Production has formally begun at Uranium Energy Corp's Palangana in-situ leach (ISL) uranium project, the first new ISL project to start up in the USA in five years.
|Palangana (Image: Uranium Energy Corp)
The first of three separate development phases at the 2500 hectare site in South Texas is now fully complete with 30 injection wells and 15 production wells on line. After a testing phase involving the circulation of water through the wells, production officially commenced when gaseous oxygen and carbon dioxide was added to the circulating water to activate the mining process. The carbonate solution thus formed dissolves the uranium from the sandstone host, and the uranium-bearing solution is pumped to the surface, where it is concentrated on resin beads. The resin is then trucked the 160 kilometres to Uranium Energy's Hobson processing plant for processing.
Regular deliveries of uranium-loaded resin from Palangana to Hobson are expected to commence before the end of November. Work is also under way to bring the next two phases of the wellfield on line. All 45 wells in Phase II have been completed and are targeted to start production in the first quarter of 2011, while three rigs are working on completing a similar number of wells in Phase III, scheduled to come online in the second quarter of the year.
Uranium Energy purchased Palangana from Uranium One in December 2009 and completed the permitting process to bring the project into production using ISL in January 2010. Although the company is laying claim to Palangana as the first new US ISL project to start up in five years, the site did see uranium production using similar technology in the mid to late 1970s. The most recent technical report for the project, released in February 2010, shows measured and indicated resources totalling 1.057 million pounds U3O8 at an average grade of 0.135%, plus an additional 1.154 million pounds U3O8 of inferred resources at an average of 0.176%.
Uranium Energy has a portfolio of uranium exploration, development and mining sites across the south western USA in Texas, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah including a large database of historic uranium exploration and development. The Goliad project, also in Texas, is now in the final stages of permitting. Company president and CEO Amir Adani said the company was "exceedingly proud" of Palangana's start-up. "This initial production is really just the first step in the company's regional strategy of greatly expanding resources and production in the re-emerging South Texas uranium belt, with the next project, the nearby Goliad ISR project, anticipated to join Palangana as a producing asset next year," he said.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News