Namibia's Ministry of Mines and Energy has informed Extract Resources that it is prepared to grant the company's Swakop Uranium subsidiary a mining licence for the Husab uranium project. All necessary permits have now been received for development of the project to begin.
Extract - which submitted an application for a mining licence in December 2010 - said that Swakop Uranium has accepted the terms and conditions contained within the notice of preparedness. Therefore, in accordance with the Minerals (Prospecting and Mining) Act of 1992, the Minister of Mines will now direct the Mining Commissioner to issue a mining licence to the company.
Swakop Uranium received environmental approval for the linear infrastructure for the proposed Husab uranium project from the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism in July. That approval, covering access roads, electricity, telecommunications and water supply, was the final environmental approval needed for the project. The project mining area received environmental approval in January.
Extract announced a 37% increase in estimated uranium reserves for the Husab project - formerly known as Rössing South - in August. The total estimated ore in proven and probable reserves now stands at 280 million tonnes containing 319.9 million pounds U3O8 (123,000 tU). Ore grade forecast was also increased from 497 to 518 parts per million. Extract claims that Husab is currently the fourth largest uranium-only deposit in the world. The company expects a mine there to operate for over 20 years.
"We are delighted to receive the notification of preparedness to grant a mining licence," said Extract CEO and managing director Jonathan Leslie. He added, "This marks the final step to achieving all of the permits that we need in order to begin the development of the Husab uranium project."
Leslie noted, "Discussions with potential debt financiers of the project are well underway, and the company continues to evaluate offtake arrangements and opportunities for investment in the project by strategic partners. Plans for delivery of access, power and water infrastructure are well advanced."
Recent changes to Namibian mining policy on strategic metals, including uranium, will give state-owned Epangelo Mining Ltd control over new minerals developments but existing licences and applications are not affected.
Earlier this year, Extract confirmed that it was in discussion with Rio Tinto about combining the Husab project with the adjacent Rössing uranium mine to make the most of potential synergies from joint development.
More recently, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Uranium Resources (CGNPC-URC) had put forward, then withdrawn, a possible cash offer worth £756 million ($1.23 billion) to buy Extract's 42.79% owner Kalahari Minerals. Last month, Kalahari confirmed that it had resumed discussions with CGNPC-URC on a possible buyout.
Extract said that it is now aware that discussions have taken place between CGNPC-URC and Epangelo Mining in relation to a possible acquisition by Epangelo of a 10% interest in the Husab uranium project. However, Extract notes that any agreement between CGNPC-URC and Epangelo would need to be conditional on CGNPC-URC having acquired a controlling interest in Extract’s 100%-owned Husab Project.
Extract also said that its discussions with Epangelo are well advanced around the possible acquisition on commercial terms by Epangelo of a 10% interest in the Husab project, irrespective of whether or not any transaction involving CGNPC-URC occurs.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News