Ura Holdings (LON: URAH) shares are back and listed again in London. The listing announcement is here. It is possible to play Ura for trends and movements but it could be said to lack a certain something as an investment opportunity.
As background Ura used to be a uranium miner looking to operate in Tanzania. “Uranium Resources plc, the AIM-listed uranium exploration company operating in Tanzania,” The basic idea, to apply in situ mining techniques, wasn’t necessarily a bad one. It didn’t work out, well, that happens to junior miners sometimes. There was then some in and out dallying with the listing and a delisting. After which Ura announced a move into medical cannabis which was an interesting business area at the time. Now there’s this new refocus on Southern Africa mining and the return of the quotation to the exchange.
That bounce back and forth between business lines might raise an eyebrow but on the other hand, many a good project has been injected into a shell over the years. What matters is the prospects for the new venture, not what the corporate shell itself has tried to do over the past.
The current plan looks, well, a bit woolly perhaps. They’ve issued stock to take over the tenements of Malaika (1,284 km2 worth) and are then going to go looking for “niobium, tantalum, lithium, beryllium (beryl), caesium, rare earth elements, rubidium, scandium, and graphite, all of which have been classified as critical minerals on the US Government's list of critical minerals”. This is not an idea which inspires great confidence.
All of those elements – or minerals – will be there in such a large area simply because that’s the way geology works. The world is made of only 92 elements, after all. Whether there will be any economic concentrations of them is the thing to be found out. And every mining operation does have to start at this stage. What is there, out there in this patch of ground, that might be economically mined?
The unkind might say that looking for such a wide variety of minerals though is just having taken the list of currently fashionable ones to look for and then declaring those are the targets. A little more finesse, possible even selectivity, might be thought useful. The global scandium market is some 15 tonnes at present. The American rubidium market is perhaps 2 tonnes a year and the global market is so small there are no accurate statistics on it.
Declaring that you are going mining for rubidium is one of those things that experienced market analysts might say is a sign of not being entirely serious – or of not having thought through the plans quite entirely.
There can be all sorts of fun in the share prices of junior miners like Ura Holdings. Microcaps can move in and out of fashion in a heartbeat. But any serious interest in Ura from institutional investors is likely to require a certain sharpening up of these plans.
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Tim Worstall is a freelance writer specialising in economics and the financial markets.