JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Incorporating membrane separation in the process plant design of the Madaouela uranium project, in Niger, could potentially result in operating and capital cost savings, project developer GoviEx Uranium said on Thursday, citing the results of a study performed by process engineering services provider Synexus.
“The potential operating and capital savings highlighted by Synexus’ review, while preliminary in nature, are encouraging and support our decision to undertake this assessment,” said GoviEx CEO Daniel Major, adding that the review underlined the firm’s strategy to focus on the optimization of the Madaouela project.
Synexus’ review considered several options where membrane separation could be potentially used in the process plant design.
Synexus’ overall approach and methodology for the review was to use the existing process design information as set out in the technical report for the membrane test data simulation models, which were then used to assess membrane performance for each option.
Membrane separation could contribute to both capital and operating cost savings because of one or a combination of possibilities such as smaller hydraulic capacity of downstream circuits as membrane separation may reduce the volumetric flowrate advancing downstream by between 85% and 90%.
Other possibilities contributing to capital and operation cost savings include more efficient management of solution chemistry that may optimize separation of uranium and molybdenum from the acid leach solution and from each other in the membrane concentration step.
Further, the required capacity of the sulphuric acid plant may be reduced, directly attributed to acid recovery and reuse, and indirectly owing to the reduction in acid used for potential of hydrogen (pH) correction.
Reagent consumption may also be reduced – in addition to consumption of sulphuric acid – because of recovery and reuse, or because of the reduction in use for pH correction.
The results from the preliminary review are of a significant enough scale to support the inclusion of membrane separation in the next-stage feasibility study for the Madaouela project.
“If these efficiencies prove to be fruitful at the Madaouela project, we will explore the possibility of applying them at our Mutanga project in Zambia,” said GoviEx executive chairperson Govind Friedland.