Over the past year, along with platinum miners and oil producers, listed uranium entities of all kinds – explorers, developers and miners – have delivered up among the most miserable of global resources stock price returns. This is relative, of course; returns are now positive for all mining and resources subsectors, but the range between top and bottom dogs is noticeable.

In the uranium space, there has been some excitement over certain stocks, not least Australia-listed Extract Resources, with its Rössing South discovery in Namibia, and, this week, the announced move of Ian Stalker from London-listed Niger Uranium to bourse companion Berkeley Resources. The two stories are linked in some ways, as will become apparent in due course.

Among miners, it’s only Canada’s Cameco, the world’s biggest uranium producer, that has really been able to sustain any kind of convincing stock price return. But good performances are also notable from Summit Resources (uranium, vanadium, iron ore and phosphate resources in Australia), Impact Minerals, with tenement holdings in Australia and Africa, a portfolio of six projects with the potential for economic deposits of nickel and significant deposits of gold and uranium.

And there are also Canada’s Fronteer (various interests include 100% of Aurora Energy), and Mindax, with a portfolio of iron, uranium, gold and copper projects in Western Australia’s Yilgarn Craton.

Much of the irritation for investors in uranium stocks can be traced to the performance of the uranium oxide price, which has dynamics quite different to any other commodity. The price peaked at close to USD 140/lb in mid-2007 on the prongs of a three-headed mania: the end of Russian dumping, roaring apparent increases in demand from an energy-hungry world, and lots of liquidity via hedge funds and participation certificates, plus, factor four, the difficulty of valuing uranium stocks.

Over the past 12 months, the price has traded briefly above USD 50/lb, and as low as USD 40/lb; current prices are around USD 45/lb, according to UX Consulting. The vast majority of other commodity prices have been on the upward move since late 2008, after the collapse that set in during mid-2008, a year after uranium prices headed south.

With prices providing little comfort or energy, uranium watchers have this year been more focused on ripsnorter finds, taking the story back to Extract Resources. According to the company’s own advertisements, this is all about one mother of a discovery. In disclosures to the world, Extract Resources chairman, Steve Galloway, puts it this way: “Exceptional chemical assay results reinforce the view that Rössing South is one of the most significant uranium discoveries ever made”. The market value of Extract Resources has been as high as USD 2.6bn, but the stock price has recently shed more than a quarter of its value.

Uranium is a big story in Namibia. Major miner Rio Tinto, which has long operated the original Rössing mine, has taken a stake in Extract, and also Kalahari Minerals, which holds 38.85% of Extract. Good stock price gains have also come from NWT Uranium, which holds 34.06% of Niger Uranium, which in turn owns 15.06% of Kalahari Minerals. Polo Resources has also taken a stake in Extract.

Namibia is mining friendly. Paladin commissioned Langer Heinrich in 2007 on time and on budget, and continues with the process of ramping production to what could amount to 6m pounds of uranium a year, at a cash cost of USD 25/lb, by the second half of 2010.

Further names active in Namibia include Australia- and Namibia-listed Deep Yellow, which has delivered one set of solid drilling results after another; Forsys, proceeding to the mining stage at Valencia; Bannerman, with Etango, Xemplar, West Australian Metals, Pitchstone Exploration, and Toro Energy.

Paladin owns 20% of Deep Yellow and 20% of NGM Resources, which holds agreements covering uranium exploration projects in Niger, and metal exploration projects in Madagascar. Mantra Resources holds a uranium resource in southern Tanzania, across the border from recently opened Kayelekera mine in Malawi, owned and operated by Paladin.

Extract has lost a quarter of its value in the past two months, as “ripsnorter” investors have quit the party. Uranium specialists recall how it was that back in December 2007, Xemplar was the talk of the town, with a lofty CAD 700m market value, compared to Extract’s AUD 200m, at the time. With a little help from “Mr. Uranium” – Steve Dattels – who effectively took control of Extract and Kalahari, Extract is now valued at USD 1.9bn and Xemplar at little more than USD 20m.

Namibia’s more recent potential was startlingly highlighted by the August 2007 purchase by French transnational Areva for USD 2.5bn of Uramin. Trekkopje will be a big mine. Which all takes the story around to Ian Stalker. He worked in senior executive roles at ZCCM, Ashanti Goldmines, Caledonia Mining, Gold Fields, and was CEO of Uramin from late 2005 until it was acquired by Areva. Stalker turned skill and luck to account when he cashed out of Uramin and will no doubt be regarding Berkeley as an opportunity to build a serious uranium company.

Berkeley has 26m pounds of 450 parts per million uranium oxide at its Spanish projects; analysts familiar with the company reckon this resource will potentially triple in 2010 as Berkeley moves onto the Toronto Stock Exchange, and into production at around 2m pounds a year by 2012.

Berkeley’s Salamanca project would be the restart of an old mine, one shut down in 2000 by Spanish state company ENUSA following sustained low uranium prices. Relative to other projects with a similar deposit base, Salamanca rates as very low cost on capital expenditure, with operating expenditure likely to be around USD 30/lb. Dattels is a shareholder in Berkeley.

