AIM-listed junior uranium explorer Vane Minerals says it will have claimed up to 25 uranium properties with resources or past production in North America by the end of the month, though the company remains coy about specifics.

"We don't really want to attract too much attention to the area, although there is attention there already," the commercial director of the London based company Matthew Idiens told MiningNews earlier in the week.

"We have set up a subsidiary and we have seven properties out there in the field and will be claiming the rest of it pretty soon, we should have a better idea of where we stand towards the end of the month."

Idiens was adamant that Vane wasn't just trying to cash in on the hype that's come with the explosion of interest in the controversial commodity.

"I wouldn't say there is hot air surrounding the commodity itself. There is underlying economics saying that demand outstrips supply and therefore prices should continue to rise. With global governments returning to the positive sides of nuclear energy this should be a long-term trend rather than a short-term bubble," he said.

"What there may be a bubble around is a company's share price on the back of uranium. There is a lot of these cash shells set up to look for uranium and they go to a massive premium and then of course they never really come up with anything.

"One certain company raised some money over here, I'm not going to say what company it is, but by all accounts they have one geologist working in the whole of Africa. Your hopes aren't very high of finding something working in the whole of Africa [with one geologist] because it is a big old place,"

However Idiens conceded there was some concern with the number of companies setting up to take advantage of the boom.

"There is more of a worry in that it is going to give the commodity a bad name and the companies that trade in it," he said.

"From the outset our company strategy was to find a high-grade mine to put into production so it would then pay for the exploration and we would be a self-funded exploration company. Our expertise is in exploration and we believe we have achieved this in a little project called Diablito in Mexico which is literally about to go into production any week now," Idiens said.

Idiens said Diablito was set to generate $US250,000 a month in profit from a seven-year mine life which would then be directed back into exploration including widening the search for future uranium assets.

"We have another project in Mexico, Mina Charay, which we hope to turn into another cash flow project and that would basically mean all of our budget is paid for in the foreseeable future plus some money on top.

"Certainly there doesn't seem to be any option money in our share price at the moment. We are more or less valued at what our assets are with regard to the production side of things and the exploration side of our business doesn't seem to be valued. Which in my view is, as they say, an endless blue sky," Idiens said.

The so-called blue sky includes the acquisition of exclusive rights to the extensive Freeport McMoran exploration database, with chief executive officer Steve Van Nort, previously vice-president of global exploration with the copper and gold major, negotiating rights to the database as part of his retirement package.

Indeed four of the companies founding directors were with the copper and gold major.

"In 2000 Freeport decided to concentrate on Grasberg in Indonesia and not bother with global exploration because they are getting around a billion a quarter," Idiens said.

"So we have got this 100 years of exploration database that we have been sifting through, identifying projects that in the 40's and 50's didn't offer any opportunities. Obviously now because of the prices of gold, silver, and because of improved mining techniques they may now be viable mining projects."