URANIUM 1.02% $24.70 uranium futures

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    CANBERRA (Dow Jones)--High uranium prices have driven a sharp rise in exploration
    spending in Australia for the metallic fuel, Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane said
    In the 12 months ended March 31, spending on uranium exploration rose more than 70% on
    year to A$77 million, a 25-year high, he said in a statement.
    More than 200 companies explored for uranium in 2006, up from 34 in 2005, while the
    spot price of uranium tripled since July 2006 to US$135 a pound.
    Most of the exploration spending is in South Australia and the Northern Territory, the
    only jurisdictions that allow uranium mining, Macfarlane said.
    "While Western Australia and Queensland also have significant uranium deposits,
    nonsensical state government uranium mining bans mean those states aren't reaping
    these economic rewards," he said.
    Australia, a major global supplier, has almost 40% of the known world economic
    resources of uranium, demand for which from nuclear power generators has surged in recent
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