Australia’s Paladin Energy has begun preparations in anticipation of a decision to put Namibia’s Langer Heinrich uranium mine (LHM) under care and maintenance.
"Given the continued deterioration of macro factors, including the stubbornly low spot uranium price but also factors such as foreign exchange rates and prices of processing reagents, it's becoming less likely that the company will be in a position to resume physical mining activity at [Langer Heinrich] in 2018, nor would processing low grade stockpiles be viable," the company said on 25 April.
Paladin went into administration in mid-2017 but recommenced trading on the Australian Securities Exchange in February, after a recapitalisation which saw Deutsche Bank become the company's biggest shareholder. The company's Kayelekera mine in northern Malawi has been under care and maintenance since 2014.
Paladin believes it should be in a position to make a formal decision on LHM within the next two months. Consultations with relevant stakeholders including government, customers, joint-venture partners and employee representatives, and other preparations including changes in certain supplier arrangements and staffing have already begun, the company said. Uranium production would cease one to two months after a decision is made.
Physical mining activities were reduced at Langer Heinrich at the end of 2016. LHM produced 3.4m lbs U3O8 (1308tU) in 2017 from the processing of stockpiled medium-grade ore. However, these stockpiles are expected to be exhausted by mid-2019. Any decision to restart physical mining, process low-grade stockpiles, or place the operation in care and maintenance must be made at least six months before the stockpiles become exhausted, Paladin said.
Photo: Langer Heinrich (Credit: Paladin Energy)