Paladin Energy Ltd will allow its $27 Million takeover offer for NGM Resources Ltd to lapse, after terrorist activity in North Africa raised concerns about the future of NGM's exploration and development in the area.
The abduction of seven employees of French uranium company Areva and its contractor, from Arlit, a Nigerian uranium mining town, meant the conditions of Paladin's all-scrip offer could not be fulfilled, the company said in a statement.
"In the light of these material unforeseen events, NGM's ability to safely access, explore and develop the resource base of its exploration tenements following the completion of the takeover bid would be seriously compromised," Paladin said.
"Safety concerns would prevent Paladin Group expatriate personnel from working in Niger’s uranium region within a suitably secure environment for an, as yet, unknown period of time."
According to an Associated Press report, al-Qaida-linked gunmen took responsibility for the kidnapping, during which they breached the security cordon of one of the world’s most heavily guarded mining towns.
Such action “shows a new level of brazenness", the report said.
Paladin will allow the offer, of one of its shares for every 23.9 NGM shares held, to lapse on October 8. But it said it plans to keep the 22.5 per cent stake in NGM that it already owns. It said it would monitor the state of security in Niger before deciding its future plans in the country.
URANIUMSA - (ASX-USA) has tripled the uranium resource at its Mullaquana project south of Whyalla.
The Adelaide company said it had now delineated 38.7 million tonnes of ore, estimated to contain 10,400 tonnes of uranium oxide, equivalent to 22.9 million pounds.
The average thickness of the mineralised areas was 11.85m, with the mineralisation starting just more than 50m below the surface.
The previous resource estimate was for 2700 tonnes of uranium oxide.
UraniumSA managing director Russel Bluck said the new estimate was a strong step forward for the company.
This is the most significant outcome for the project to date and is especially so as the resource envelope contains areas of higher grade material while remaining open in several directions," Mr Bluck said.
"We plan to continue to progressively update the resource estimate with more drilling, as areas of higher grade mineralisation have the potential to move to higher resource classifications.
"Today's result is in line with our previously flagged exploration objective of having above 20,000 tonnes of uranium mineralisation in drilled inventory within the Mullaquana project areas by late this year through to early next year.
"Certainly, the growing inventory of potentially economic mineralisation gives the board a high level of confidence that the Mullaquana project will continue to evolve from a greenfields discovery into a uranium asset of Australian and international significance."
UraniumSA is aiming to start production at the project by the middle of 2012, and has started the regulatory approval process for an in-situ field leach trial, which it hopes to start in mid to late 2011.
Adelaide-based uranium miner says Australia will play a key role in meeting a global shortfall in uranium supplies.
With uranium emerging as a worldwide energy solution, Australia will play its part through expanding existing mines and discovering and developing new deposits, Toro Energy Ltd says.
Managing director Greg Hall told the World Nuclear Association in London that while $US3 billion ($A3.2 billion) and been spent globally on uranium exploration since 2003, new discoveries had been limited.
"There have been some new, globally significant discoveries and there will be a few more, somewhere we believe in the order of five new globally significant uranium discoveries are likely between 2003 and 2020, Mr Hall said.
"However, it will be on average between eight to 15 years before any of these opportunities move from discovery to stable production."
While that presented opportunities for Australia, Mr Hall said local producers could miss out on global opportunities unless new projects were brought on through the approval and feasibility process amid the right pricing environment.
With high prices Australia could be producing 7000 tonnes of additional uranium oxide by 2015, rising to an additional 14,000 tonnes by 2022, Mr Hall said.
Toro has just completed the trial mining test pit at its Wiluna project in Western Australia with production expected from 2013
The Fremont County Commissioners on Tuesday tabled an application by Black Range Minerals to expand its area of exploration in the Tallahassee Creek area.
The public hearing on the conditional use permit was continued to the Sept. 28 meeting at which time the commissioners will attempt to have the independent water expert hired by the county to answer questions from the public and officials. The board will accept written public comments through Sept. 22, and public comments will be accepted at the meeting but only if it relates to the water expert’s findings.
Mike Haynes, managing director of Black Range Minerals, said the company plans to expand its exploration of uranium deposits in the area to include the Hansen ore deposit beneath the South T-Bar Ranch development.
Haynes said the permit would not increase the amount of work being done in the area. The original 2008 permit allows 800 exploration holes to be drilled on 8,169 acres during an eight-year period. That would not change under the new permit, Haynes said. The application would change to add 2,210 acres to the permitted area for a total of 10,379.
“The Hansen deposit is the best understood of the deposits in the district,” Haynes said. “It is certainly a significant uranium deposit.”
