Uranium explorer Extract Resources has committed to going ahead with the development of its Rossing South project, and envisages first production in late 2013.
The 8-km uranium mineralisation has been confirmed as the highest-grade granite-hosted uranium deposit in Namibia, and one of the most significant uranium discoveries in decades.
Studies have indicated a maiden resource of 108-million pounds of uranium oxide at a grade of 430 parts per million.
Extract Resources chairperson Steve Galloway told Mining Weekly during a recent site visit in Namibia that Extract would be following an “aggressive schedule” for development.
“We expect to complete a feasibility study by mid-2010 and have plans to start stripping the area in about 12 months.”
A wholly owned subsidiary of Extract, Swakop Uranium, would be responsible for the development and construction of the mine.
Further, metallurgical testwork was being conducted on material from the areas of the planned starter pits, and final scoping of all infrastructure options was well advanced.
A preliminary cost estimate report on the mineralisation at the project indicated that the project could support a viable openpit mining operation developed to feed a 15-million-ton-a-year agitated tank sulphuric acid leach process plant. Production was estimated at 14,8-million pounds of uranium oxide a year.
Capital costs for development were initially estimated at just over $700-million, but Galloway indicated to Mining Weekly that it would “more likely” total about $1-billion.
He said that the bigger part of funding would probably come from the shareholders, but added that the company would also be looking at some project financing.
Aim-listed Kalahari Resources is Extract’s largest shareholder, and recently increased its share to 41%, while Rio Tinto Australia and Polo Resources are also significant shareholders.
Exploration drilling is continuing at Zone 1 and Zone 2, where significant New Zone discoveries were made in the latter part of last year, and where initial drilling intersection confirmed similar mineralisation still open at depth and along strike. Currently, the company has 15 drill rigs on site.