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Posts tagged ‘uranium’

Saskatchewan mining plans include drilling incentive, lithium extraction and rare earths processing

November 14th, 2019

by Greg Klein | November 14, 2019

It’s interesting enough now but the manifesto might make even more compelling reading 10 years from now. That’s the due date for no less than 30 lofty economic and social goals announced in Saskatchewan’s Growth Plan on November 14. Not surprising for a province where mining plays such an important role, the government intends to further encourage the industry. But the agenda goes well beyond Saskatchewan’s standbys of potash and uranium to call for the development of nuclear energy, lithium extraction technologies and “the first North American REE processing plant to deliver individual high-purity REEs.”

Saskatchewan mining plans include drilling incentive, lithium extraction and rare earths processing

Among the objectives already achieved is the renewed PST exemption on drilling. In a news release from the Saskatchewan Mining Association, Purepoint Uranium TSXV:PTU VP of exploration Scott Frostad describing drilling as “the lifeblood of a sustainable mining sector.

“All discoveries are made through drilling and the life of a mine is extended through drilling off additional reserves. Monies recovered through reinstatement of the PST exemption on drilling will be invested in more holes being drilled, which will increase the prospects of finding the next Saskatchewan mineral deposit or extending the life of an existing mine.” 

Exploration spending in the province’s north will surpass $200 million this year, the SMA stated. “Drilling costs represent almost half of a typical exploration budget. For every $1 spent on drilling, another $1.30 is spent on support activities such as geophysics, groceries, camp and air support, and professional services, with the majority of this spend with companies operating out of northern Saskatchewan.”

If the growth plan goes to plan, Saskatchewan will find another customer for its uranium. That would be Saskatchewan itself, which will work with New Brunswick and Ontario to generate electricity with small modular nuclear reactors. Combined with wind and solar, the province hopes to make up to 80% of its energy mix emissions-free. Saskatchewan currently generates most of its electricity from coal and natural gas.

The province also sees potential in strategic and critical metals, touting “world-class resources of both lithium and rare earth elements, which are extracted as part of oil and uranium production.”

The Saskatchewan Party government plans to consider partnerships with industry, universities and research institutes to develop lithium extraction, to work with miners to develop rare earths, “including production of high-value REE concentrate in Saskatchewan within the next two years,” and to host the continent’s first plant to process individual high-purity REEs.

[A rare earths processing plant] would be a first in Canada that would create jobs, increase exports and provide a significant opportunity for value-added manufacturing.—Government of Saskatchewan

“This would be a first in Canada that would create jobs, increase exports and provide a significant opportunity for value-added manufacturing,” the government stated.

The province also committed to streamline permitting and create a Geoscience Data Management System “to increase exploration efficiency, improve drilling and development outcomes, and make new discoveries.”

With Phase I pre-planning expected to finish this month, the project will “improve the province’s investment attractiveness for its mining and petroleum sectors by facilitating access to high-quality geoscience data and supporting the growing interest by industry in machine learning/artificial intelligence applications to guide natural resource exploration,” a government spokesperson told ResourceClips.com.

Among the plan’s 30 goals are increasing annual uranium sales to $2 billion and potash to $9 billion.

Ambitious infrastructure plans entail highway expansion and upgrades, a north-south rail line, and support for pipeline expansion and a national infrastructure corridor to enhance connections with the port of Vancouver and establish a link with the port of Churchill, Manitoba.

Last year mining contributed over $7 billion to Saskatchewan’s GDP, which reached an all-time high of $82.5 billion with the country’s third-highest growth rate. According to the SMA, the industry employs 30,000 people directly and indirectly, with a payroll of over $1.4 billion to direct employees, and is proportionally Saskatchewan’s largest private sector employer of indigenous workers. 

Read Mining for the future: Saskatchewan Research Council R&D fosters innovation and sustainability.

Belmont Resources expands its presence in B.C.’s Greenwood camp

October 30th, 2019

This story has been updated and moved here.

Study attributes thousands of deaths to over-cautious post-Fukushima nuclear shutdown

October 29th, 2019

by Greg Klein | October 29, 2019

A misguided response to Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi meltdown brought many more deaths than the accident itself, according to a new report. Published by the Germany-based IZA Institute of Labor Economics, the study says the resulting nationwide nuclear shutdown pushed electricity prices high enough to discourage consumption, causing a sharp increase in cold weather fatalities.

