Bannerman Resources Limited has completed its Etango heap leach demonstration plant project and begun work to incorporate its findings into the Namibian uranium project's definitive feasibility study (DFS).
|The Etango demonstration plant (Image: Bannerman)
Bannerman completed a DFS and an environmental and social impact statement for Etango in 2012. Those studies confirmed the technical, economic and environmental viability of the project, which has received environmental approval from the Namibian Ministry of Mines, at "historic" uranium prices. The company subsequently carried out further studies to optimise the DFS, focusing on enhancements from optimised mining methods and design, which the company says, "substantially" improved the economics of the project. Now, it says, the demonstration plant testwork provides the opportunity to review the processing flowsheet.
The heap leach demonstration plant project was launched in 2014, and has involved a phased program of tests to demonstrate or simulate the heap leaching and solution recycling aspects of the processing route, validating assumptions made in the DFS. In its later phases the project aimed to optimise process parameters by drawing on lessons learned in the earlier phases. Last year, Bannerman extended the demonstration project to a sixth phase, to further optimise particle size distribution and establish optimal binder addition. The sixth stage was completed in January.
The findings from the demonstration project are now to be incorporated into the DFS update, with the aim of improving capital and operating costs. Bannerman is conducting the DFS update in conjunction with consultants Amec Foster Wheeler.
Bannerman CEO Brandon Munro said the demonstration plant program had been a "remarkable" success. "Not only have we consolidated Etango's position as one of the most advanced large uranium projects globally, but we have also generated substantial opportunities to enhance and further de-risk the Etango project," he said. "[W]e can now evaluate a stream of potential capital and operating cost wins that should collectively deliver a DFS update which substantially improves Etango's forecast economics", he said.
Etango is in Namibia's Erongo uranium mining region, which hosts the operating Rössing and Husab mines. Based on the DFS, production is expected to be 7-9 million pounds U3O8 per year (2690-3460 tU) for the first five years and 6-8 million pounds U3O8 per year thereafter over a minimum mine life of 16 years. The project has measured and indicated resources of 57,330 tU at ore grades of up to 0.019%, with inferred resources of 24,630 tU up to 0.16%.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News