Bannerman study scopes out alternative Etango development

10 August 2020

Developing the Etango uranium project in Namibia as an 8 million tonnes per year (Mtpa) throughput operation as opposed to the 20 Mtpa envisaged in previous studies will cut upfront capital costs while maintaining project economics, according to a newly completed scoping study by Bannerman Resources.

(Image: Bannerman)

The Etango-8 Scoping Study is the culmination of a review begun last year, of various project scaling opportunities that might exist for the Namibian project, company CEO Brandon Munro said. In addition to reducing the capital and funding hurdle compared to the original 20 Mtpa Etango development, which was evaluated in a definitive feasibility study (DFS) in 2012 and optimised in 2015, the new study also means the company will be able to predominantly mine shallower, higher-grade ore.

"The combined result is that the upfront capital intensity of the Etango Project per pound of annual production capacity has fallen materially whilst maintaining robust project economics," Munro said.

The forecast pre-production capital expenditure of USD254 million for the Etango-8 Project would deliver an "attractive" upfront capital intensity of about USD71 per pound U3O8 of average annual production, and an average final product cash operating cost (excluding royalties) of USD37 per pound.

The Etango-8 Project is expected to deliver more than 3.5 million pounds U3O8 (1346 tU) per year over an initial operating life of more than 14 years.

"This may be a reduced scale compared with the original Etango, but it is still a world-class uranium project and amongst the largest development projects in the sector," Munro said. "Importantly, while the Etango-8 Project provides a reduced scale of production entry, it does so without removing the option of subsequent expansion, including to the originally envisaged 20Mtpa Etango scale."

Bannerman is now proceeding with a pre-feasibility study (PFS) for Etango-8 which, given the work that has already been completed for previous studies, it expects to complete by the second quarter of 2021. Following completion of the PFS, Bannerman estimates it would take a further 9-12 months to complete a DFS for Etango-8, after which it would be able to apply to the Namibian Ministry of Mines and Energy to convert its Mineral Deposit Retention Licence to a Mining Licence. Construction is forecasted to take 18-24 months.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News