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November 06, 2006

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Ren

Commodities have gone up, yes... including the essential arsenic needed for poisonous solar panels.

On the other hand, Uranium is ephemerally, artificially high, because of historical low demand, but big players are out to fix that.

Read:
WORLD'S RICHEST MAN NOW MINING URANIUM

Sweden has long been a bellwether for social progress and change. Shortly after Three Mile Island, the Swedes held a referendum on expanding nuclear energy in their country. Sweden voted it down. But, political climates change.

Sweden's four-party opposition bloc, known as the Alliance, is challenging the Social Democrat-led government for control of the Riksdag, the country's parliament. The Alliance's main objectives is to cut the country's property tax, and eventually remove it. Each year, Swedes must pay a tax equivalent to one percent of a single family home's tax value. The other item on the Alliance's agenda is moving forward with the country's nuclear energy policy.

Amid other reforms, Sweden's nuclear energy and uranium policies are being be revived. the Alliance has realized there is no viable alternative to nuclear for the time being.

Sweden's Dependency on Nuclear Energy
At first glance, we bought the same anti-nuclear propaganda the rest of the world's media swallowed. In other words, we were misled into believing Sweden was phasing out its nuclear power plants. Perhaps, you also heard that Sweden was shutting down its nuclear fleet. The reality is quite the opposite. The country's ten nuclear reactors produce about 75 billion kWh. This accounts for 51 percent of Sweden's electricity production! In 2006, about fourteen percent of Sweden's electricity was exported!

The major media would have us believe Swedes are anti-nuclear. This conclusion was reached after Sweden's 1980 referendum on the country's nuclear power program. But, Swedish voters were offered three very limited choices about continuing the build up on Sweden's nuclear energy program, to which the answers could only have been: NO, No and no, depending upon the loudness with which a voter voiced his "no." Few were surprised at the outcome. Yet, no reactors were phased out . What was never publicized was that a clear majority of the Swedish voters believed the existing reactors should continue running until new energy sources replaced nuclear.

A 1996 survey conducted by the Confederation of Swedish Industries appalled the anti-nuclear movement - about 80 percent of those surveyed were in favor of nuclear power. Subsequent Swedish polls showed as few as 10 percent of those surveyed wanted nuclear energy phased out. About the same percentage wants to protect Sweden's four remaining rivers from future hydro construction. By contrast, three-quarters of Swedes polled gave "restraining greenhouse gas emissions" the highest environmental priority.

Sweden depends upon fossil fuels for less than ten percent of its electricity generation. You do the math. For future electricity generation, Swedes must face a choice between increasing their nuclear power capacity and escalating their meager dependence upon fossil fuels. A March 2006 poll revealed an astounding 83 percent of those surveyed would support the country's plans to maintain, or even increase, its nuclear power program.

The choice may already exist in Swedish laws. A spokesman for the German Atomic Forum, Christian Woessner, pointed out in a recent media interview, "Under Swedish law the (nuclear) plants can not be closed until there is a viable alternative." Because Sweden is about 47-percent dependent on nuclear power, Swedish parliament has repeatedly delayed plans to shut down it stations. What once were target dates of 2010 have been reportedly moved back as far away as the year 2050. A recent Swedish article discussed a summary of investments in the country's energy sector through the end of the decade. More than 25 percent will be invested in modernizing and upgrading Swedish nuclear plants.
Increased Uranium Exploration Activity

At this time, uranium mining is banned in Sweden. Will that soon change? In November 2005, Platts carried a news item that the world's second largest uranium producer Cogema, a subsidiary of Areva, was spending about 1.7 million euros on prospecting in Sweden. The industry giant announced plans to narrow down mining sites, after its initial prospecting. Krister Soederholm, chief inspector of mining at the Ministry of Trade & Industry, told Platts that Sweden would respond positively if Cogema's activity "would be of significant benefit to the country." Conscientious Sweden is still reeling from a recent media expose showing that the country now imports a large portion of its uranium from Kazakhstan, where mining conditions are reportedly abysmal.

