Newly released results from a pre-feasibility study (PFS) of the Etango-8 uranium project have confirmed the strong technical and economic viability of conventional open pit mining and heap leach processing of the deposit in Namibia, Bannerman Energy has announced. The company now plans to complete a definitive feasibility study (DFS) in 2022.
The PFS follows a scoping study, completed last year by Western Australia-based Bannerman, which provided an early-stage confirmation of the technical and commercial viability for development of Etango as an 8 million tonnes per year (Mtpa) throughput operation as opposed to the 20 Mtpa envisaged in previous studies. This, the company said at the time, would cut upfront capital costs while maintaining project economics.
The PFS is informed by the vast body of previous technical work carried out at Bannerman’s 95%-owned project, the company said. The heap leach process route has also been comprehensively de-risked via operation of the Etango Heap Leach Demonstration Plant, an industrial-scale plant that operated at the site from 2015. The PFS references a declared maiden ore reserve for Etango-8 of 117.6 million tonnes at 232 ppm U3O8 for 60.3 million lbs U3O8 (23,194 tU).
For life-of-mine production of 52.9 million pounds U3O8 over 15 years with annual average production of 3.5 million pounds U3O8, the PFS finds an average final product cash operating cost of USD39.5 per pound. Pre-production capital expenditure is forecast to be USD274 million.
There is further upside potential from future life extension and/or scale-up expansion, while the long-term scalability of the project up to 20 Mtpa, as confirmed by the previous DFS. No further exploration drilling is currently planned at the project, which has measured and indicated resources of about 150 milllion pounds U3O8.
Bannerman CEO Brandon Munro said he was “extremely pleased” with the outcomes of the Etango-8 PFS. “The underlying robustness of this streamlined development approach to the world-class Etango resource has now been confirmed to a PFS level of accuracy,” he said.
Bannerman’s Board has already approved the start of a DFS for completion in the third quarter of 2022. “This process will again benefit from the fact that Etango has already been the subject of a definitive level of feasibility study, at a larger scale, in recent years,” Munro said.
Bannerman plans to submit an application for a mining licence to the Namibian Ministry of Mines and Energy in conjunction with the completion of the DFS. The company already holds a Mineral Deposit Retention Licence over the project area, which is in the Erongo region, and the conversion of this to a mining licence would be expected to be a relatively short process, it said.
Construction of the Etango-8 Project is expected to take about 24 months, including detailed front-end engineering and design.
The company, which is listed in Australia and Namibia, recently changed its name from Bannerman Resources to Bannerman Energy to reflect its focus on uranium, an energy metal, and its continued commitment to the uranium sector and the nuclear power industry.
Source: World Nuclear News