PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The board of ASX-listed Paladin Energy has approved a prefeasibility study (PFS) probing the restart of its Langer Heinrich mine, in Namibia, after a concept study identified a number of options to reduce operating costs, improve uranium process reliability, and to potentially recover a saleable vanadium product.
Langer Heinrich was placed on care and maintenance in May of last year, as uranium prices remained low.
A concept study to restart the operation was started in September, and completed this month, and verified that some $100-million in funding would be required to restart the operation.
“The study identified improvements to resolve known processing issues we have encountered in the project’s life to date and also to make well considered, low cost investments in the rapid restart option,” said Paladin CEO Scott Sullivan.
“This includes some necessary repairs and equipment replacement, scheduled tailings dam construction, additional surge capacity to increase process stability, process control system upgrade and deployment of a comprehensive management operating system which have been implemented in many operations in Australia to great effect.”
Paladin on Tuesday told shareholders that a PFS to restart the mine is expected to cost some $6.2-million, which will be funded from existing cash resources.
Sullivan said that the PFS would also examine Langer Heinrich’s capacity to produce a saleable vanadium product as a way of increasing the project’s long-term value.
“As a co-product credit, this would effectively lower Langer Heinrich’s cost of uranium production,” he added.
The PFS will be completed in two stages, with the first stage examining a rapid, low-risk restart to be completed in the first quarter of the 2020 financial year, while a more detailed study to progress upgrades will be completed in the third quarter.
Sullivan said that Langer Heinrich could be back in full production as early as mid-2021, subject to the validation of the concept study, allowing Paladin to be a first mover in the market if the uranium price recovery continues.