On July 11th, one Canadian-traded uranium development company announced its NI 43-101 resource for three of its uranium properties in Sweden. We spoke with Michael Hudson, Chief Executive of Mawson Resources (TSX: MAW; Frankfurt: MRY), about the company's prospects. First, he explained that Sweden hasn't had any uranium drilling since about 1984 or 1985. "It's the only part of the nuclear cycle the Swedes are missing out on," Hudson told us. He hopes to bring uranium mining back to Sweden.

Mawson has focused its exploration/development efforts in the northerly provinces. "Those are mining districts," said Hudson. "People are comfortable with mining in that part of the world." In the past three years, three new mines have been opened. Despite the latitude, Hudson explained, "Mines up there are running all year around." On that basis, Hudson began negotiating for uranium properties in late 2003, before the uranium bull market had gained traction. He began acquiring properties, previously drilled by the Swedish government at a cost of $46 million in 1970s dollars.

The company plans further exploration on three of its eight uranium properties. Upon announcing that the National Instrument 43-101 confirmed the company's uranium resources in Sweden, the same announcement confirmed the magnitude of the exploration target on its largest property, Tasjo. According to the company's website, "83 drill holes have been drilled... over an area of approximately 10 kilometres by 20 kilometres." It's a vast target, between seven and ten kilometers, to explore. Hudson said, "We're going to put a few thousand meters into that in September or October." The company plans to spend about $2 million of its $9 million further exploring its properties over the next 12 to 18 months.

Previous government exploration at Tasjo wasn't as structured as many of today's mining companies would like. "A lot of it (the tonnage) hasn't been counted," Hudson told us. "We went through the data in cardboard boxes. The data hadn't been out of the boxes since the mid 1970s, and the last drilling was done in the 1980s." Hudson said his team plans to set up a grid and methodically drill it out, as opposed to how it was drilled before. The prize could be enormous as some historical estimates ran as high as 116 million pounds of U3O8 at Tasjo. But, those figures require modern exploration for regulatory compliant verification. Hudson emphasized, "Because of how the work was done, we're not happy to quote those resources."

While the drilling may have been less methodical, Hudson praises the Swedes for their storage capabilities, "The Swedes claim they've got the largest core yard in the world." For the past seven years, Hudson rented a house in Sweden in the same town where the core shack is located. "This is all professionally stored in huge warehouses, all recorded and registered," he explained. "At your request, they will pull out the core with forklifts." According to Hudson, the data is all there, about 98 percent (or more) of the drill databases, including the assays and surveys. "We've got the data, and our people are scanning and inputting the data," he added.
We talked about the other uranium properties, some of the better of which could have as much as 30 million pounds of uranium oxide. "The better project, from a short-term perspective is Klappibacken," Hudson noted. Historical estimated were compiled by the Swedish Geological Survey (SGU) in 1984, when the property was last explored. Thirty-two drill holes were completed in an area about the size of a football field. The recent Canadian regulatory approved report showed an indicated resource of about two million pounds. This was considered to be a minimum because uranium mineralization was still open laterally and at depth. Hudson was excited about the Klappibacken property, "It's over $100 per ton in uranium value. It's wide and thick from surface. We're trying to get something up to prefeasibility."

The Duobblon property confirmed previous SGU drilling of fifty-five holes, which was done between 1976 and 1979. The most promising of that drilling may be the central zone, where thirty-five holes were drilled over a strike length of one kilometer. Another four kilometers, of what Mawson believes may be the host resource, remains undrilled. This may be a near-surface opportunity, possibly for open pit mining. Uranium mineralization extends from three meters below the surface to at least 300 meters of vertical depth.

Mawson expects an Athabasca-style deposit, based upon how the company interprets the vein and unconformity-related mineralization hosted by a block of Paleozoic sediments thrust over Precambrian volcanoes. First explored by the SGU in 1977 as a way to determine if Sweden could be uranium-independent, it was financed by the Swedish Nuclear Fuel Supply Company, SKBF. Mawson released results of grab and channel samples in May 2006.

According to Hudson, some of the samples have run up to 20 percent uranium. "Getting these shipped out of Sweden is a challenge, especially with the high grade ones," he told us. "We have to wrap them in lots of lead, so a few kilos of rock become 40 kilos of lead-covered boxes." Nothing has been released on Flistjarn since the values were announced, and the property was not mentioned in the recent NI 43-101 announcement.

