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General Atomics opens big mine with big losses

It hopes uranium prices will recover some day.

The Four Mile uranium mine in South Australia officially opened last month. According to Australia media, the uranium will cost $40 a pound to produce while the market price is $28 a pound. The mine is owned by Quasar Resources, which is part of San Diego's General Atomics. Another company has 25 percent of Four Mile, but wants to get out of the deal. First, it sued, but then the two companies settled on terms that have not been publicized.

So Quasar and General Atomics will absorb fat losses, unless there is some subsidy arrangement that has not been revealed. General Atomics has another Australia uranium producer, Heathgate Resources, which has been losing a bundle of money.

The quality of Four Mile uranium is supposedly superior to that produced in other mines. General Atomics is hoping for higher uranium prices to make its mines profitable.

Uranium prices plummeted 50 percent after the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011.

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Got anything less radioactive to invest in?

shirleyberan: I invest heavily in utilities....oh, wait, the risk is there, too, in many of them. Best, Don Bauder

Don - I saw a report somewhere that revealed an experiment where plain water and microwaved water were used on separate plants. Guess what, the microwave watered plant died in about a week. I had my suspicions before, now I don't microwave.

shirleyberan: That is interesting. But it seems to me if use of microwaves were deleterious to human health, there would be a lot of evidence by now. Best, Don Bauder

shirleyberan that's an old one. perhaps you might want to look at this: http://www.snopes.com/science/microwave/plants.asp

danfogel: That Snopes article is quite interesting. Best, Don Bauder

Don Johnson: There is a huge capital investment in mines. And prices of the metals therefrom -- gold, silver, uranium, you-name-it -- are quite volatile. So the game is risky. GA is waiting for uranium prices to rebound. That might be sound strategy. Best, Don Bauder

Didn't GA end up in a messy situation in Colorado with an old uranium mine or mine and mill complex that might cost them billions? While I know that GA stands for General Atomics, the company seemed to be remaking itself as an aircraft, especially drone aircraft, manufacturer. That could turn out to be far more lucrative than "mucking around" with uranium mines. While they are working on a new generation of reactors that are far smaller, simpler, cheaper, etc. than the current SONGS-type set-up, the payoff there is a long way out into the future.

Ah, well, the Blue(s) brothers own the whole thing, and don't have to explain their moves to the public or a bunch of impatient investors. But at their ages, are they still thinking long-term?

Visduh: GA's Cotter Corp. affiliate got into environmental trouble at a uranium mine in Canon City, Colorado. It had purchased the facility from a utility. The mine was shut down at significant expense, but I don't know that GA lost billions of dollars on it. You may be right -- it could have been billions.

As to drones, GA is a major drone maker. There is a lot of controversy over drones, too. Yes, GA is privately-held. Best, Don Bauder

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