PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Langer Heinrich uranium project, in Namibia, can be brought back on line at a capital cost of $81-million, a mine restart plan has found.
ASX-listed Paladin Energy on Tuesday noted that a $34-million investment would be required to mobilise the workforce, undertake maintenance and provide working capital requirements to restart production, while a further $7-million in discretionary capital will be required to improve process plant availability and reliability, and to lift production capacity by more than 10%.
Langer Heinrich was placed on care and maintenance in May 2018, on the back of continued low uranium prices.
“The completion of the Langer Heinrich mine restart plan is a significant step forward for the company and completes the vast amount of study work undertaken over the past 18 months,” said CEO Ian Purdy.
“The operational and economic parameters identified in the chosen restart plan show the strategic significance of the Langer Heinrich asset and highlight the potential economic returns that can be delivered under the restart plan, and I look forward to updating the market on our ongoing activities.”
Purdy said that the low restart capital intensity of $14/lb and a competitive C1 cash cost of $27/lb confirmed that the project was well positioned alongside other Tier 1 operations to deliver product into a recovering uranium market.
The restart plan confirmed a 17-year mine life, with peak production expected at 5.9-million pounds of uranium dioxide a year, from the seventh year of operation. Over the entire mine life, Langer Heinrich could produce up to 88.5-million pounds of uranium dioxide.
The Langer Heinrich life-of-mine plan outlined three distinct operational phases, including ramp-up, which will take place in the first year of operation, mining, between the second and eighth year of production, and stockpiling, between year nine and 17.
Purdy noted that the use of currently stockpiled material in the ramp-up phase would reduce the operational startup risk and would provide a strong platform for the operation to move towards nameplate capacity within a 12-month period.
With the project still fully permitted to resume both mining and uranium exports, Paladin will continue to engage with potential offtake partners to secure term-price offtake agreements, and would advance critical-path elements of the restart plan, including continuing detailed mine planning, surveying the processing plant, process flow modelling and preliminary engineering, and further de-risking restart activities.
In the meantime, the project would remain on care and maintenance.