ISL uranium projects make progress

19 April 2011

In-situ leach (ISL) uranium projects in Australia and the USA have taken steps forward with the announcement of a final optimisation study for the Four Mile project in South Australia and the award of a deep disposal well licence for the Lance uranium project in Wyoming.  


Alliance Resources has announced the completion of a final optimisation study for a stand-alone ISL and uranium processing plant at the Four Mile project. The study puts the capital cost for a complete standalone plant to produce 5 million pounds U3O8 (1900 tU) per year at around AUD210.1 million ($221 million). Operating costs are estimated at AUD21.53 ($22.65) per pound. The estimated capital cost is some AUD42 million higher than suggested by the scoping study and more than double the estimated costs of an earlier proposal. This could have seen a satellite plant capture uranium using resin beads which would then have been trucked to Heathgate Resources' nearby Beverley plant for further processing. That plan hit the buffers when Alliance launched litigation against erstwhile partner Quasar Resources and Heathgate in mid-2010 over failures to disclose information related to exploration at the project.

Alliance said that utilising existing field well patterns at Four Mile East could possibly reduce the capital cost to A$181 million ($190 million).

Major milestone for Lance

Peninsula Energy has been granted a deep disposal well (DDW) licence for its Lance uranium project by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ). According to Peninsula, the DDW licence is one of three main licences needed before mining operations can start at Lance. The licence will allow at least five wells to be constructed and tested in the Ross Permit area of the project.

Gus Simpson, Peninsula's executive chairman, described the DDW licence as a major milestone in the permitting process. "The deep disposal of mineral processing waste is the most controversial part of ISR mining," he explained. The company is now waiting for its Source Material Licence and its Permit to Mine, applications for which have been lodged with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and WDEQ respectively.

Peninsula drew particular attention to the speed at which the DDW licence was granted, without requests for additional information from the reviewing agency and with no comments from the general public received during the review period. "These facts speak to the quality of the application studies, the licence applications, the ongoing outreach program and the level of acceptability of uranium extraction in Wyoming," the company claimed.


Peninsula recently announced a 31% increase in resources at Lance, to 33 million pounds U3O8 (12,700 tU). The company is planning to produce 1.5 million pounds U3O8 (580 tU) per year from the Ross Permit area, eyeing a 2012 production startup.  


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News