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Countdown to Salamanca construction

Berkeley Energia is finalising arrangements for the start of construction at the Salamanca uranium mine in Spain, the company said in its latest quarterly report published on 23 January. With full funding in place, Berkeley is undertaking detailed final reviews and has selected Sanchez y Lago as its preferred mining contractor.

The company in November received an initial $65 million tranche of funding under a strategic investment of up to $120 million agreed last year with the Oman sovereign wealth fund. This funds the capital costs for construction, the company said. Now that it has received funding, the company said it is focusing on awarding major contracts, filling key management positions and conducting detailed reviews to ensure it achieves the best capital and operating costs as it prepares for full construction. Spanish construction company and contract miner Sanchez y Lago has been selected as the preferred mining contractor.

The majority of new staff required for the first construction phase will be recruited from the local villages of Retortillo and Villavieja, and Berkeley Managing Director Paul Atherley said the project has strong stakeholder support from a community which is experiencing high levels of unemployment.

The company has also engaged the University of Salamanca to study the impacts of the project on the local community.

“Previous studies have shown that there is a multiplier of 5.1 indirect jobs for every direct job we are creating,” Atherley said. “The benefits go well beyond employment.”

Berkeley Energia describes Salamanca as the only major uranium mine in construction in the world this year, and the company said it is scheduled to reach production “as the market enters the long-awaited supply/demand deficit”. Berkeley has 2.75 million pounds U3O8 (1050 tU) under contract for its first six years of production, with a further 1.25 million pounds of optional volume and says it intends to “progressively build its offtake book”. The Oman sovereign wealth fund has the right to match future uranium offtake transactions.

With a mining licence, environmental licence and Authorisation of Exceptional Land Use now in place, the next major approval the project requires will be construction authorisation from the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism for the treatment plant as a radioactive facility. Approvals for a potential satellite operation, Zona 7 – about 10 km from the Retortillo deposit, where first production will begin – are progressing well with final approval for Zona 7 expected in 2019.

Source: World Nuclear News

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