A look at the uranium companies working in the world’s highest-grade uranium district.
Those interested in the uranium space know that Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin contains the highest-grade uranium deposits in the world, and is a major hot spot for explorers. The region is also home to the world’s largest uranium mine, McArthur River, which accounts for 13 percent of global uranium production. With that in mind, the Investing News Network has put together a list of Athabasca Basin uranium companies to watch.
Major miner Cameco (TSX:CCO,NYSE:CCJ) holds a 69.8-percent stake in McArthur River and is its operator, while AREVA Resources Canada, a subsidiary of AREVA (EPA:AREVA), owns the other 30.2 percent. To date, McArthur River has yielded 269.7 million pounds of uranium and holds over 1 million tonnes of proven plus probable reserves. Cameco also operates and owns a 50-percent stake in the world’s second-largest high-grade uranium deposit, Cigar Lake, also located in the Athabasca Basin.
On the exploration front, Cameco has a 39.5-percent interest in the Hook Lake project. AREVA Resources Canada also holds 39.5 percent, while Purepoint Uranium (TSXV:PTU) holds a 21-percent interest and is the project’s operator. Hook Lake consists of nine claims totaling 28,683 hectares, and has three prospective corridors. Current exploration is focused on the Patterson Lake corridor, a conductive trend that also hosts Fission Uranium’s (TSX:FCU) Triple R deposit.
Fission has continued to release positive results and expand the footprint of various zones at Triple R, located at its Patterson Lake South (PLS) property, through step-out drilling programs. The company released its maiden resource estimate for PLS in January 2015, and it came in higher than expected. The property has an indicated mineral resource of 79,610,000 pounds of U3O8 based on 2,291,000 tonnes at an average grade of 1.58 percent U3O8. Its inferred mineral resource sits at 25,884,000 pounds of U3O8 based on 901,000 tonnes at an average grade of 26.35 percent U3O8.
More recently, Fission announced plans to merge with Denison Mines (TSX:DML); the deal will create a new uranium company called Denison Energy and will be owned 50/50 by both companies.
Alpha Exploration (TSXV:AEX), which was spun out from the former Alpha Minerals, is another uranium company that has significant experience in the basin. In fact, Alpha discovered the PLS property alongside Fission prior to being acquired by Fission and spun out in a deal back in December 2013. The deal saw Alpha Exploration keep all of Alpha Minerals’ assets save PLS; it also retained a fully intact board and management team, as well as C$3 million.
More recently Alpha announced plans to merge with Lakeland Resources (TSXV:LK). The deal will give the newly formed company a large portfolio in the Athabasca Basin, including a combined version of Lakeland’s Carter Lake project and Alpha’s Hook Lake project.
Also located in the PLS area is junior Aldrin Resource (TSXV:ALN). The company has the option to earn up to a 70-percent interest in the Triple M property, which is located adjacent to Fission’s PLS project.
More Athabasca Basin uranium companies
Another uranium exploration company making major headway in the Athabasca Basin is NexGen Energy (TSXV:NXE). NexGen has continued to release encouraging drill results, and its most recent step-out drilling saw all five holes hit substantial mineralization. Highlights include hole AR-15-48c3, which intersected 170.5 meters of total composite mineralization, including 13.2 meters of off-scale radioactivity (>10,000 to >61,000 cps) within a 530.5-meter section.
Rob Chang, senior analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, said at the time that NexGen Energy remains his firm’s top pick and noted that these most recent assays will have a very positive impact on the firm’s resource estimate for Rook I. Cantor Fitzgerald is forecasting a resource of 114.9 million pounds of U3O8 at an average grade of 0.89 percent. Drill rigs continues to turn at Rook I as part of the company’s $9-million, 25,000-meter summer drill program, which began on June 8.
Forum Uranium (TSXV:FDC) is another Canada-based uranium exploration company focused on the Athabasca Basin, with various projects on the go. The company is currently developing its recently discovered Fir Island project, and saw several holes hit uranium in its initial drill program in June. Besides Fir Island, Forum has four other drill-ready projects in the basin: Henday, a joint venture with Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO,NYSE:RIO,LSE:RIO), Key Lake Road, Clearwater and NWA, a joint venture with Cameco, AREVA and NexGen. Clearwater is on trend with PLS, and is currently 100 percent owned by Forum; however, Uracan Resources (TSXV:URC) has the option to earn a 70-percent interest in the project.
Skyharbour Resources (TSXV:SYH) also has a few projects on the go in the Athabasca Basin, some of which it acquired from Denison in May 2014. More recently, Skyharbour began a drill program at its Preston project, a 50/50 joint venture with Athabasca Nuclear (TSXV:ASC). The project was once split four ways with a consortium of companies known as the Western Athabasca Syndicate; the dynamic changed at the launch of the summer drill program as the other two members of the syndicate, Rojo Resources (TSXV:RJ) and Noka Resources (TSXV:NX), failed to meet their cash call.
The company has also been making progress at its Falcon Point uranium and thorium project, where a drill program has just been completed. Assay results from soil, chip and biogeochem samples are expected to be released over the next few weeks.
Other companies working in the region include Azincourt Uranium (TSXV:AAZ) with its Patterson Lake North property, Atom Energy (TSXV:AGY), formerly Athabasca Uranium, with its Keefe Lake and McCarthy Lake projects, and Aben Resources (TSXV:ABN), which owns a 40-percent interest in the Mann Lake project, which is located 25 kilometers south of McArthur Lake. Skyharbour owns the other 60 percent of Mann Lake.
Did we miss a uranium company focused on the Athabasca Basin? Let us know in the comments.
Securities Disclosure: I, Kristen Moran, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.