Study attributes thousands of Fukushima-related deaths to unnecessary nuclear shutdown

A 2015 emergency response drill at Fukushima Daiichi.
(Photo: Tokyo Electric Power Company)

The 2011 earthquake and tsunami killed three workers. The Fukushima Daiichi plant withstood the earthquake but not the tsunami, which caused the plant failure. So far no deaths have been attributed to radiation, but the report cites a previous forecast that about 130 people will die from 2011 exposure.

Looking at data from Japan’s 21 largest cities, the report’s authors attribute 1,280 deaths (19% of all cold weather fatalities) between 2011 and 2014 to decreased electricity consumption caused by price increases as high as 38%. With that data representing just 28% of the country’s population, the report estimates over 4,500 such deaths nationwide during that period. Additional deaths will have occurred since then due to the persistence of higher electricity prices, the study maintains. “This suggests that ceasing nuclear energy production has contributed to more deaths than the accident itself.”

Meanwhile evacuating the Fukushima region caused another 1,232 deaths, according to a Tokyo Shimbun newspaper report cited by IZA. The World Nuclear Association, an industry group, attributes the evacuation deaths to “somatic effects and spiritual fatigue brought on by having to reside in shelters,” the effects of moving fragile individuals, and delays receiving medical aid in the disaster’s aftermath.

Therefore, the total welfare effects from ceasing nuclear production in Japan are likely to be even larger than what we estimate, and represent a fruitful line for future research.

Up to 2011, nuclear provided 30% of Japan’s electricity. During the four years under scrutiny by IZA, the country’s reliance on fossil fuel-generated electricity rose from 62% to 88%, partly by ramping up production from “old, often idle coal, gas and oil-fired power generators.”

American studies show nuclear shutdowns following the 1979 Three Mile Island accident “led to increased particle pollution and higher infant mortality,” the study adds. “Therefore, the total welfare effects from ceasing nuclear production in Japan are likely to be even larger than what we estimate, and represent a fruitful line for future research.”

Authors Matthew Neidell, Shinsuke Uchida and Marcella Veronesi say their study “is not the result of a for-pay consulting relationship. Our employers do not have a financial interest in the topic of the paper which might constitute a conflict of interest.”

IZA describes itself as an “independent economic research institute that conducts research in labour economics and offers evidence-based policy advice on labour market issues.”

Download Be Cautious with the Precautionary Principle: Evidence from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident.

International Montoro Resources moves into Ontario’s Red Lake camp

October 23rd, 2019

by Greg Klein | October 23, 2019

A new acquisition brings another player into a busy northwestern Ontario mining and exploration region. Under an agreement announced October 23, International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT can earn a 51% interest in the 2,250-hectare Camping Lake property on the Birch-Uchi-Confederation Lakes greenstone belt, home to the Red Lake gold deposits and Great Bear Resources’ (TSXV:GBR) attention-grabbing Dixie Lake property 20 kilometres north.

International Montoro Resources moves into Ontario’s Red Lake camp

Previous work at Camping Lake includes petrographic studies, rock, soil and lake sediment samples, IP and ground geophysics, as well as drilling. Conducted between 2010 and 2013, the work was carried out by Laurentian Goldfields, Kinross Gold TSX:K and AngloGold Ashanti NYSE:AU. Montoro plans an immediate compilation of exploration data prior to its own program.

Under the JV agreement with Falcon Gold TSXV:FG, Montoro would issue 1.5 million shares over one year and assume Falcon’s payments of $65,000 over four years. Montoro’s exploration commitments would call for $100,000 within one year and another $200,000 over the second year. On earning the initial 51%, Montoro could up its stake to 75% by paying $500,000. A 2% NSR applies.

In Ontario’s Elliot Lake district, Montoro has found nickel-copper-PGE potential in addition to historic uranium and rare earths mineralization on the company’s Serpent River project. Last month Montoro engaged Mira Geoscience to undertake an extensive study of the company’s drilling and geophysics data, along with previous work on or around the property by other companies and regional programs by the Ontario Geological Survey.

In central British Columbia’s Cariboo region, Montoro holds a 2,138-hectare property bordering Defense Metals’ TSXV:DEFN Wicheeda rare earths project.

In southern Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, Montoro holds the Duhamel titanium-vanadium-chromium prospect. The company’s portfolio also includes two northern Saskatchewan uranium properties held 50/50 with Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA.

Earlier this month Montoro closed a private placement first tranche of $47,500.