The company has been in negotiations to acquire the mineral rights of the deposit.
The new parcel is immediately adjacent to the original permit area, which is part of the reason the current application is to amend the original.
He said surface water and domestic well monitoring has been going on since 2008, and they would like to make some changes to that process, including adding wells and reducing domestic monitoring to once per year instead of twice. They also are seeking access to CR 21.
“I see them as relatively minor items,” Haynes said. “We have been in compliance. We are not seeking to undertake more work.”
The commissioners had 21 people request time to speak on the issue. Most opposed the permit and expressed concerns about contamination in the area’s water.
“They’ve never drilled a single monitoring well to this date,” said Michael Meyrick. “They didn’t do it, and they consciously didn’t do it.”
Catherine Meyrick provided commissioners with endorsements from 60 local business owners opposing the permit.
“These are people who provide real jobs in this county,” she said. “We have valid concerns that continued contamination of our streams is foreseeable.”
“You are elected officials by us, we the people,” Lyn Minasi said. “What price has Black Range Minerals promised this county for contamination and the people’s health? What price is this county going to have to pay when all is said and done and they walk away?”
Ed Franz said if a terrorist were to dump radioactive material into the creeks, they would get a “reservation at Supermax.”
“There should be consequences for those that contaminate,” he said. “I foresee a likely outcome of continued contamination.”
Nancy Seger expressed disappointment with the transparency of the process that has occurred thus far with the project.
“You should consider the facts you hear today,” Seger said. “Black Range Minerals is not being held accountable, they have now established that they don’t care to follow what you have put into their conditions, nor do they have any respect for you or the citizens of Fremont County.”
Rick Van Leeuwen opposed permitting BRM to use CR 21 to transport rigs onto the site, saying the road is too narrow.
John Suleiman said he opposes the amendment; however, if it is passed, he requested the company be required to build fences around the mud pits that result from the drilling of exploration holes.
Virgil Burke said the contamination in his well has increased nearly three times since company began exploratory drilling.
Lee Alter said he believed the company should have to submit a separate permit request for the Hansen deposit because it is a “completely separate activity.”
“We have to take our time with something like this,” Jim Barton said. “I believe it is premature and irresponsible. There are far-reaching consequences to these decisions. When they’re made on short notice they’re wrong.”
Kay Hawklee said she opposes changes to the water monitoring plans that make them less restrictive.
Diane Taylor said 95 percent of the residents of the South T-Bar area support the permit, pointing out that water wells are drilled through the same rock formations, soils and aquifers as the exploration holes.
“You’re not going to stop contamination by stopping the mining,” she said. “I urge you to approve this.”
Haynes thanked everyone who made comments because the company appreciates feedback on its operations. He also addressed many of the concerns expressed by the public as did hydrologist Susan Wyman.
Fremont County commissioners on Tuesday put off making a decision on a proposal to expand uranium exploration so that they can get input from an independent water expert.
The commission heard more than three hours of testimony during a public hearing Tuesday which focused on Australia-based Black Range Minerals' request to expand exploration on an additional 2,220 acres of property known as the Hansen Deposit, which is believed to be the largest uranium deposit in the district, said Michael Haynes, Black Range managing director.
The commission voted to table the issue until its 10 a.m. Sept. 28 meeting to allow the county's independent hydrologist a chance to comment on the expansion.
Black Range initially received permission from the Fremont County Commission in June 2008 to resume Taylor Ranch area exploration after it had started in 2007 without a permit. The company is working to determine whether or not it would be economically viable to commercially mine for the ore by conducting exploratory drilling on about 5,000 acres of the 8,000-acre Taylor Ranch site in the Tallahassee Creek area off Colorado 9 west of Canon City.
Haynes said after drilling eight test holes and considering the current economic climate, he thinks it would not be viable to mine for uranium on the Taylor Ranch site, "right now." Additional, modern information is needed, he said.
Haynes said Black Range wishes to expand exploration to the south of the current site. He said the company would limit exploration to 800 drill holes as previously approved by the commission.
"We don't seek to do more work, just to cover a slightly larger area," Haynes said.
Of the 19 speakers who voiced opinions during the hearing, only two were in favor of the expansion. Of those who opposed it, concerns were voiced about high levels of uranium in domestic water wells to threats to wildlife and plummeting property values.
Virgil Burke said his well has, "Gone up to three times the allowable limit (for uranium) since they started drilling the first holes. It has cost me $5,000 to get the radiation down to where it is safe."
However, Black Range hydrologist Susan Wyman said there is not enough data to determine if there are any definite trends.
