First uranium from Niger mine

04 January 2011

The Azelik uranium mine in Niger has produced its first yellowcake for its Chinese owners. Meanwhile, an ocean away, the US nuclear regulator has received a licence application for a new in situ leach uranium project from an Australian company. 

First Azelik uranium (Image: CNNC)
Azelik's first drum of yellowcake on the production line (Image: CNNC)


Trial operation began at Azelik on 10 December 2010, with the first barrel of yellowcake being produced on 30 December, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has announced. The mine is the first of CNNC's overseas interests to enter production, under the control of its subsidiary China Nuclear International Uranium Corporation (SinoU).

Testing will continue at Azelik with a view to reaching full capacity (700 tU/year) as soon as possible, according to CNNC. SinoU has previously said that it hopes to raise production at Azelik, which has reported resources of 13,000 tU at 0.2%, to 2500 t/yr by 2015 and double that by 2020.

Azelik is owned by Societe des Mines d'Azelik SA (SOMINA), a joint venture established in 2007 in which the government of Niger has a 33% interest and SinoU holds 37.2%. The remainder of the company is owned by Chinese investment management company ZXJOY Invest, and China-based private mining and investment firm Trendfield Holdings.

Uranium has been produced in Niger since the early 1970s, and its two major operating uranium mines, Arlit and Akouta, feature in list of the world's top ten producers. French company Areva has significant interests in both Arlit and Akouta as well as Niger's largest ever uranium project, Imouraren, which is expected to start production in 2013.

Ross ISL licence application lodged

Australian uranium exploration company Peninsula Energy Ltd has lodged an application with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for permission to build and operate an in situ leach uranium facility at its Ross uranium project in north-eastern Wyoming.

The facility would include wellfields, pipelines and a central uranium processing plant, and Peninsula says it is looking to start uranium production in 2012.

In 2010 Peninsula identified a new, previously unknown, uranium district at Ross, part of the Lance project, from historic drilling data. The Lance project has JORC-compliant resource estimate of 25.2 million pounds U3O8 (9693 tU) at a concentration of 429 ppm.

The application was lodged by Peninsula's wholly owned US subsidiary Strata Energy Inc.

Researched and written

by World Nuclear News