Australia’s Bannerman Resources Ltd has completed its Etango uranium heap leach demonstration plant project in Namibia, the company said on 2 February. It has begun work to incorporate its findings into the project's definitive feasibility study (DFS), which it completed, along with an environmental and social impact statement in 2012. Both confirmed the technical, economic and environmental viability of the project, which has received environmental approval from the Namibian Ministry of Mines, at "historic" uranium prices.
Bannerman said it has since carried out further studies to optimise the DFS, focusing on enhancements from optimised mining methods and design, which "substantially" improved the economics of the project. Now the demonstration plant testwork provides the opportunity to review the processing flowsheet. The heap leach demonstration plant project, launched in 2014, involved a phased programme of tests to demonstrate or simulate the heap leaching and solution recycling aspects of the processing route, validating assumptions made in the DFS. The project also sought to optimise process parameters by incorporating lessons learned in the earlier phases. In 2016, Bannerman embarked on a sixth phase, to further optimise particle size distribution and establish optimal binder addition, which was completed in January.
Bannerman is conducting the DFS update in conjunction with consultants Amec Foster Wheeler. Based on the DFS, production is expected to be 7-9m lbs U3O8 a year (2,690-3,460 tU) for the first five years and then 6-8m lbs U3O8 a year over a minimum mine life of 16 years. The project has measured and indicated resources of 57,330 tU at ore grades of up to 0.019%, with inferred resources of 24,630 tU up to 0.16%. Etango is in Namibia's Erongo uranium mining region, which hosts the operating Rössing and Husab mines.