"There are elevated uranium contents in that area -- some have gone down, some have gone up, but it could be normal sample variability," Wyman said. "We have not seen a statistical increase in water (uranium) concentrations."
Opponents also said new monitoring wells were not drilled to get background data before exploration drilling resumed.
"Those wells were to be drilled to monitor for the health and safety of the residents and they were not drilled. Who was watching them instead of rubber stamping compliance forms," Nancy Seger, who opposed the proposal, asked.
Wyman said the monitoring wells were put on hold because Black Range was looking at an additional exploration area and it would be appropriate to locate some of those monitoring wells in the new exploration area, if approved.
Orion Metals (ASX: ORM) has acquired the Killi Killi Hills Prospect from Mount Resources, which consists of two West Australian tenements, EL 80/4029 and EL 80/4197.
The company said the prospect is near Northern Uranium's (ASX: NTU) Browns Range Heavy Rare Earth Element Project.
Total consideration is $55,000, which includes $30,000 in cash and the issue of 500,000 ORM ordinary shares at $0.05, with the possibility ORM will pay a 1% future royalty of the gross sales (capped at $100,000) to Mount.
Tenement E80/4029 covers 32.3 square kilometres over 10 blocks and tenement E80/4197 is 9.7 square kilometres over 3 blocks, for a total of 42 square kilometres.
The tenements are located on the Northern Territory border, approximately 10km north of the Halls Creek - Alice Springs road on the northern edge of the Tanami Desert, approximately 300km south-east of Halls Creek.
A field inspection was conducted in July as part of the due diligence and 45 rock chip samples were collected in the immediate area of the 2 radiometric anomalies previously identified, with the indicated uranium mineralisation confirmed by spectrometer.
Orion anticipates a complete set of lab results for each sample and a petrology report will be available within the next 7 days.
Exploration in 1969 confirmed low order uranium occurrences in a flat-dipping Upper Proterozoic basal conglomerate overlying Lower Proterozoic basement.
Limited analysis at the time indicated the presence of Rare Earth Elements (REE), particularly yttrium and the 'heavy' members of the REE suite.
In a 4-2 decision Wednesday, the Fremont County Planning Commission voted not to recommend approval of the expansion of Black Range Minerals’ exploration in the Tallahassee Creek area.
Joe Caruso and Herm Lateer voted for the recommendation. Mike Schnobrich was not present.
The company has applied to amend its 2008 conditional use permit to include an additional 2,210 acres of property south of CR 2 and west of CR 21 and 21A. The property is leased from various land owners.
Consideration of the application was tabled Aug. 3 after multiple citizens expressed concerns about the project.
Tuesday, additional citizens were permitted time to speak.
“It looks like a major change as opposed to a minor change,” said Nancy Seger.
Lee Alter expressed concerns about the number of changes in the application.
“This cannot be considered a simple amendment,” Alter said. “The only thing that’s similar is that it’s Black Range Minerals.”
Alter also expressed concerns about water quality in the area.
“Black Range’s own data shows contamination has increased,” he said.
Ben Vallerine, exploration manager-USA, Black Range Minerals, and hydrologist Susan Wyman responded.
“We are monitoring ground water,” Vallerine said despite the company not drilling monitoring wells.
“We’ve collected a significant amount of ground water data from domestic wells and surface water,” Wyman said. “Water varies a bit, within the range of natural variation.”
Wyman said a few of the wells naturally have elevated radiation levels because of the uranium in the surrounding rock.
“My ethics would not allow me to misstate what the data is saying,” she said.
“Right now, all they’re doing is drilling a hole,” Caruso said. “I see it to be done in a very responsible manner right now.”
Leslie Suleiman and Anita Minton each expressed concerns about statements that the domestic well testing could be called baselines because it was begun after initial testing began. Minton indicated that data from 1976 would be a true baseline.
Wyman said the company has the 1976 data and that it shows the current levels are within the natural range.
“As a scientist, I’m not seeing a difference,” Wyman said.
Vallerine said the area was first mined for uranium in the 1950s.
“We’re never going to get a baseline that’s satisfactory,” he said.
“I’m not sold on tests that have been done,” said Commissioner Tom Doxey.
Commissioner Byron Alsup also was not convinced about the issues of water contamination.
“I’m not discounting what’s going on up there,” Caruso said. “There are differences in how mining is done now than 50 years ago.”
Chairman Dean Sandoval said the company has done “an excellent job” presenting its application, however, he allowed the Master Plan to direct him in making his decision.
The application will go to the Fremont County Commissioners for a public hearing on Tuesday 14th September 2010. In 2008, the Planning Commission also voted against Black Range Minerals’ CUP and the county commissioners voted for it.
