Sparton Resources has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Hua Jun Coal Mine to study the extraction of uranium from waste material produced at a germanium production plant in the Lincang area of China's Yunnan Province.
The Lincang area hosts at least two large coal basins - Bangmai and Mengwang - which contain significant amounts of uranium and germanium. These currently support seven germanium production plants, which produce large amounts of ash and waste containing uranium.
Germanium is an industrial metal, currently valued at some $1250 per kg, which is used in many electronics applications such as semiconductors and transistors, as well as catalysts, optical devices and various medical applications.
Sparton and its partners ARCN - the remote sensing and research branch of state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) - and Beijing John Hanseng Investment Consulting will conduct uranium analyses and leach tests on the coal and various types of waste material produced from burning of coal produced by Hua Jan Coal's three mines in the area.
Should the results prove encouraging, Sparton can purchase up to an 85% stake in Hua Jan Coal and all its assets including the coal mines and germanium production facilities, based on a negotiated price.
Previous sampling of coal ash waste material by Sparton indicated that bottom ash and fly ash samples taken from the area contain between 253 and 804 ppm uranium, which corresponds to grades of around 0.03% to 0.09% U3O8.
In early January 2007, Canada's Sparton announced the signing of an agreement with the Xiaolongtang Guodian Power Company for a three-phase program to test and possibly commercialize the extraction of uranium from waste coal ash at the company's thermal power stations in Yunnan province. Sparton has identified Xiaolongtang and nearby power plants as a possible major supply of uraniferous coal ash. In October, Sparton announced that it had successfully produced a small quantity of yellowcake (U3O8) from fly ash from the Xiaolongtang power plant.
Sparton has also signed agreements to do similar coal ash studies in six countries in Central Europe and with South Africa.
WNA's Naturally-Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) information paper
WNN: Sparton produces first yellowcake from Chinese coal ash
WNN: Sparton: More coal ash, more uranium
WNN: WildHorse and Sparton study coal ash
WNN: CNNC looks for new sources of uranium
WNN: Project to extract uranium from coal ash