Selected uranium stocks

Producers

Stock

From

From

Value

price

high*

low*

USD bn

Cameco

CAD 31.65

-5.3%

108.9%

11.628

ERA

AUD 24.19

-14.5%

66.7%

4.221

Paladin

AUD 4.23

-23.4%

151.8%

2.775

Uranium One

CAD 3.27

-19.7%

336.0%

1.438

Denison

CAD 1.50

-48.3%

117.4%

0.477

Producer averages/total

-22.2%

156.2%

20.538

Weighted averages

-12.8%

110.7%

Developers & other

First Uranium

CAD 2.04

-74.5%

59.4%

0.318

UEX

CAD 0.98

-45.6%

117.8%

0.177

Uranium Part.

CAD 6.94

-18.2%

30.2%

0.556

Summit Resources

AUD 2.13

-2.7%

60.2%

0.633

Mega Uranium

CAD 0.70

-69.3%

79.5%

0.161

Alliance Resources

AUD 0.62

-37.2%

84.7%

0.192

Bannerman

AUD 1.19

-19.9%

190.2%

0.220

Forsys

CAD 4.01

-47.5%

45.3%

0.296

Greenland Minerals

AUD 0.45

-32.3%

200.0%

0.093

Laramide

CAD 1.34

-47.2%

135.1%

0.085

Mantra Resources

AUD 4.32

-16.8%

671.4%

0.432

Energy Metals

AUD 0.92

-21.8%

195.2%

0.099

Deep Yellow

AUD 0.36

-24.5%

262.2%

0.365

Extract Resources

AUD 8.10

-29.3%

931.8%

1.797

Strateco Resources

CAD 0.85

-37.0%

93.2%

0.095

Strathmore Minerals

CAD 0.62

-24.4%

275.8%

0.042

UR-Energy

CAD 0.80

-42.4%

86.0%

0.070

Thor Mining

AUD 0.03

-55.2%

130.8%

0.006

Uranium Resources

USD 1.02

-46.0%

183.3%

0.058

Uranerz

CAD 1.81

-32.5%

254.9%

0.109

Hathor Exploration

CAD 1.82

-50.3%

40.0%

0.147

West Australian Metals

AUD 0.14

-51.8%

132.8%

0.056

Marathon Resources

AUD 0.52

-51.9%

108.0%

0.037

Impact Minerals

AUD 1.51

-8.2%

694.7%

1.487

Kalahari Minerals

GBP 1.81

-16.5%

457.7%

0.630

Arafura Resources

AUD 0.82

-36.6%

232.7%

0.193

Uranium Energy

USD 3.21

-22.9%

1899.1%

0.180

Polo Resources

GBP 0.04

-20.8%

182.3%

0.171

Tournigan

CAD 0.21

-58.8%

55.6%

0.024

NGM Resources

AUD 0.15

-46.3%

1712.5%

0.028

White Canyon

AUD 0.24

-47.2%

291.7%

0.040

Southern Uranium

AUD 0.08

-54.3%

116.2%

0.008

Uranium Equities

AUD 0.18

-37.5%

250.0%

0.034

Obtala

GBP 0.18

-39.0%

63.6%

0.058

Berkeley Resources

GBP 0.64

-18.5%

591.8%

0.110

Xemplar Energy

CAD 0.20

-74.0%

37.9%

0.022

JNR Resources

CAD 0.22

-57.0%

34.4%

0.018

Crosshair Exploration

CAD 0.22

-38.9%

158.8%

0.023

A-CAP Resources

AUD 0.40

-34.2%

393.8%

0.058

Fission Energy

CAD 0.18

-70.0%

63.6%

0.007

Curnamona Energy

AUD 0.45

-25.0%

233.3%

0.027

Thundelarra

AUD 0.55

-30.1%

856.1%

0.073

Khan Resources

CAD 0.31

-50.8%

110.3%

0.015

Bayswater Uranium

CAD 0.11

-54.2%

120.0%

0.016

Energy Fuels

CAD 0.27

-58.5%

145.5%

0.021

Azimut Exploration

CAD 0.53

-33.8%

178.9%

0.010

Desert Energy

AUD 0.11

-31.3%

161.9%

0.009

Pancontinental Uranium

CAD 0.15

-41.2%

233.3%

0.007

Pepinnini Minerals

AUD 0.34

-37.6%

151.9%

0.024

Nuinsco Resources

CAD 0.06

-42.1%

266.7%

0.011

ATOM ENERGY LTD

AUD 0.11

-12.0%

547.1%

0.018

Pitchstone Exploration

CAD 0.39

-25.0%

188.9%

0.013

Canalaska Uranium

CAD 0.19

-21.3%

311.1%

0.024

UraniumSA

AUD 0.23

-22.0%

1110.5%

0.020

Bitterroot Resources

CAD 0.12

-52.1%

53.3%

0.007

Encounter Resources

AUD 0.34

-29.2%

580.0%

0.025

Calypso Uranium

