TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Govind Friedland, the son of mining promoter Robert Friedland, has been hard at work behind the scenes developing a uranium project in Niger through his company GoviEx Uranium.
In November, Friedland junior said the company had started preparing a prospectus, implying a listing was on the cards for GoviEx.
Given that Canada’s Cameco and TSX-listed junior Semafo are significant minority shareholders, there is reason to believe that GoviEx would look to listing in Toronto. And with the uranium spot price having soared over the past year to breach the $70/lb level, a flotation may happen soon.
Cameco, one of the world’s biggest producers of the nuclear fuel, bought into GoviEx in 2008, picking up an initial 11% stake, with the option to ultimately increase its holding to 48% in 2012.
That was six months after Semafo, which has gold operations in Niger, struck a deal to combine its uranium assets in the West African country with GoviEx, for a 12% holding in the merged entity.
Another noticeable name at GoviEx is Sam Jonah, former AngloGold Ashanti president, who quit as chairperson of the uranium junior in November for “personal reasons”, but remained what GoviEx called a substantial minority shareholder in the company.
The firm last month announced Jean Lamarre would take over the role of chairperson. Lamarre is also executive chairperson of Semafo.
If GoviEx were to list in Toronto, Cameco may look at increasing its ownership to control the company.
CEO Jerry Grandey last year told Mining Weekly Online his company was keen on sourcing uranium from Africa – where it currently has no producing mines, but noted that any acquisition would have to fit into Cameco’s value equation.
Another company that will be watching GoviEx’s progress closely is Areva, which owns uranium mines in close proximity to where the junior hopes to build its Madaouela project.
The French nuclear company has said its nearby Imouraren deposit is the biggest known uranium deposit in Africa, and the world's second largest, after Australia's Olympic Dam.
Last year, SRK Consulting completed a preliminary economic assessment on the GoviEx project, indicating production of 2,7-million pounds yearly, at an estimated capital cost of $218-million.
GoviEx aims to more than double the indicated and inferred resources at Madaouela, from nearly 70-million pounds as at one year ago.
Announcing the SRK reports results, Friedland said interim engineering and metallurgical studies would lead into a pre-feasibility study, targeted for 2011, which would be followed by the start of project development.
In October 2010, Casey Research named Friedland as one of the ten “most promising names of this new generation”.
Friedland did not respond to requests from Mining Weekly Online for comment.