Fuel cycle roundup #8

03 June 2013

Canadian First Nations in industry collaboration

First Nations communities in northern Saskatchewan are set to enjoy an estimated CAD600 million ($582 million) in economic benefits over the next ten years under a newly signed collaboration agreement between First Nation representatives and uranium producers. The agreement between the English River First Nation (ERFN), Cameco Corporation and Areva Resources Canada Inc is the result of two years of negotiations and formalises how benefits from uranium mining will be shared between the First Nation community.

The agreement is structured around business development, workforce development, community investment, community engagement and environmental stewardship. Most of the economic benefit will flow through business contracts and employee wages, but the two companies are also to provide a signing bonus, milestone payments and annual community investment payments based on mine production. Such payments are to be administered by a professional independent trust.

Milestone for laser loop

The completion of a scheduled milestone for the first phase of the test loop program to demonstrate laser technology for uranium enrichment has been successfully completed at GE-Hitachi subsidiary Global Laser Enrichment (GLE)'s facility in Wilmington, North Carolina. This involved technology demonstration of the SILEX (Separation of Isotopes by Laser Excitation) technology, which GLE is developing and commercialising under a 2006 agreement with Australian company Silex Systems. The test loop will now continue to be upgraded and optimised as part of the second phase of the program, which aims to provide full economic and engineering validation to support the construction and operation of the first commercial production module.

Silex Systems is to receive a $15 million milestone payment from GLE. Following a recent review and restructuring, the company anticipates two further milestone payments as the project progresses: $5 million on commencement of construction for the initial commercial plant, and $15 million on verification of construction compliance of the commercial plant by US nuclear regulators.

Lance clears penultimate hurdle

The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved Peninsula Energy subsidiary Strata Energy's application for an aquifer exemption at the Lance Projects Ross Permit Area in Wyoming. Only one licensing action now remains to be completed before construction can commence at the in situ leach uranium project: a Combined Source and Byproduct Material Licence from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which Peninsula says it expects to receive in December.

Possible separation for PhosEnergy

Australia-based Uranium Equities is looking into a possible separation of its exploration activities and its uranium by-product technology interests through a demerger of its PhosEnergy Process assets.

According to an announcement to the Australian stock exchange, the move is under consideration because "Uranium Equities considers the value of the PhosEnergy Process is not being adequately recognised by the market and the demerger proposal could unlock that value."

The PhosEnergy process uses ion exchange to separate uranium as a by-product from the production of phosphate-based fertilisers, and has been proven at the demonstration plant scale. Uranium Equities' exploration interests centre on the historic Nabarlek uranium deposit in Australia's Northern Territory. An open-pit mine operated at Nabarlek from 1979 to 1988, and the area has since been rehabilitated.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News