"Greenland's government Thursday partially changed a decades-old ban on uranium mining in one of its most significant acts since gaining limited autonomy from Denmark a year ago.
The move could open the icebound and sparsely populated country to exploration for uranium and rare earths and gives a nod to an Australian mining company to develop a mine plan for what the company says is the world's biggest undeveloped deposit of rare earths.
Months of intense debate within the country and negotiations with mining companies preceded the decision as the government sought to balance environmental concerns with the need for revenue to wean Greenland off Danish aid, a necessary step towards achieving full independence.
In its decision, Greenland's government amended the terms of its exploration licensing to allow for the exploration of radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium on a case-by-case basis, said Lars Emil Johansen, a former prime minister of Greenland who is chairman of Australian mining company Greenland Minerals & Energy Ltd.'s (GGG.AU) local subsidiary.
"We just got the information that the government has made a decision to change the uranium mining policy," he said. "It's not permission to start mining, but it is permission to make studies for mines with uranium. It's a very big step forward for the company."
Government officials were unavailable for comment. A press release in Greenlandic has been issued. The amendment is a reversal to the zero-tolerance policy that was instituted in the 1980s. The government is still conducting a full review of mining radioactive elements, which is expected to produce a broader decision on mining. The ban's removal brings immediate benefits to Greenland Minerals & Energy, which owns 61% of the uranium-rare earth deposit Kvanefjeld in southwest Greenland.
Under the ban, the company was unable to develop and mine the rare earths deposit because of its uranium content.
But concurrent with Thursday's decision, Greenland's government approved an updated exploration license for Greenland Minerals that will allow it to develop a mine plan for both rare earths and uranium at the Kvanefjeld deposit. The company will still need to obtain a license to mine the deposit after developing a mine plan. The Australian mining company said Kvanefjeld is the world's second-largest rare earths deposit and the sixth-largest uranium deposit. A pre-feasibility study estimates the mine can produce 43,729 metric tons of rare earths oxides and 3,895 tons of uranium a year during a 23-year lifespan.
Rare earths are a small group of metals that are almost all produced in China. Their increasing use in green technologies and military applications combined with China's monopoly of supply have prompted the European Union and the U.S. to declare them strategic metals.
If the company satisfies the government's health, safety and environmental requirements after a feasibility study, an exploitation license can be issued to build a mine, said Greenland Minerals & Energy Managing Director Rod Mcillree. The Kvanefjeld deposit has enough uranium alone to pay for the cost of the mine, with all revenue from rare earths marked as profit. The company said it would be the biggest rare earths mine outside of China.
Mcillree said the decision allows it to start a feasibility study in 2011 to develop a mine plan. Greenland Minerals & Energy's shares have been suspended from trading since Aug. 3 pending the talks with the government. Greenland's decision to open the country to uranium mining comes at the start of an exploration boom for minerals, oil and gas that has raised the hopes of resource companies but has sparked environmental concerns for Greenland's fragile Arctic ecosystem".
CIGAR LAKE - - Cameco, the world's second-largest uranium producer, is back to drilling at Cigar Lake after spending the past four years drying out the flooded underground development.
"We are underground and we are now continuing to do development of the underground workings, (and) we're excited about that," said Grant Goddard, vice-president of Cameco's Saskatchewan Mining North Cigar Lake Project, after leading media in an above-ground tour of the Cigar Lake mine.
Media was also led through the underground mine by chief mining engineer Scott Bishop, who showed and explained what happened in the 2008 flooding at the 420-metre level through separate water inflows.
That part of the mine will be shut down.
Cigar Lake, the world's largest undeveloped uranium deposit, flooded in October 2006 and again in August 2008. Full draining was completed in February 2010.
"We never forget the fact that we've had to deal with those challenges," said Goddard.
"We're ever-respectful of Mother Nature and the potential risk of an inflow so positioned this project to be successful."
He said that in the past four years, the company has been looking at how to deal with the flood and the inflow, and position the mine so it can be re-entered safely and securely to restart construction.
"We've installed additional pumping, both above ground and underground, to address various levels of water that come into the mine. Both regular water that we seep in, as well as any potential, however unlikely, risk of inflow."
Goddard said additional water treatment capacity, which is increased to about 2,500 metres cubed per hour, as well as other processes have been put in place to ensure that all the water that comes out of the mine is treated and released to the environment properly.
So far, $17 million has been spent on the project, including the flood cleanup.
The ore body at Cigar Lake is about 290 million pounds, with an average grade of 17 per cent, making it the second-richest grade in world.
