Fuel cycle roundup #2

09 August 2012

Uranium up for Rio

Production from Rio Tinto's uranium operations for the first half of 2012 were 54% up on the same period in 2011, the company has announced. The resumption of normal operations at the Ranger mine in Australia, where severe weather affected production in the same period in 2011, and improved crushing performance and slightly higher mill head grade at Rössing in Namibia resulted in output of 3.795 million pounds U3O8 (1460 tU) for the six months to 30 June.

Rio Tinto formally completed its acquisition of Canadian uranium exploration company Hathor Minerals during the first half of 2012, adding exploration properties in the Athabasca Basin including Roughrider to the group's portfolio. It also divested exploration properties including interests in Extract Resources and Kalahari Minerals during the period, netting $260 million and partially offsetting the effects of cost inflation and lower prices for coking coal and uranium leaving Rio Tinto's energy group with underlying earnings of $307 million for the period, 18% lower than in 2011.

Gold One unlocking Ezulwini

Gold One has completed its $70 million acquisition of First Uranium and has announced its plans for its South African operations, incorporating the Ezulwini gold and uranium mine with its $55 million uranium processing facility into its Cooke Underground Operations. A comprehensive turnaround program is to be implemented at Ezulwini to enhance revenue and reduce costs, and is currently focussing on the implementation of common services to realise synergies between the Cooke shafts, Ezulwini and surface operations at Randfontein.

Ezulwini is currently under care and maintenance, and a two-phase capital program to recommission the plant has been initiated with a view to a restart during the first quarter of 2013. The first phase, costing an estimated $2 million, will see the first 50,000 tonne per month module operating at full capacity. Ore will initially be trucked to Ezulwini until permanent transport arrangements, currently being evaluated, have been put in place.

Neal Froneman, president and CEO of Gold One, described the completion of the acquisition as a key component of company strategy and "extremely satisfying".

Greenland completes on Kvanefjeld

Greenland Minerals and Energy has finalised its full ownership of the Kvanefjeld uranium and rare earth element project in Greenland with the acquisition of the outstanding 39% of an exploration licence covering the Kvanefjeld, Sørensen and Zone 3 deposits. Full ownership of the project will allow the company to focus on "structuring investment opportunities for potential strategic partners," Greenland Minerals said in its announcement.

Pre-feasibility studies released earlier this year would suggest that Kvanefjeld could be among the bottom half of uranium producers in terms of cost, and one of the lowest cost rare earth element producers in the world.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News