Fuel cycle roundup #3

24 August 2012

Indian JV to buy into overseas mines

The government of India is proposing to set up a joint venture company to look into acquiring uranium assets in other countries. In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Indian parliament), minister of state V Narayanasamy said that the Indian Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has recommended that a joint venture company be set up between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL). Both NPCIL and UCIL are under the administrative control of the DAE.

The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD), also part of the DAE, is responsible for uranium exploration within India, although the country has very little indigenous uranium and relies heavily on imported material to meet the needs of its burgeoning nuclear power sector.

Final EIS for US deconversion plant

No environmental impacts would preclude the licensing of International Isotope Inc's proposed uranium deconversion facility in New Mexico, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has found. The NRC has issued its final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the plant, which would recover high-quality fluorine products from the depleted uranium hexafluoride tailings from uranium enrichment plants.

International Isotopes applied for a construction and operation licence for the facility, which will use the company's own patented fluorine extraction process, in December 2009. According to the NRC's licensing timeline for the plant, a licence may be issued not less than 30 days after the publication of the final EIS.

Offtake agreements for Paladin

Paladin Energy has secured two mid-term offtake agreements for the purchase of a total of 6.3 million pounds U3O8 (2423 tU) from its Langer Heinrich (Namibia) and Kayelekera (Malawi) operations. The material is to be delivered from late 2012 to the end of 2015.

The latest announcement comes a week after Paladin signed a long-term offtake contract with a "major utility" for 13.73 million pounds U3O8 (5281 tU) to be delivered from 2019 to 2024. That contract includes a prepayment of $200 million, with the unnamed utility holding 60.1% of Paladin's Michelin project in Canada to secure delivery of the uranium.

Paladin managing director and CEO John Borshoff said the latest contracts "confirm Paladin's increasing role in the term uranium market."

Epangelo out of Etango

A deal that would have seen Namibian state mining company Epangelo take a 5% interest in Bannerman Resources's Etango project has come to an end with the parties unable to agree terms.

The two parties signed an agreement earlier this year setting out the terms and conditions for Epangelo to buy into Bannerman's Namibian subsidiary, Bannerman Mining Resources Namibia (BMRN), for a total of approximately A$3.9 million ($4.1 million) with an option to acquire a further interest at a later date. According to an announcement from Bannerman, Epangelo had completed technical due diligence investigations within the specified four months from the agreement, but the parties had been unable to agree mutually acceptable terms under the commercial substance of the arrangement.

A recently completed definitive feasibility study for Etango, which comprises alaskite ore very similar to that found at the nearby Rössing mine, recorded proved and probable reserves totalling 119.3 million pounds U3O8 (nearly 45,900 tU) at the site. Bannerman says it is in a "solid position" and "under no compulsion to transact the Etango Project at cyclically low prices." Nevertheless, the company says it continues to pursue development partners both in Namibia and internationally.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News