This means that 17 per cent of the rock that is brought to surface is uranium, compared to other facilities in the world that have between 0.7 per cent and 1.7 per cent, said Goddard.
"We have a rich deposit. With our mining approach and the assurance of success (model) approach, we believe that the economics are sound and it's a really valuable piece of our portfolio," said Goddard.
When the project is in full production, it will have about 380 to 390 full-time employees and 50 to 55 contract support personnel.
The mine targets mid-2013 as the first year of production.
Southern Uranium has located new high-grade iron outcrops that further advance the iron ore prospects of the company’s Jungle Dam project on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia.
New prospecting, detailed magnetic surveying and a revised prospectivity model have upgraded the potential for shallow haematite as Direct Shipping Ore.
Rock chip samples assayed 55.5% to 59.6% iron from limited outcrops within 2km-long magnetic zone.
John Anderson, managing director, said Southern Uranium has revised its strategy at Jungle Dam to focus on the potential for higher grade and shallow haematite as DSO and plans to commence drilling of highpriority areas at the earliest opportunity.
The company’s objective is to determine whether an iron ore resource could be established to Inferred Category by early 2011.
“Our prospecting located new high-grade outcrops of iron formation assaying from 55% to nearly 60% iron within a large magnetic zone named Central West,” Anderson said.
“This significantly increases the prospectivity for shallow high-grade haematite at Jungle Dam."
“The new magnetic data maps the Central West Zone as a fold nose where the outcropping high iron grades and interpreted thicknesses indicate the original iron formation is structurally enhanced.”
“In contrast, our initial drilling along the less disrupted iron formation in the Central Zone to the east showed grades of 20 to 40% iron and horizontal widths of up to 45 metres. Importantly, that drilling demonstrated that a 70m thick weathered blanket of higher-grade haematite overlies the primary magnetite iron formation.”
The higher outcropping iron grades have refocussed Southern Uranium’s exploration on the Central West Zone and other similar magnetic zones showing structural complexity.
These areas have excellent potential for shallow high-grade haematite. Preliminary modelling of the new magnetic data at Central West indicates the weathered haematite blanket extends to 100m depth beneath the outcrops.
“Southern Uranium is preparing to do a detailed gravity survey over the Central West zone to better map the haematite-prospective areas,” Anderson said.
“This will assist the prioritisation of targets for the next round of drilling planned to start as soon as a drill contractor is secured.”
The Jungle Dam iron ore project is held 100% by Southern Uranium under Exploration Licence 3479 “Lake Gilles” on east Eyre Peninsula. Over 14km of prospective iron formation are delineated by magnetics to extend south of the Hercules iron ore resource held by another company.
The geological sequence is correlated with the Middleback iron formation at the OneSteel (ASX: OST) mining operations situated about 50km to the southeast of Jungle Dam.
Three new prospective and undrilled zones are interpreted to lie within the same structural corridor containing the Wilcherry Hill skarn magnetite deposits and Weednanna gold deposit held by another company to the northwest.
Australian -listed Uranium Explorer Extract Resources is aiming to start production at Rossing South, which would be the world’s second-largest uranium mine, in 2014, CEO Jonathan Leslie reported on Thursday.
The definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the Namibian project was likely to be delivered before the end of this year, with construction at the Rossing South project starting on the back-end of 2013.
The mine had the potential to deliver up to 15-million pounds of uranium a year, Leslie told delegates at the African Down under conference in Perth.
The project currently had an estimated indicated resource of 122,2-million tons at the zone-one deposit, with a further 118,8-million tons at the zone two deposit.
The project would cost an estimated $704-million to develop, and would have a life-of-mine of 20-years.
Meanwhile, work on the environmental-impact assessment (EIA) and management plan was proceeding on schedule and in parallel with the preparation of the mining Licence Application.
Along with the outcomes from the DFS, the EIA would be used to support the mining Licence Application, which would be made before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Leslie added that new uranium supply required to fill shortfalls from 2015 would precipitate higher uranium oxide (U3O8) prices.
“The U3O8 spot price has remained relatively flat in the past 12 months at between $40,50/lb to $54/lb,” Leslie said.
“However, current sentiment towards the spot price is for a strong rebound in uranium concentrate prices over a two-year horizon to satisfy the new growth in demand.”
He noted that spot prices of around $70/lb could be expected to provide uranium producers with the right incentive to develop new supplies bearing in mind that most off take contracts are based around long-term price trends, not the spot price.
“The spot price is indicative however and the weighted average already for 15 new projects due to come on line suggests a minimum spot price of $67 to $90 a pound a price range equivalent to between 7,5% and 15% of these projects’ projected internal rate of return.”