Boss Energy Limited's Honeymoon in-situ leach project in South Australia has produced its first drum of uranium in more than a decade, a major milestone in a commissioning process that will see production ramp up to 2.45 million pounds U3O8 (942 tU) per year. The company also expects first production soon at its Alta Mesa joint venture project in Texas, USA.

Honeymoon (Image: Boss)

Honeymoon first began operations in 2011 but was put on care-and-maintenance in 2013 by its then-owner Uranium One before being acquired by Boss in 2015. Boss's board approved a final investment decision to restart operations in June 2022, and major construction activities including wellfield development and the construction of a gypsum repository, water treatment and reverse osmosis plants were completed by October 2023, when wellfield pre-conditioning began. By the end of February, commissioning of the first ion exchange (IX) circuit in the processing plant had begun and operations were running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Processing the first drum of uranium is a major milestone," Boss Managing Director Duncan Craib said. "As well as marking the start of production and cashflow, it shows conclusively that our mining and processing strategy is highly effective. This is pivotal because it paves the way for strong organic production growth by unlocking the value of our large resource and leveraging the infrastructure we have in place. We have also made extensive provision in the Honeymoon plant for increased throughput."

Honeymoon is already exceeding feasibility study forecasts, with uranium-rich lixiviant from the wellfields and recoveries of loaded resin in the IX column producing concentrated high-grade eluate in excess of study estimates, the company said. Now the first drum of uranium has been successfully processed, Boss said it will accelerate plans to increase the production rate and mine life at Honeymoon. The current mine plan utilises 36 million pounds of the project's total 71.6 million pounds JORC-compliant resource, half of which is already covered by the existing mining licence. The company's Uranium Mineral Export Permission is for 3.3 million pounds U3O8 per year.

Alta Mesa progress

Boss also said that first production expected at Alta Mesa is expected "within weeks". The company completed its acquisition of a 30% stake in the project from enCore Energy Corp - which manages the joint venture - for USD60 million in February. Uranium production was curtailed at the project in 2013 due to low uranium prices.

The Alta Mesa central processing plant has a capacity of 1.5 million pounds of U3O8 per year. Boss said its share of production from Alta Mesa will be 500,000 pounds U3O8 per year, once the project reaches steady state operations, and the project has "significant potential for further resource growth and drying capacity to expand the 1.5Mlb capacity plant after the resumption of production".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Wednesday, 24 April 2024
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