Berkeley Resources has announced that initial estimates for the Aguila Area (previously Mina Fe) and significant additions in the Retortillo Area, both in Salamanca province, Spain, have doubled its total mineral resource base.
|Plans would see the Quercus uranium mill put back into operation (Image: Berkeley)
Australia-based Berkeley said that mineral resources for the Aguila Area, which includes the Sageras, Palacios (previously Mina D) and Majuelos deposits total 22.5 million tonnes at an average grade of 417 part-per-million (ppm) for 20.7 million pounds U3
(7960 tU). These figures are JORC compliant.
In addition, mineral resources in the Retortillo Area have increased by 33% to a total of 19.9 million tonnes at an average grade of 512 ppm for 22.5 million pounds U3O8 (8650 tU).
The new resource estimates bring the company’s total mineral resources in Salamanca to 53.7 million tonnes at 442 pp for 52.4 million pounds U3O8 (20,155 tU).
Berkeley noted that confirmatory drilling is well advanced at the Alameda deposits, where it expects additional mineral resources will be reported in accordance with the JORC Code by the end of March.
The Salamanca Uranium Project incorporates the State Reserves, including the Aguila Area (Sageras-Zona M and Mina D) and Alameda deposits, Berkeley's Retortillo deposits and the Quercus uranium processing plant.
In early 2009, Berkeley entered a cooperation agreement with Spain's fuel cycle company Enusa Industrias Avanzadas SA under which Berkeley will undertake a feasibility study with a view to recommencing uranium mining based on Enusa and Berkeley's assets in Salamanca province.
Berkeley will have the right to acquire up to 90% of Enusa's uranium mining and exploration assets, which include State Reserve permits and access to Enusa's Quercus uranium processing plant (in its present condition), which was previously permitted to produce up to 950 tonnes of U3O8 per year.
Berkeley commenced a feasibility study on the Salamanca Uranium Project in May 2009 following cabinet approval of the cooperation agreement with Enusa and payment of a deposit of €5.0 million ($6.8 million) for the Enusa assets. The feasibility study is expected to take up to 18 months. It will focus initially on mining the Aguila and Alameda areas for processing through the Quercus Plant utilising heap leaching or dynamic leaching, or a combination of the two. The study will also address the potential for subsequently sourcing additional feed for the plant from nearby deposits.
According to a December 2008 Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) announcement, Berkeley's objective is to generate a total resource base for the project of over 65 million pounds U3O8 from Enusa's assets as well as its own resources in Salamanca Province.
Apart from Salamanca, Berkeley has some other projects including Caceres VI not far away with 4000 tU inferred resource (based on Enusa work), and two others in the east of Spain.
Spain's eight nuclear reactors generate a fifth of its electricity but has relied on imports to meet its uranium demand since mining ended at the Saelices el Chico mine in 2000 when uranium prices were much lower than today. The Quercus processing plant has been under care and maintenance since the last domestic uranium production was processed in 2003.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News