Greenland feasibility study complete

26 May 2015

Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd (GMEL) has completed a feasibility study for the Kvanefjeld uranium and rare earths project and plans to start the permitting process by the end of 2015.

According to the study, Kvanefjeld's resources will support an initial mine life of 37 years, with further scope to expand production and extend mine life. The project will produce rare earth products, uranium, zinc concentrate and fluorspar.

The project, in southern Greenland, comprises several large multi-element deposits which collectively represent one of the world's largest identified mineral resources of rare earths and uranium, GMEL said. The most recent resource estimates for the project, announced in February, include 593 million pounds U3O8 (228,100 tU) and 11.13 million tonnes TREO (total rare earth oxide).

The study incorporates seven years of technical, environmental and social studies, based on the development of a mine, mineral concentrator, refinery and supporting infrastructure treating 3 million tonnes of ore annually. The total capital cost of the is estimated at $1.361 billion, comprising $1.121 billion of project costs, including plant, utilities and indirect costs, plus $240 million of expenditure on associated infrastructure including power supplies, a port and a village.

The capital cost has increased since an earlier study released by GMEL in 2013, reflecting the relocation of the rare earth refinery in Greenland to comply with the country's mining legislation. The earlier mine and concentrator study had envisaged shipping mineral concentrate to a dedicated refinery elsewhere in Europe. This change has added about $300 million to the project's capital costs but improved processing efficiency means that the net present value for the project is unaffected.

Uranium will be a secondary product for Kavanefjeld: the project's primary product will be a critical mixed rare earth oxide (CMREO) concentrate. (Critical rare earths including neodymium, praseodymium, europium, dysprosium, terbium, and yttrium are forecast to be in short supply over time.) In addition to 7,900 tonnes per year of CMREO, the project is expected to produce 512 tonnes of uranium oxide per year, at an incremental cost of less than $5.77 per pound U3O8.

As well as the feasibility study, environmental and social impact assessments must be completed before GMEL can submit an exploitation licence application to the government of Greenland. The company aims to complete the remaining assessments in the third quarter of 2015, so that it can lodge the licence application by the end of the year.

GMEL managing director John Mair said the feasibility study presented a "compelling case" for the project's development and said the strategy to develop was on track. "We look forward to completing the impact assessments in order to finalise an exploitation license application and commence the permitting process later this year," he said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News