Read more about International Montoro Resources.

Read more about Ontario’s Red Lake camp.

Belmont Resources announces B.C. gold-silver-cobalt samples, appoints Greenwood veteran to BOD

October 17th, 2019

by Greg Klein | October 17, 2019

Recent surface sampling at southern British Columbia’s Greenwood camp brought further encouragement to Belmont Resources’ (TSXV:BEA) Pathfinder project. The field program follows a summer campaign that yielded samples grading up to 29.2 g/t gold, as well as silver, copper and lead, from the historic mining region. The current batch shows anomalous cobalt as well:

  • 4.999 ppm gold, 35.86 ppm silver, 20700 ppm copper, 45.1 ppm cobalt
Belmont Resources announces BC gold-silver-cobalt samples, appoints Greenwood veteran to BOD

  • 0.153 ppm gold, 6.46 ppm silver, 6234 ppm copper, 148.8 ppm cobalt

  • 1.329 ppm gold, 14.07 ppm silver, 6540 ppm copper, 1486.8 ppm cobalt

  • 4.374 ppm gold, 19.5 ppm silver, 6667 ppm copper, 31.7 ppm cobalt

  • 2.172 ppm gold, 14.31 ppm silver, 6551 ppm copper, 931.6 ppm cobalt

  • 5.228 ppm gold, 17.39 ppm silver, 7302 ppm copper, 47.9 ppm cobalt

Further plans call for an airborne VTEM survey to identify drill targets. Three sides of the 296-hectare project border claims held by Kinross Gold TSX:K subsidiary KG Exploration.

Belmont also announced George Sookochoff’s appointment as director. Coming from a southern B.C. mining family, Sookochoff has served as president of GGX Gold TSXV:GGX and executive VP of Golden Dawn Minerals TSXV:GOM, two other companies active in the Greenwood camp. He’s also served as president/CEO of International PBX Ventures, now Chilean Metals TSXV:CMX, which holds copper and gold projects in Chile.

“Throughout my long career in the junior mining sector and having worked on numerous exploration projects around the world, it has always been my strong belief that the Greenwood mining camp, with its rich history in mining, still remains to be one of the best exploration areas in the world,” Sookochoff commented.

In Nevada Belmont holds a 75% interest in the Kibby Basin lithium project, where drill results have graded up to 393 ppm lithium over 42.4 metres and 415 ppm over 30.5 metres.

The company’s portfolio also includes two northern Saskatchewan uranium properties shared 50/50 with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT.

Last month Belmont offered a private placement of up to $510,000. The company closed a $252,000 placement in June and arranged two loans totalling $50,000 in August.

Asian demand and climate concerns suggest a growing market for uranium, the World Nuclear Association finds

October 15th, 2019

…Read more

International Montoro Resources employs high-tech analysis of Elliot Lake-region nickel-copper prospect

September 10th, 2019

by Greg Klein | September 10, 2019

A geophysical analysis on the property released last March found targets described as “good candidates for semi-massive nickel-copper mineralization.” Now International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT has contracted Mira Geoscience to compile and analyze a much larger data set for the Pecors Lake project, part of the 1,840-hectare Serpent River property in Ontario’s Elliot Lake district.

International Montoro Resources employs high-tech analysis of Elliot Lake-region nickel-copper prospect

Nickel-copper potential brings new interest to
International Montoro Resources’ Serpent River property.

Historic drilling on Serpent’s southwestern area found uranium-rare earths mineralization. But extensive geophysical programs completed last year alerted Montoro to nickel-copper-PGE potential as well. A 3D model revealed that three assumed magnetic anomalies at Pecors actually comprise one contiguous anomaly estimated to be five kilometres long, two kilometres wide and two kilometres deep.

Considered pioneers of advanced geological and geophysical 3D and 4D modelling, Mira Geoscience will enter a library of data into its Geoscience Analyst 3D interactive platform. Included will be Ontario Geological Survey geochem and petrographic studies; OGSEarth data from drilling conducted by Teck Resources TSX:TECK.A/TSX:TECK.B, Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO, BHP Billiton NYSE:BHPand others on or near the property; federal government regional gravity and magnetic surveys; Montoro’s 22 drill holes; and downhole EM data for two holes reaching depths of one and 1.3 kilometres respectively.

