After more than 30 years of operation, open cut mining has finished at Energy Resources of Australia's (ERA's) Ranger uranium mine.
|Mining has finished at Pit 3 (Image: ERA)
The final ore from Pit 3 at the Northern Territory mine was extracted in the last week of November, with all in-situ reserves successfully mined from the pit. Operations have run at Ranger continually since 1981, with mining taking place during the dry season and the mine's treatment plant processing the stockpiled ore.
Open cut mining started at Ranger in 1980, with mining of the first pit completed in 1994. Development of Pit 3 began in 1996, with mining of the orebody commencing in 1997. From 1997 to 2011, the mine has produced approximately 67,000 tonnes of drummed uranium, ERA estimates. Work on backfilling the pit has already started, with the first phase of works expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
Ranger could be set to continue operations as an underground mine as ERA studies the potential development of Ranger 3 Deeps, an extension of the Ranger 3 orebody containing an estimated resource of 34,000 tonnes U3O8 (29,000 tU). Work is now under way on a boxcut and decline for the exploration project, with drilling expected to begin in the second quarter of 2013. In the meantime, the Ranger treatment plant will continue processing the stockpiled ore from open pit operations.
Ranger is one of four currently operating uranium mines in Australia, alongside Olympic Dam, an underground copper and uranium mine, and two in-situ leach mines at Beverley and Honeymoon, all in South Australia.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News