Botswana may produce first uranium in 2010, become second Nambia – Acap CEO

1st August 2008 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

Uranium mineralisation is so close to surface that one could mine with a “broom and a shovel”, says Australian uranium explorer Dr Andrew Tunks of parts of Letlhakane, in Botswana, where independent consultants have delineated a 100-million-pound resource in half the time scheduled.

Acap CEO Tunks predicts that where Acap is exploring will “certainly be one of the largest places of contained uranium anywhere”.

Uranium mineralisation in some trenches begins at a mere 20 cm below surface.

“It’s material you can pick up and crush in your hand. “It’s a massive resource with great scope to grow and we’ll be talking to the government on how to fast-track this and maybe getting into production by 2010,” Tunks says.

Envisaged is a simple digging up of the near-surface oxide material, placing it on a pad and leaching out the uranium.

Acap, which is listed on the Australian and Botswana stock exchanges with a market capitalisation of $40-million, set itself a 2008 goal of finding 100-million pounds, but did so by half year with a pre-dominantly Botswana staff.

It has new projects, some still unworked, including one in the north-west part of Botswana with similar mineralogy to that of Langer Heinrich, in neighbouring Namibia.

Its Letlhakane flag-ship is 70 km from Francistown and 350 km from Gaborone.

Transport, power and water infrastructure lies close to Acap’s 150-km2 radiometric anomaly at Letlhakane, where the younger Karoo sediment hosts uranium and older rock copper and nickel.

Ten Years of Mining

Tunks estimates 40-million pounds of uranium in the near-surface oxide material alone, which will be the initial focus, representing ten years of mining.

The 100-million-pound resource, announced four weeks ago, showed a 330% tonnage increase and a 30% grade increase over the initial 20-million-pound resource published in December 2007.

“We’ve touched less that 20% of the radioactive anomaly. It would be my guess that this will be one of the largest places of contained uranium anywhere in the world. “It’s a very, very substantial deposit, albeit of low grade, with enormous potential to grow,” he says.

Financial modelling will be released this month, followed by a move into prefeasibility stage to update the resource from inferred to indicated.

Testwork in the eighties yielded recoveries of more than 90% from the oxide material and Acap’s preliminary testwork suggests similar recoveries.

Every hole drilled has produced water and low-energy heap leaching is being considered, along with a primary crusher.

“The scoping report will show that we can mine this and make money. “I am very confident about that. And we will be working towards production in 2010, one year ahead of original schedule,” Tunks reiterates.

He says that Botswana is destined to become a second Namibia, where uranium mining is vibrant.

“We hold some of the best ground for the exploration of uranium in Botswana. “But I believe there is plenty of scope for others to be involved and to participate. “We believe there is enough around for plenty of players,” he says.