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Tickers in this Article: RTP, CCJ, UEC, URRE, DNN, URZ
The unexpected news of a violent political upheaval in the semi-obscure former Soviet Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, is unlikely to have any direct effect on world markets. But, if the unrest spreads to adjoining states in the region, with similarly autocratic regimes, then it could possibly put about one-quarter of the world's uranium production at risk.

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"Borat-stans" Are Key Uranium Producers
While production of uranium from stable countries like Canada and Australia accounts for about 40% of global production, about 25% of the world's mined supply of uranium comes from the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Both countries share a border with Kyrgyzstan and according to the CIA, have the same type of authoritarian government rule as was apparently overthrown next door. Ongoing ethnic tensions, environmental pressures centered on scare water resources, a narrow economic base and poor labor and social conditions are also present to the same degree that sparked the upheaval in Kyrgyzstan.

Disruption Could Send Prices Soaring
If such a scenario were to unfold, then it's not unreasonable to suggest that a large chunk of the world's uranium production could be adversely affected. With the world's nuclear power generating capacity set to increase significantly over the next decade as a means to reducing green house gas emissions, thus increasing uranium demand, any strategic disruption of supply could cause a spike in uranium prices.

Some U.S.-Listed Uranium Plays
In light of all this, it might just be the right time to take a stake in a uranium company. While the listed shares for most public companies that are either at the production or exploration stage can be mostly found on Canadian or Australian exchanges, a handful of uranium pure plays can be found on U.S. exchanges. These include a range of companies from market giants like Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP) and Cameco (NYSE:CCJ) which are the world's first and second largest producers of uranium, to a smaller Canadian producer like Denison (AMEX:DNN), or small somewhat speculative exploration plays like Uranium Energy (AMEX:UEC), Uranium Resources (Nasdaq:URRE) or Uranerz (AMEX:URZ) all of whom are active exploring for mineable uranium deposits primarily in the continental U.S. and Canada.

The Bottom Line
At around $40 a pound, current uranium prices are well down from the levels reached in 2007, when the prices spiked to nearly $140 a pound. Supply concerns drove the price up at that time, and while there's no guarantee that prices could once again reach those levels, such past performance does imply that the potential for such dramatic price moves is possible. And the catalyst could be a sudden and unexpected shift in the global supply dynamic. (Unsure of how to get started? Check out How To Invest In Commodities to learn more.)

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