Conclusion

Sweden's coming election could officially set back the worldwide anti-nuclear movement and further change attitudes in the European Union.

The last G8 Summit in St. Petersburg has already spurred emotions for a more favorable climate toward nuclear energy.

Uranium mining, the front end of the nuclear cycle, is sometimes ignored in the greater scheme of the nuclear renaissance. Yet, if a country hopes to become energy independent, it must cultivate its domestic resources. Sweden, again, is a test case on this point as well.

Unlike many other companies we've reviewed, Mawson assembled a proven mining team. At the top is Andrew Browne, who was the Competent Person to sign off on Australia's Jabiluka uranium project, as well as the team leader for the discovery of the Ranger 68 uranium deposit in Australia's Northern Territory. He's not alone on this team who has been credited with an exploration discovery. CEO Michael Hudson discovered the Portia copper-gold project, also having delineated and developed other minerals projects in Australia. Mark Saxon, who will oversee Mawson's exploration in Sweden, discovered the Browns Tunnel zinc-lead project in Tasmania. David Henstridge, a company director, discovered the Bigrlyi uranium project in Australia's Northern Territory.
Another feather in the Mawson hat is their financing. The world's richest man has invested in this Vancouver-based uranium company. No, not Bill Gates. According to a June 30th Reuters news service report, the world's richest man is now Ingvar Kamprad. Reportedly, Mr. Kamprad is now allegedly worth about $6 billion more than Mr. Gates. Haven't heard the name before? Kamprad founded the furniture chain Ikea, which has more than 830 stores in 64 countries. According to Hudson, Kamprad almost completely financed the Mawson IPO.

Mawson has been looking eastward at Finland, a country which soon plans to bring online the EU's first new nuclear reactor. And there is another European country with an advanced uranium project, with which Hudson is currently undergoing negotiations. By the way, having started as a gold exploration company, Mawson also has a few gold properties, eight of which have been farmed out to another junior exploration company.

Once the uranium is mined, it is not expected to be stored, or wasted. This means the world's richest, and most business-savvy man is sure that enough nuclear power plants will be started up, to absorb his newly mined uranium supply, and bring the world fully into a nuclear rennaissance, one not at all dependent on the United States' failing Bush presidency.

ren

And... the miniscule amount of uranium required by a working reactor is many, many times less than the amount of coal or oil required to replace it, making uranium price shifts not pertinent.

It's so small, it's free.

(or almost)

ren

Found some archival stuff on Low Head Hydro, including a gorgeous new Kaplan turbine that is intentionally fish-comfy. (links at end of post)

ORNL warns us that overuse of small hydro can become an eco-disaster all in itself.

Read:

Disadvantages to Low Head Hydro Aside from the high capital costs up front of building a hydroelectric facility, the primary disadvantage of hydroelectric is its adverse environmental effect.

