Sparton readies for uranium production from Chinese coal ash

04 March 2008

Sparton Resources has been granted a patent for the technology that it has developed for the extraction of uranium from coal ash in China. The company recently signed three key agreements in China to help commercialize the technology's use.

Beijing Sparton Mineral Resources Investment & Consulting Co Ltd, Sparton's 90%-owned China-based subsidiary, has been granted a patent for the Extraction and Recovery of Radioactive Uranium from Coal Ash by China's State Intellectual Property Bureau. The company will now complete the final registration documents for the patent and expects to receive the patent certificate within the next 30 days.

Sparton said that the patent means that, together with it operating partner ACRN, the Airborne Remote Sensing Institute branch of China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC), it has commercial protection from competition in uranium production from waste coal ash material in China. It added, "This patent is a unique document and believed to be the first of its kind ever granted to a foreign company in China for the application of process engineering technology."

The company signed three agreements in January for uranium and germanium production in China. The first agreement relates to establishing a joint venture with ACRN to produce uranium from waste material and coal ash in Yunnan province. The initial share interests in the joint venture are: Sparton, 60%; ARCN, 30%; and Beijing John Hanseng Investment Consulting Co Ltd, 10%. The new company - Yunnan Sparton New Environ-Tech Consulting Co Ltd (YSN) - is structured as an environmental solutions company and will be eligible for government and local financial institution funding assistance. YSN will be responsible for all waste testing, development and production of uranium from waste ash material in Yunnan, including the current programmes evaluating the Lincang and Xiaolongtan waste ash deposits.

Sparton has also signed an agreement with Tianhao Group Ltd China, a Lincang germanium producer, to test and extract uranium from the large government-controlled ash waste pile that has been sampled by Sparton. The agreement provides for the Tianhao Group to receive either a negotiated processing fee or royalty on any uranium production by YSN from the waste ash or other process waste material it controls.

In addition, Sparton has entered a preliminary agreement to acquire an 85% stake in Linjiang 306 Huajun Coal Co Ltd Lincang City for some $3 million. The Chinese company's assets include infrastructure and mining licences covering three coal mines producing thermal and germanium coal feedstock. It also owns an ash waste pile of some 100,000 tonnes averaging about 170 ppm U3O8.

Samples for initial uranium leach tests are currently on route to Sparton's process engineering consultants Lyntek Inc in Denver, USA. If leach test results are positive, feasibility studies will be undertaken to evaluate the commercialization of uranium from these waste ash areas. The initial leaching tests are expected shortly.

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