A pilot plant programme at the Dasa uranium project, in Niger, has delivered better-than-expected metallurgical results and with the required operating permits in hand, Global Atomic CEO Stephen Roman says the company is confident it could start building the Dasa mine early next year.
Confirmation of the metallurgical process to recover uranium was a key milestone for the project, keeping the feasibility study on track for completion in the third quarter.
Roman states that TSX-listed Global Atomic will start tendering for mill components to finalise costs.
The 2020 preliminary economic assessment estimated total capital costs of $203-million for the mine, which will produce 4.4-million pounds of U3O8 at an all-in sustaining cost of $1 839/lb.
Global Atomic says the pilot plant, erected within the Process Research Ortech facility in Canada, ran in a steady state fashion over a three-month period to process ore samples shipped from the Dasa project.
The ore samples were representative of the first five years of mining expected in the Phase 1 Dasa mine development plan.
Samples representing the first 20 months of mining were processed through a first pilot campaign and had leach uranium recoveries of 92.8% at acid rates of 80 kg/t of ore.
Deeper ore was processed in a second campaign at the same acid rates, but resulted in higher leach recoveries of 94.6%.
On the deepest ore processed in the third campaign, acid rates of 80 kg/t of ore resulted in 97.8% uranium recovery.
Given the increases in recoveries with increasing depth, acid rates were reduced to 70 kg/t, 60 kg/t, and 50 kg/t of ore in campaign three with resulting uranium recoveries of 95.1%, 94.3%, and 94.1%, respectively.
Solvent extraction based on the latest sodium carbonate stripping technology combined with a uranyl peroxide precipitation process resulted in near quantitative conversion of uranium from the leach into final uranyl peroxide yellow cake product. The yellowcake was dried or calcined to produce UO4 or U3O8, respectively, with low impurity levels without requiring further purification to produce these varying forms of saleable uranium concentrate.
Meanwhile, Global Atomic earlier this week closed its bought-deal private placement, raising C$12.5-million. Under the offering, the company sold 6.25-million units at C$2 each.