The basic problem with is that when the hydrology of a river is changed through a hydroelectric project, major habitat changes can occur. No matter how many studies one does, there is no accurate way to determine all of the repercussions a hydroelectric plant will have on nature. Moreover aspects of environmental degradation resulting from normal maintenance, security, and inspection regimes can, when implemented on a long term recurrent basis, fatally alter the surrounding environment. In construction, the usual method of installing a dam is a cut and fill technique, utilizing heavy diesel equipment, bulldozers, backloaders and large trucks. Isolation of sloped terrain from track vehicle destruction and large wheeled vehicle churning is not considered feasible. By the time a new small dam has been installed, its surrounding area has already been significantly damaged.The installation of access trails, usually gravel roads, presents major runoff detriments, and their continual use presents petrochemical buildups from tires, engines, and the storage of maintenance supplies, some extemely toxic. On the earthen side, small mammalian habitats are destroyed, and prevented from re-establishment by recurring visits from site personnel. Wireways, distribution towers, and electromagnetic fields injected unnaturally into hundreds or even thousands of previously pristine micro habitats skew the flora and fauna to a new non-native variety, smaller in size, more opportunistic in habit, and rodent populations with concomitant small predator cohorts (coyotes) can quickly arise, and dominate. The installation of more than a few low-head hydro installations in a region can bring that region permanently to scrub land, where it previously had been major growth forest. These effects are generally not anticipated in any single installation. They arise from many installations altering the basic interactional chain in an entire region, collectively. Electrical generation that had been previously isolated at major installations, under viable regulatory inspection regimes, is thus broken out of its quarantine, and injected wholesale into the countryside at large, uninspectable, uncontained, and largely irremediable. To build a low head hydropower setup for a single home can be an environmental plus. To build hundreds of such installations blanketing an area is an environmental disaster.
Hydroelectric sites create several problems for fish, anadromous varieties in particular: Dams present a migratory barrier.
Fish can be killed in the turbines (especially young ones swimming downstream).
Spilling of water over spillways can result in supersaturation of the water with gases from
the air. The gas bubbles, which are absorbed into fish tissue, may cause damage and
ultimately kill the fish.Reservoirs have limited natural flow in the summer. Water becomes stratified, with warmer water collecting at the surface and cooler water lying at the bottom. Because the bottom water is isolated from aeration, it loses its oxygen. Many species of fish cannot live in this environment due to the temperature and low oxygen content.Also, silt which would have naturally traveled to the mouth of the river and out to sea, builds up steadily at the wall of the dam. In addition, tree clearing from the development of hydroelectric dams can result in soil erosion and landslides, also causing a buildup of sediments that clog up streams. For more information on the environmental effects of hydroelectric power and what can be done to reduce those effects, check out Hydro power: Licensed to Protect the Environment sponsored by ORNL.
http://hydropower.inel.gov/turbines/pdfs/doeid-13741.pdf
http://www.pnl.gov/main/publications/external/technical_reports/PNNL-13470-A.pdf

b tween

Your concern for fish is touching, but energy is a crisis and no method of electrical generation is perfect. At least this is sustainable as a renewable source and the waste it produces is negligible.

Do you mean to imply that a new "clean" coal plant would be better. Would you raise your kids 3 miles downwind of one?

Take your time.
Answer honestly.

Or would you prefer we build natural gas or oil burning plants?
We still have no clue what to do with nuclear waste - and talk about killing river fish!

Have you read about the issues Scandinavia has with cooling in their nuke plants? Climate change has raised the temps of the rivers they use to cool their reactors, so they've had to scale back production of electricity. Building more CO2 spewers is not a solution.
Low head hydro still sounds like the move to me.

bsl

The assertation that a 7x increase in the price of uranium results in a 7x increase in the price of nuclear energy is absurd.

Unlike other power sources, fuel cost is a tiny percentage of nuclear power operating cost. The vast majority of cost is in the initial building of the plant. Disposal of waste also costs considerably more than the incoming fuel. So even a huge increase in the price of uranium won't make a big difference, overall, in the price of nuclear power.

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The name dollar is historically related to the bohemian tolar (16th century) and also the later slovenian tolar (1991), daalder in the Netherlands, Reichsthaler in Germany, and daler in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Guldiner can be traced to 1486 when Archduke Sigismund of Tyrol, a small state north of Venice, issued a dollar-sized coin which was referred to as a "Guldiner." Silver supplies were small which limited coinage.The German silver Thaler coins that were first minted in 1520 from silver taken from a mine at Joachimsthal, Bohemia, in the Holy Roman Empire. Not long after issuance, these coins gained the name Joachimsthalers. Subsequently, coins of similar size and weight were called Thaler, or dollar regardless of the issuing authority

, and continued to be minted until 1872.

The Dutch lion dollar circulated throughout the Middle East and was imitated in several German and Italian cities. It was also popular in the Dutch East Indies as well as in the Dutch New Netherland Colony (New York). The lion dollar also has circulated throughout the English colonies during the 17th and early 18th centuries . Examples circulating in the colonies were usually fairly well worn so that the design was not fully distinguishable, thus they were sometimes referred to as "dog dollars."
This Dutch currency made its way to the east coast due to the increased trading by colonial ships with other nations. By the mid-1700s, it was replaced by the Spanish 8 reales.

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What was never publicized was that a clear majority of the Swedish voters believed the existing reactors should continue running until new energy sources replaced nuclear.

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You do know how to manage the whole staff. Everything seems to be organized.

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