In central British Columbia, Montoro had a 43-101 technical study completed in April for its recently acquired Wicheeda North property, adjacent to the Wicheeda rare earths deposit currently being drilled by Defense Metals TSXV:DEFN under option from Spectrum Mining. The report states that Wicheeda North “has the potential to host, and should continue to be explored for, rare earth element mineralization because it occurs within a favourable geological belt known to contain carbonatite-hosted REE mineralization.”

A 3D magnetic inversion was completed in June for the property, which Montoro has expanded to 2,138 hectares.

The company’s portfolio also includes the 2,300-hectare Duhamel property in central Quebec, considered prospective for nickel-copper-cobalt, as well as titanium-vanadium-chromium.

Along with Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA, Montoro shares 50/50 ownership of two uranium properties in northern Saskatchewan’s Uranium City area.

Last month Montoro closed a private placement first tranche of $47,500.

Uranium: A 2040 prognosis

September 5th, 2019

Growing energy needs, emissions reduction look positive for the other yellow metal

by Greg Klein

Oversupplied and under-priced for years, uranium’s forecast now looks good up to 2040, according to a new study. In its latest Nuclear Fuel Report, a study released at roughly two-year intervals, the World Nuclear Association has revised its projections upwards for the first time in eight years. Demand will come from a growing reliance on nuclear energy thanks mainly to China, India and other Asian countries, said the industry organization. Global warming concerns also play a role.

Growing energy needs, emissions reduction look positive for the other yellow metal

The report presents different data for each of three case studies, explained World Nuclear News, a WNA publication. The Reference scenario reflects official targets and plans announced by states and companies, and also considers how nuclear can help address climate change. The Upper scenario anticipates more favourable economics, greater public acceptance and increased dependency to offset climate change. The Lower scenario considers the possibility of negative public sentiment, a lack of political support and more challenging economics.

Even at the Lower scenario, the study foresees nuclear capacity remaining at its current level of 402 gigawatt electrical to 2040. The Reference scenario sees moderate growth to 569 GWe, while the Upper scenario predicts capacity almost doubling to 776 GWe.

The Upper and Reference scenarios show faster growth than at any time since 1990.

Even greater expansion would be required should countries adopt the WNA’s Harmony climate change strategy, which calls for nuclear to supply 25% of the world’s electricity by 2050.

The need for new primary uranium supply becomes even more pressing as a number of older mines are projected to be depleted in the second decade.—World Nuclear Association

The three scenarios “show that the capacity of all presently known mining projects (current and idled mines, projects under development, planned or prospective) should be at least doubled by the end of the forecast period, and the need for new primary uranium supply becomes even more pressing as a number of older mines are projected to be depleted in the second decade,” the WNA emphasized. 

“There are more than adequate uranium resources to meet future needs. However, oversupply and associated low uranium prices are preventing the investment needed to convert these resources into production. Uranium resources would be unlikely to be a limiting factor for the expansion of nuclear programs in order to meet the Harmony goal.”

As for uranium production, the report sees “fairly stable” volume until the late 2020s, but a sharp decrease from 2035 to 2040 “as a quarter of all mines listed in the model reach the end of their production lives,” the WNN stated. “Global output of 66,400 tonnes uranium in 2030 declines to 48,100 tU under the Reference scenario. For the Upper scenario the figures are 71,500 tU (2030) and 49,400 tU (2040). The partial return of currently idled mines to production is expected to begin in 2023 in the Reference case, 2022 in the Upper scenario and 2026 in the Lower scenario.”

In addition to Asia’s growing nuclear reliance, the report bases its positive forecasts on improved government sentiment in France, and in the U.S. at the federal and state level. Countries like Bangladesh, Egypt and Turkey will become significant producers of nuclear energy.

In our models, we don’t get excited on the demand side.—Kazatomprom CEO
Galymzhan Pirmatov,
as quoted by Bloomberg

The study crunched data from questionnaires sent to WNA members and non-members, publicly available info and “the judgement and experience of the members of the association’s working group.” Among the considerations were nuclear economics, government policies, public acceptance, climate change, electricity market structure and regulatory standards.

Co-chairing the working group was Riaz Rizvi, chief strategy and marketing officer for Kazatomprom, the world’s top uranium miner. But the positive forecasts seem to contradict his boss. Last June Bloomberg quoted CEO Galymzhan Pirmatovas saying, “In our models, we don’t get excited on the demand side.”

