Why Is Eric Sprott A Uranium Bull?
Eric Sprott may be Canada's answer to Warren Buffet. He's got the Midas Touch and currently manages more than $3 billion. We talked to Eric Sprott about uranium and why he is bullish on nuclear energy. Interviewer: Uranium had been inching higher from 2001 until a year ago. Since then, it has soared up the price chart. What is a realistic price for uranium and how high can you envision it reaching? Eric Sprott: There is obviously a shortage between current mine production and current uranium consumption.
In order to correct that imbalance, it would have to be economic to open up new deposits. I’m not suggesting that it (uranium) has to go to $100 to become economic. I don’t think that’s true. Probably at $50, it becomes very economic. The reality is that we’ve been so slow in getting started that I think the whole nuclear industry will ultimately prove to be the key energy source of the future.
With demand today at 170 million (pounds), who knows? It might be 300 million pounds in twenty years. The argument in the article we wrote is that based on the previous peaks, prices if you put a normal inflation rate on it, it would equate to something like $100. So, it’s not that far fetched that we might get there. Interviewer: If it takes four or five years, or up to a decade, to get a nuclear reactor going, why are the Chinese building so many so quickly? Eric Sprott: Because they’ve been doing it right. One of the nice things about a centrally organized government is they deal with big issues. Obviously, China has a big issue in energy. If you were sitting over there, you would realize, ‘My god, we’re starting to import two million barrels of oil. We used to export coal and now we don’t export coal. What are we going to do if our growth rate continues to grow at eight or nine percent per year? How much power are we going to need? And where is it all going to come from when there are already shortages of the two most commonly used energy sources in the country?" The option you fall back on is, ‘Well, let’s go nuclear. We have to go into all of them.
’ And of course, now they’re predicting two nuclear reactors every year for the next ten years. Who knows? Maybe five years from now, that will be four reactors every year. Perhaps when we all realize the extent of the energy shortage. Interviewer: How is this going to be sold to North America and Europe in the wake of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl? Eric Sprott: The way things might change is now that we have $50 oil, and the price is almost going up in an unlimited fashion. Now that we’ve got coal at double and uranium that’s gone up, people might finally realize there is not an infinite supply of certain things that we rely on. And that we might have to take a more pragmatic view of the nuclear option. I’m sure that is exactly what certain countries, including Japan, China and France, have done. The other thing is that there is a new reactor where you can’t have a meltdown. I’m not technically strong enough to explain it. The uranium is in graphite spheres, and they won’t melt down unless temperatures reach 2000 degrees.
The highest it ever goes to is 1600 degrees so it’s just not going to melt down. It doesn’t matter if things are out of control. They won’t break down. If that kind of assurance were accepted by the public – if someone could prove that that was the case – I think the nuclear option would be an incredibly viable option. Another thing that would make people think differently would be having brownouts for a while, or hyperinflation because of the shortage of coal, natural gas, and diesel fuel. If we had brownouts for a while, and of course they have brownouts in China, which is probably why they are proactive in moving nuclear along. Interviewer: How realistic is the global energy crisis moving toward a Hubbert’s Peak, an energy scenario from the year 1970? Eric Sprott: My view is that it seems very realistic. I think it is very important that we do go back to 1970. Look at the fact that Hubbert said in 1956 that 1970 will forever peak out (in terms of energy production). Lo and behold, it peaked out! It almost goes down every week in the United States.
Almost every week, there is a little less production. This is now with very high oil prices. It looks like his theory, for the geographical area called the United States, worked. Do we think it is going to work in the world? I tend to believe it is. I believe there are projections for Great Britain, which I think are at about 4.2 million barrels/day right now, that in ten years from now, will be down to 700,000. That’s what happens when fields go into decline. They go down, and you can not resuscitate them. Everyone who studies the topic knows that no significant discoveries have been made since the 1960s.
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