Mineweb’s Australian commentator, Ross Louthean, with more than 30 years involvement in the sector behind him, picks his top 12 up and coming projects in the ultra-hot uranium sector.Author: Ross Louthean
Posted: Friday , 11 May 2007
What are the top 12 uranium projects in Australia? Several had been sleeping for decades and were re-awakened when the new uranium rush began in the country in the past two years. Mineweb's Australian correspondent who has followed the downs and ups for uranium exploration over the years filed this summary listing after consulting two old hands in the uranium sector.
Political differences will need to be addressed before some of these will see the light of day, but the momentum seems to be moving in favour of new uranium mine construction, although this may take longer in some States than others.
- Four Mile (SA). Quasar Resources, subsidiary of Heathgate Resources 75%, Alliance Resources 25% An initial resource for part of Four Mile West was 3.9 Mt at 0.37% U3O8, for 32 million lbs contained U3O8. Grade and roll front-style deposits should provide excellent economics, given that Heathgate's Beverley mine is 10 km away. Alliance said drilling was confined to about 1 km2 covered by this resource statement is within more than 5 km2 of potential mineralisation.
- Honeymoon (SA). Uranium One's proposed In Situ Leach (ISL) mine has key permitting from the SA government and was slotted for development in 2009 but may now dovetail into Uranium One's broader global planning - after its acquisition of assets in Kazakhstan.
- Jabiluka (NT). Energy Resources of Australia, controlled by Rio Tinto plc. One of Australia's long-mothballed deposits with reserves of 12.8 Mt at 0.52% U3O8 and a measured-to-inferred 21.07 Mt at 0.46% U3O8, plus a 1 million oz gold deposit. ERA's need to streamline development, subject to Aboriginal landowner sanctions, may have eased with the higher uranium price making Ranger's vast lower grade stockpiles economic to work too.
- Kintyre (WA). Rio Tinto may target a development with strong support from the local Martu Aboriginal people. Rio Tinto has outlined significant scope for other metals. The measured to inferred resource of 12.7 Mt at 2.75 kg/t for a contained 34,924t of U3O8 is considered ultra conservative by many observers.
- Bigryli (NT). Energy Metals Ltd 53.3%, Paladin Resources 41.7%, Southern Cross Exploration 5%. There is an inferred-indicated resource of 14.3 M lbs of U3O8 and 16.3 M lb of vanadium pentoxide. The JV began a major new drilling programme in May, focussing mainly on targets outside the resource envelope. The JV has a good working relationship with local Aborigines.
- Yeelirie (WA). A mothballed WMC Resources advanced project from the 1980s now in BHP Billiton's hands. BHP has remained low profile but this is Australia's technically best-packaged deposit for development. Yeelirrie has an indicated 35 Mt at 1.5 kg/t for 52,500t of U3O8.
- Skal-Valhalla (Qld). Now controlled by half owner Paladin Resources which has an advanced takeover of partner Summit Resources. Skal has an indicated-inferred 7.712 Mt at 1.095 kg/t for 8,4506 of U3O8 while Valhalla has 33.3 Mt at 0.781 kg/t for 26,040t contained U3O8. French utility Areva is in the mix with an offtake-equity arrangement with Summit that is yet to be resolved.
- Crocker Well (SA). PeninNini Minerals Ltd-Sinosteel Corporation. The most advanced of this JV's Curnamona Basin JV with resource of 19.8 million lbs of U3O8 and an ambitious target of development within three years. Politics are highly favourable, being in SA and in a region of high unemployment.
- Centipede (WA). Nova Energy's most advanced deposit in the Lake Way area near parent Oxiana Ltd's Wiluna gold mine. This shallow, flat lying and soft dig deposit has appealing economics but must await the eventual departure or softening anti-uranium stance of Premier Allan Carpenter. The inferred resource is 7 Mt at 0.63 kg/t for a contained 4,410t of U3O8.
- Ben Lomond (Qld). Canada's Mega Uranium gained this project through takeover of Australian company Redport. This long mothballed target was established by a group of international utilities and has an indicated 1.328 Mt at 0.27% U3O8 for 7.9 M lbs U3O8, and an inferred 602,585t at 0.21% for 2.8 M lbs U3O8.
- Mount Gee (SA). Marathon Resources has undertaken more detailed exploration on this old discovery with consultants recommending an underground mining operation in the North Flinders Ranges. Mt Gee now has an inferred 45.5 Mt at 0.068% U3O8, or 69 M lbs of contained U3O8.
- Mulga Rocks (WA). Prospector Michael Fewster won a court hearing in early May for full ownership of this remote Mulga Rock project which had been a 1980s discovery by PNC of Japan. Fewster has links with Perth-finance group LinQ Resources Fund and another company. Uranium Equities Ltd which had claimed 50% but Supreme Court Judge Le Miere had said there was no enforceable contract with Fewster. Late 1990s data shows that the Emperor Shogun and Ambassador deposits had a non-JORC Code 10.8 Mt at 1.2 kg/t for 13,000t of contained U3O8.
Sources: Company reports, Intierra's Minmet data base, Register of Australian Mining.