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Uranium Prices Swing Through September; SD Regulators Keep Azarga/Powertech Water Permit on Hold

Climate change-driven projections of increased investment in nuclear power and heavy investment from the new Canadian Sprott Physical Uranium Trust pushed uranium prices up in September. Element #92 peaked at $50 per pound mid-month, well above the recent several-month average around $30/pound but still well below the pre-Fukushima spikes of $77 in 2011 and $137 in 2007. SPUT cooled its jets on September 24, and uranium prices have been sliding since, failing to reach the $60/pound level that some experts say is necessary to support increased uranium extraction. Yesterday brought an ugly correction back to $19/pound.

Stock in Canadian uranium company Azarga/Powertech has surged and slid right along with its target mineral, rising from long-term doldrums in the 30-cent range (and that’s Canadian pennies) to 78 cents mid-September, then dropping back to 58 cents today. Our Canadian raiders remain committed to squirting for uranium in the southern Black Hills, but the South Dakota Water Management Board Wednesday declined Powertech’s request that the state restart the company’s water permitting process. Our water regulators say Powertech needs to wait until it has all the green lights it needs from the federal government:

Board members said they don’t want to waste more time and money since Powertech is still seeking some federal permits while others are tied up in the courts.

“I just don’t think it’s appropriate for the State of South Dakota and this board to spend millions of dollars once again on an issue and then have the rug pulled out from under our feet after we’ve made a decision,” said board member Rodney Freeman.

The board already paused its consideration of the DeweyBurdock Project back in 2013 at the request of Powertech, just a year after the company began the permitting process. Powertech has been pursuing federal permits and licenses since then [Arielle Zionts, “Board Rejects Attempt to Restart Uranium-Mine Permitting,” SDPB Radio, 2021.10.06].

If Azarga/Powertech is paying attention, they’ll see a quick way to get around this delay. They just need to hire Kassidy Noem Peters. Send Kassidy to advocate for Powertech’s water permit at the next Water Management Board hearing, get the board to delay her request, and Powertech can count on Kassidy to complain to her mom, Governor Kristi Noem, and count on mom to summon Rodney Freeman and the rest of the board to the Second Floor for a stern straightening out in front of Kassidy by the Governor, her chief of staff, her lawyer, her DANR Secretary, the DANR lawyer….


  1. Donald Pay 2021-10-08

    The cost rise was mainly manufactured. Over the last several years, some companies have shut down high cost uranium mines in an effort to boost bottom lines and uranium prices. Kazakhstan, a big producer, restricted uranium production, as did some Canadian mines. Then there is the effort to hype nuclear power as “green energy.” That has a spill over into uranium. Then there was the socialist intervention by the Trump administration to buy US uranium and stash it off the market. Then there is the uranium trust in Canada doing the same thing. Then there is the hype about bitcoin being used to buy physical uranium. A lot of social media hype and manipulation of the spot market is driving the price higher. It was all fabricated. The big boys have ways to hedge against the recent plunge. They make money when it goes up and when it goes down, Small investors take in up the rectum.

    My advise is stay away from uranium, whether it is physical or stocks or whatnot. It’s always been a con game.

  2. Donald Pay 2021-10-08

    My thought on the Water Management Board is that it is just being wise. Rodney Freeman has been there forever, and has seen all the mistakes made through the years. Rushing something this big and dangerous is not the way to go.

    Powertech has hyped this mine for almost as long as I’ve been out of South Dakota. A top-tier miner would have had a five year slog to get a permit. They would have done things right, rather than shorted their studies so badly they had to go back and re-do them. They can whine all they want about delays. They caused most of them. Remember, this entire plan to circumvent South Dakota regulation was Powertech’s wet dream.

    Azarga has sold out to another company, called emCore. When the merger was announced, both stocks fell. That gives you some indication of what investors think of Azarga.

