The Mining Report: The 27th annual ROTH conference was held in California last month. What’s the purpose of this conference?
Joe Reagor: We provide management access to our client base and provide exposure for the smaller-cap companies that are somewhat under-covered by the Street.
TMR: How would you sum up the sentiments of the participants?
JR: In the mining sector, I heard a bit of cautious optimism. Conditions seem to be improving, but the strength of the U.S. dollar is not helping most commodity prices. However, if you operate outside of the U.S., margins are improving.
TMR: With all the concern about a possible stock-market bubble, was there perhaps a feeling that miners may be due for a revaluation because they produce things of tangible worth?
JR: There has been more generalist interest in mining recently because of the fear that the broader market is getting a bit frothy in certain sectors. This lends support for diversification and investment in mining companies because, as you said, they do produce hard assets and can benefit should the overall market underperform.
TMR: Since we last spoke, the spot price of uranium topped $40/pound ($40/lb), and is now just above $39/lb. What are the fundamentals that have undergirded this rise?
JR: There was a significant supply overhang after the Fukushima disaster of 2011. Then there were two large sales that occurred after that, probably inventory liquidation, perhaps from Japan. We reached the bottom last summer.
The supply overhang peaked again due to increased production from Kazakhstan. But that is no longer a problem. Kazakh production is no longer growing, and some of the larger uranium projects globally have been put on hold. That has allowed the inventory level to return to normal levels and has enabled a more sustainable pricing point.
TMR: Where do you see …read more