PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Dual-listed Paladin Energy on Friday confirmed that its Langer Heinrich uranium mine, in Namibia, was being placed under care and maintenance, but said that the low-cost openpit operation would be one of the first to resume production when the uranium market normalised.
Paladin in April said that it was unlikely to resume physical mining activities at the mine despite the medium-grade ore stockpile currently feeding the processing plant set to be exhausted before mid-2019.
The ASX and TSX-listed company on Friday said that it had received consent from all the relevant stakeholders to place the operation under care and maintenance, and had now stopped presenting ore to the plant.
There would be a run-down phase of up to three months where various stages of the plant would be progressively suspended and cleaned, and during this time, there would be some continued production of finished uranium.
Paladin noted that once the run-down phase was complete, operations would have been completely suspended and Langer Heinrich would be under care and maintenance.
The company noted that the decision to place Langer Heinrich under care and maintenance was not taken lightly, particularly as it would impact a number of employees and contractors, as well as the community in which the mine operates.
“However, care and maintenance is the most logical decision to preserve Langer Heinrich’s valuable uranium resource and mitigate operating cash flow losses. The company believes the ongoing care and maintenance costs will be substantially less than the Kayelekera mine, in Malawi, due to differences in water balance and plant footprint,” Paladin said.
Furthermore, the Langer Heinrich mine was expected to have a relatively low working capital requirement and short lead time to resume operations.
Paladin was expecting the uranium market to normalise over the next few years, in the absence of any external shocks, with the company telling shareholders that curtailments by producers could serve to accelerate the anticipated market correction.