New uranium mining approaches in Hungary

06 August 2008

Australia's WildHorse Energy has joined with state-owned Mecsekérc to assess the feasibility of restarting uranium mining in the Mecsek Hills near Pécs in southern Hungary.


A cooperation agreement the two have signed includes an area WildHorse explored which has inferred resources of 11,600 tonnes of uranium (tU). The former Mecsek underground mine which operated from 1956 to 1997 is adjacent. 


Pécs (Wildhorse Energy)

The Pécs prospect: There's uranium in them there hills 
(Image: Wildhorse Energy)


Initially Mecsek's uranium ore was shipped to Estonia for milling, but from 1963 it was milled on site and concentrate exported to the Soviet Union. A total of about 21,000 tU was produced at an average recovery of 50-60%. Since 1997 the mine has been decommissioned and remediated at considerable expense (about $170 million). Some estimates suggest resources of 27,000 tU, while Uranium 2007: Resources, Production and Demand - often known as the Red Book - from the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency predicts 18,400 tU.


WildHorse aims to complete the initial technical and economic review under the cooperation agreement by the end of September. This will be discussed with relevant government agencies and community groups. The agreement will then extend to more detailed feasibility work.


Early last year WildHorse was granted a licence to explore for uranium in the western Mecsek mountains of southern Hungary. One of its four project areas is adjacent to the Mecsek mine, the others are within 25 kilometers. It also has exploration permits in the Sudetes mountains of southwestern Poland where twelve underground uranium mines were developed during the Soviet era. The company is also actively investigating the recovery of uranium from coal ash in Europe.