Denison ramps up activities at Wheeler River

09 February 2021

Denison Mines is to carry out further field testing activities to de-risk the use of in-situ leach (ISL) methods at the high-grade Phoenix uranium deposit at the Wheeler River Uranium Project in Saskatchewan, Canada. Wheeler River is a joint venture between Denison (90% and operator) and JCU (Canada) Exploration Company Limited (10%), with combined indicated mineral resources of 132.1 million pounds U3O8 (50,812 tU) and inferred resources of 3.0 million pounds U3O8. The project is estimated to have mine production of 109.4 million pounds U3O8 over a 14-year mine life.

Wheeler River (Image: Denison)

Announcing its 2021 evaluation programme yesterday, Toronto-based Denison said the Wheeler River Joint Venture (WRJV) will coordinate the completion of a formal feasibility study with the submission of a final environmental impact statement (EIS). This approach will allow for the integration of outcomes from environmental assessment, community consultation, and project design efforts. The WRJV has approved a CAD24.0 million (USD19 million) evaluation budget for 2021 (on a 100% basis).

The Wheeler River 2021 Evaluation Programme includes the restart of the environmental assessment process, which has been adapted to reflect COVID-19 protocols. The process was suspended in March 2020 due to the pandemic but was resumed in January.

A five-spot test pattern of commercial-scale wells is planned, to evaluate and confirm the ore body's hydrogeological characteristics. This will also support the finalisation of the production well design pattern, confirm cost estimates and designs, and provide data ahead of a lixiviant test, which is planned for 2022. The 2021 programme also includes detailed ISL metallurgical testing and engineering activities.

President and CEO David Cates said Denison's technical team had made "considerable progress" towards de-risking the use of ISL at Phoenix since the Wheeler River pre-feasibility study. This study, which considered the potential economic merit of developing the Phoenix deposit as an ISL operation and the Gryphon deposit as a conventional underground mining operation, was released in late 2018.

"The company is well-funded for 2021, and has developed an ambitious evaluation programme, which reflects a significant ramp-up of our technical and environmental activities. Our 2021 plans are focused on achieving Denison's goals of initiating a formal feasibility study by late 2021 and submitting a draft EIS in early 2022 - both important steps necessary for the company to make a future development decision for Phoenix," he said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News