CAD 0.17

-15.4%

371.4%

0.008

Energy & Minerals Australia

AUD 0.24

-41.5%

41.2%

0.085

Atomic Resources

AUD 0.11

-38.2%

59.1%

0.010

Titan Uranium

CAD 0.29

-55.5%

159.1%

0.028

Uranex

AUD 0.30

-48.3%

172.7%

0.026

Red Hill Energy

CAD 0.34

-48.5%

41.7%

0.015

Pele Mountain

CAD 0.17

-45.0%

120.0%

0.014

Crossland Uranium

AUD 0.22

-6.4%

450.0%

0.023

Monaro Mining

AUD 0.10

-38.7%

46.2%

0.010

Epsilon Energy

AUD 0.07

-35.0%

75.7%

0.003

Eromanga Uranium

AUD 0.06

-52.0%

140.0%

0.009

African Energy

AUD 0.18

-25.0%

1700.0%

0.042

Toro Energy

AUD 0.16

-43.9%

77.8%

0.132

NWT Uranium

CAD 0.15

-31.8%

400.0%

0.018

Cash Minerals

CAD 0.03

-75.0%

50.0%

0.004

Apollo Minerals

AUD 0.24

-40.0%

92.0%

0.024

Forum Uranium

CAD 0.11

-25.0%

320.0%

0.009

Wealth Minerals

CAD 0.50

-23.1%

400.0%

0.014

ALARA RESOURCES

AUD 0.22

-10.2%

746.2%

0.016

Uracan Resources

CAD 0.39

-19.6%

225.0%

0.033

Niger Uranium

GBP 0.40

-1.2%

960.0%

0.043

Unor

CAD 0.05

-37.5%

150.0%

0.007

Purepoint Uranium

CAD 0.17

-38.9%

371.4%

0.011

Nortec Ventures

CAD 0.11

-50.0%

57.1%

0.009

Int’l Enexco

CAD 0.40

-42.9%

100.0%

0.008

U3O8 Corp.

CAD 0.41

-46.8%

115.8%

0.009

Silver Spruce

CAD 0.06

-81.3%

33.3%

0.003

Triex Minerals

CAD 0.25

-42.5%

66.7%

0.005

Rum Jungle Uranium

AUD 0.11

-27.6%

191.7%

0.012

Solex Resources

CAD 0.08

-70.4%

220.0%

0.005

Uravan Minerals

CAD 0.17

-32.0%

54.5%

0.004

Universal Uranium

CAD 0.05

-52.4%

150.0%

0.002

Oklo Uranium

AUD 0.07

-50.0%

160.0%

0.006

Hawk Uranium

CAD 0.06

-40.0%

200.0%

0.003

Macusani Yellowcake

CAD 0.25

-44.4%

72.4%

0.010

Nimrodel

AUD 0.09

-31.3%

143.2%

0.012

Contl. Precious Minerals

CAD 0.69

-25.8%

187.5%

0.033

Blue Sky Uranium

CAD 0.63

-20.3%

2000.0%

0.026

Aura Energy

AUD 0.17

-34.6%

112.5%

0.020

Empire Resources

AUD 0.10

-28.9%

380.0%

0.007

Northern Continental

CAD 0.25

-21.0%

308.3%

0.014

Int’l Montoro

CAD 0.04

-27.3%

60.0%

0.001

North Atlantic Resources

CAD 0.06

-65.6%

175.0%

0.002

Uran

AUD 0.06

-31.9%

342.9%

0.007

Alberta Star

CAD 0.18

-36.8%

100.0%

0.018

East Asia Minerals

CAD 1.95

-37.1%

1400.0%

0.119

Black Range Minerals

AUD 0.05

-52.4%

354.5%

0.029

Fronteer

CAD 4.50

-12.8%

190.3%

0.500

Portal Resources

CAD 0.05

-58.3%

66.7%

0.001

Eso Uranium

CAD 0.05

-52.6%

125.0%

0.002

Bearclaw Capital

CAD 0.07

-22.2%

180.0%

0.002

Forte Energy

AUD 0.17

-25.0%

292.9%

0.086

Mineral Commodities

AUD 0.04

-76.7%

75.0%

0.005

Mindax

AUD 0.53

-3.6%

171.8%

0.063

North American Gem

CAD 0.14

-30.8%

170.0%

0.014

Developer averages/total

-37.8%

290.8%

11.075

Weighted averages

-32.4%

213.6%

Overall averages/total

-36.8%

282.6%

31.613

Overall weighted averages

-20.8%

138.1%

Diversifieds with uranium

Areva

EUR 360.10

-24.2%

18.6%

18.978

Rio Tinto

GBP 31.79

-4.7%

286.7%

124.568

BHP Billiton

GBP 18.31

-3.5%

150.2%

192.654

AngloGold Ashanti

USD 43.08

-8.2%

222.2%

15.598

Equinox

CAD 3.88

-8.1%

304.2%

2.558

* 12-month

Source: market data; table compiled by Barry Sergeant