South African uranium plant start-up on track
15 August 2007
First Uranium has announced that work to restart its Ezulwini gold and uranium mine in South Africa is on track, with first uranium production expected in June 2008 and plans for expansion.
Ezulwini is an underground gold and uranium mine 40 km from Johannesberg. It was sunk in the 1960s but production was suspended in 2001, primarily because of weak gold and uranium markets, and was mothballed. Ezulwini Mining, a subsidiary of First Uranium, signed an agreement in 2006 to buy the project from Randfontein Estates, and work towards a restart commenced in earnest in February 2007. To date, $29.1 million has been spent on the refurbishment project. The company plans to begin hoisting ore by October, stockpiling it for toll-milling before its own gold plant starts up in April 2008. Its first uranium plant module is due for completion in June 2008, with a planned production of 888,000 lb of uranium per year over the mine's 18-year lifetime.
The company is also carrying out work to 'prove up' a further 218 million lb of inferred uranium resources at the site, which it says could justify the sinking of a new shaft at the site and potentially increase production.
First Uranium expects uranium production from its other ongoing project, the Buffelsfontein Tailings Recovery Project, to begin in November 2008 and produce 922,000 pounds of uranium per year.
WNA: Nuclear Power in SouthAfrica information paper
WNA: World Uranium Mininginformation paper
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