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Topic: Mining Stocks

Uranium junior presses ahead with new mines

Mining Stocks

Pat McKeough responds to many requests from members of his Inner Circle for specific stock advice as well as questions on investment strategy and the economy. Every week, his comments and recommendations on the most intriguing questions of the past week go out to all Inner Circle members. And each week, we offer you one of the highlights from these Q&A sessions. While we reserve our buy-hold-sell advice for Inner Circle members, these excerpts provide a great deal of information and analysis on stocks we’ve covered for members of Pat’s Inner Circle.

Recently an Inner Circle member asked us about a uranium mining and exploration stock. Uranium Energy Corp. has one producing mine and several development-stage projects in Texas as well as exploration projects elsewhere. Pat examines the prospects for this junior in light of the growing demand from nations that still have millions living without electricity. He balances that against the competitive and regulatory issues that nuclear power faces in the U.S. and Canada as it competes with liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a fuel source.

Q: Hi, Pat: I would like your opinion on Uranium Energy Corp. Thank you.

A: Uranium Energy Corp. (symbol UEC on New York; www.uraniumenergy.com) is a U.S.-based uranium mining and exploration company.

UEC owns the Palangana mine, the Goliad project (for which it holds the necessary permits to build a mine) and the development-stage Burke Hollow project, all in Texas. It also owns the Hobson processing facility—also in Texas—and exploration projects in Arizona, Colorado and Paraguay.

Over the longer term, uranium companies like UEC will benefit from rising demand in China and India, where about 650 million people live without electricity. There are now 72 nuclear reactors under construction globally, mostly in those two countries.

However, UEC’s near-term prospects are mixed, mainly because of the prospect of rising liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to countries like Japan, China and South Korea, where gas sells at a big premium to North American prices.

Mining stocks: Nuclear plant construction stalled by rise of LNG exports

In North America, LNG has long been viewed as risky from an environmental and safety perspective, but the facts don’t bear out those concerns. That’s why approvals for LNG export facilities are now forthcoming in the U.S. and Canada.

Meanwhile, advances in uranium mining and reactor construction have improved nuclear power’s safety record, reduced environmental concerns and boosted efficiency.

If nuclear offered clear cost advantages over oil, coal and natural gas as a fuel source it would go a long way toward giving governments the political will to build more nuclear plants.

However, the rise of LNG exports, fuelled by abundant supplies of low-cost gas from shale discoveries, will keep stalling nuclear plant construction, especially in developed countries. That will hurt uranium producers’ shares, at least in the short term.

Still, UEC’s potential to develop new mines gives it some speculative appeal. So we view the stock as a hold, but for highly aggressive investors only.

Coming up Next

Monday we look at an alternative energy stock that is trying to make up lost ground.

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