Quasar Resources anticipates mining operations starting at the Four Mile uranium mine in South Australia in April, but project partner Alliance Resources has yet to agree on a development plan.
| Drilling at Four Mile (Image: Quasar)
The Four Mile project is a joint venture between Alliance Resources (25%) and Quasar Resources (75%), a subsidiary of US-based General Atomic Technologies Corp. However, Alliance and Quasar hold differing views on how the project should be developed.
Quasar, which manages the project, has now unilaterally approved a revised start-up plan and budget for Four Mile. Its plan will see in-situ leach (ISL) production starting at the east orebody in April, trucking the loaded solution for product recovery at Beverley, owned by another subsidiary of General Atomics, Heathgate Resources. Quasar has scheduled first uranium oxide sales for July.
Under Quasar's latest start-up plan, some 817 tonnes U3O8 (692 tU) would be produced by the end of 2014, by which time it expects to sell about 680 tonnes U3O8 (577 tU). The company has budgeted expenditure of AUD76.9 million ($68.4 million), of which Alliance's share will be AUD19.2 million ($17.1 million).
However, Alliance would prefer not to ship solution to Beverley, claiming that an appropriately sized stand-alone plant at Four Mile would reduce operating costs for the project partners.
Some AUD87.7 million ($78.0 million) will have been spent between November 2012 and the end of this year on developing Four Mile. This includes resource delineation drilling of AUD12 million ($10.7 million). Quasar maintains that this is a mining development for which Alliance must pay its share, but Alliance asserts it is an exploration cost for which Quasar must pay in full.
The start of production from the project has been stymied by legal disputes between Alliance, Quasar and Heathgate. There are on-going Federal Court proceedings by Alliance seeking restitution of its full ownership of the Four Mile deposit due to delays and disagreements.
A mining and mineral processing licence for Four Mile was granted in August 2013 by the South Australian Environmental Protection Authority. The licence also covers radiation and radioactive waste management plans for the mine.
Four Mile has total indicated and inferred resources of 32,000 tonnes U3O8 (27,000 tU) at an average ore grade of 0.33%.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News