  3. larry kurtz 2021-10-08

    Powertech’s parent, Azarga Uranium is expected to be bought out next month by enCore Energy, a Canadian firm with headquarters in Texas. It has uranium claims or operations in Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and South Dakota.

    Recall that Heather Wilson, formerly the president of the South Dakota School of Mines, secretary in Donald Trump’s Department of the Air Force and now president of the University of Texas El Paso, a Rapid City firm specializing in toxic waste had been floating the idea of a deep borehole where radioactive materials could be dumped. Wilson is a Republican former US Representative from New Mexico’s 1st US congressional district, Air Force officer and lobbyist linked to double dealing at laboratories with ties to the military/industrial complex.

  4. ArloBlundt 2021-10-08

    Well././UIranium mining in western Fall River and milling in Edgemont has always been a mess and leaves ugly scars and mill waste piles that require expensive clean up.It has always been a marginal proposition and one we can do without.

  5. larry kurtz 2021-10-08

    Mr. Pay, do you remember Robert Mines? Is South Dakota Assistant Attorney General Ann Mines Bailey who wrote in opposition to giving the miner more water his daughter?

  6. Mark Anderson 2021-10-08

    At least the Canadians pronounce you- ray -knee -um the same as Americans. What’s with Al-you-min-eum, never understood that one. Al- loom -e -numb is the American way.

  7. Bonnie B Fairbank 2021-10-08

    Gather ’round, children, and I’ll tell you a tale of a non-regulatory, totally beneficient Bureau in the Department of the Interior that was abolished in 1996. The Research branch of the US Bureau of Mines developed safety equipment to keep above and below ground miners safer, and the Information and Analysis branch actively sampled land the US Gummint ALREADY OWNED for strategic and critical minerals.
    This was during the Clinton administration and Al Gore was “reinventing the government” and Babbitt was gutting the DOI and mining was considered worse than porking your daughter, sister, and mother.
    My drafting board was less than forty feet away from a geologist’s field locker that had samples of pitchblende he’d collected in Utah, and the safety officer’s geiger counter SCREAMED when scanned.
    Of course, this has nothing to do with mining boondoggles in South Dakota. Kinda like oil shale North Dakota.

  8. Sion G. Hanson 2021-10-08

    CAH, you are a good reporter.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-10-08

    Donald: enCore? Good grief! Third company name since the project was announced! They keep screwing up my blog tags. Now I’m going to have to headline every post “EnCore/Azarga/PowerTech….”

  10. Donald Pay 2021-10-08

    Mr. Kurtz, Yes, I knew Bob Mines, but not well. I talked with when I saw him at various meetings or hearings. He sent our organization a check now and then. My friend Jay Davis worked in his law office for a short time. Interesting guy, but a very disorganized attorney, who was eventually disbarred. He bought some land in the Black Hills Army Depot, and ran cattle there. There was a bit of a disagreement about cattle crossing fences, a bull being castrated, etc., if I remember correctly. I think it ended up in court. I don’t think that’s his daughter with the AG’s office.

  11. ArloBlundt 2021-10-09

    Bonnie…your story is quite salient to the present discussion of continued mining and milling of uranium ore in Fall River county. Mining laws are still a “wild west” proposition in this country and 70 years of on again-off again uranium mining and milling has left radioactive waste scattered around throughout the area. As a profitable mining prospect the area is marginal at best and should be dedicated to other uses.

  12. Bonnie B Fairbank 2021-10-09

    Thank you, ArloBlundt. I can merely write about my experiences, but they are true observations based upon my job at that time. I don’t know why any company/conglomerate/entity would dick around in Fall River County in pursuit of uranium when there are far richer fields elsewhere. Bribery, corruption, nepotism, good ol’ boys network? I’m too simple to understand it.

  13. Lilias Jarding 2021-10-13

    Gees, don’t give Powertech any ideas. And it wouldn’t be a new idea for them anyway. When they first came to SD, they hired the Governor’s (Rounds’) sister and her husband to do their PR work.

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