Using data from other sources, Cameco Corp TSX:CCO estimated an August 31 U3O8 spot price of $25.30 per pound and long-term price of $31.00, down from $26.30 spot and $31.25 long-term a year earlier. The company gives numbers of $60.50 spot and $70.00 long-term for March 1, 2011, 10 days before a tsunami hit Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi complex. As Japan shut down other reactors one by one, followed by a few other countries like Germany, the mining industry faced oversupply. Uranium prices fell steadily, sometimes dramatically.

Make no mistake, there is still a long way to go before we decide to restart McArthur River-Key Lake.—Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel

By January 2018 Cameco suspended its McArthur River mining and Key Lake milling operations, despite having put Cigar Lake into production less than four years earlier. Expressing cautious optimism last July, CEO Tim Gitzel added: “However, make no mistake, there is still a long way to go before we decide to restart McArthur River-Key Lake.”

But without them, Cameco has become more buyer than producer. To meet 2019 supply commitments, the company anticipates purchasing 21 million to 23 million pounds from other sources. That compares with an estimated nine million pounds expected from Cigar Lake this year.

Belmont Resources moves into Ontario’s Red Lake camp with zinc-polymetallic acquisition

September 4th, 2019

by Greg Klein | September 4, 2019

A newly signed option opens a substantial land package with historic deposits for further exploration. Under the agreement, Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA takes a substantial interest in part of Pistol Bay Mining’s (TSXV:PST) Confederation Lake greenstone belt portfolio.

The Fredart/Gerry Lake and adjoining claim groups sit about 25 kilometres northeast of Great Bear Resources’ (TSXV:GBR) Dixie property and adjacent to Pistol Bay’s Garnet Lake claims in an increasingly busy camp where Great Bear’s drill results have attracted other explorers.

Belmont Resources moves into Ontario’s Red Lake camp with zinc-polymetallic acquisition

The Arrow zone on Pistol Bay’s Garnet Lake hosts a 2017 43-101 inferred resource using a 3% zinc-equivalent cutoff to show 2.1 million tonnes averaging 5.78% zinc, 0.72% copper, 19.5 g/t silver and 0.6 g/t gold. “The geological setting of the Fredart and associated claims is similar to the Garnet Lake claims area,” Belmont and Pistol Bay stated.

Belmont’s acquisition comprises about 6,700 hectares over a 17-kilometre stretch of the greenstone belt. A 2017 VTEM-Plus survey found granitic intrusions in the northeast part of the Fredart area and two or possibly three parallel conductive responses over parts of the Fredart-Gerry Lake trend.

Extensive past work includes 124 drill holes totaling 22,500 metres between 1956 and 2003 on the Fredart zone. Data has yet to be compiled for additional drilling on the Fredart trend’s western extension and the Joy-Caravelle area.

The Fredart zone, also known as Copperlode A, has an historic, non-43-101 estimate showing 385,000 tonnes averaging 1.56% copper and 33.6 g/t silver. The companies describe the property’s mineralization as volcanogenic massive sulphide dominated by zinc, copper and silver, with occasional associated gold values.

The acquisition’s Joy-Caravelle area has historic, non-43-101 drill results that include 21.6% zinc and 0.13% copper over 0.25 metres, 17.17% zinc and 0.28% copper over 0.6 metres, as well as 4.01% copper over 3.55 metres.

Infrastructure includes all-weather roads, a transmission line crossing the property, water and nearby natural gas.

Belmont may earn an initial 65% of the claims for $40,000 and 1.5 million shares on TSXV approval, another $50,000 and 1.5 million shares within one year and an additional $50,000 and one million shares in the second year.

An additional 10% interest would cost $200,000, after which the two companies would form a JV. Two third parties each hold a 2% NSR on separate parts of the claims, with one NSR also including a $10,000 annual advance royalty payment.

Looking at another recent acquisition in another busy mining camp, last month Belmont announced an upcoming field program for its Pathfinder project in southern British Columbia’s Greenwood district. Surface sampling results released in July showed assays up to 29.2 g/t gold, 16.4 g/t silver, 365 ppm copper and 4 ppm lead.

Belmont’s portfolio also includes a 75% stake in Nevada’s Kibby Basin lithium project, where drilling has found 393 ppm lithium over 42.4 metres and 415 ppm over 30.5 metres.

Additionally, Belmont shares 50/50 ownership with International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT on two northern Saskatchewan uranium properties.

Belmont closed a private placement of $252,000 in June and arranged two loans totalling $50,000 in August.

Lower cost, higher grade

August 30th, 2019

Denison Mines considers the Athabasca Basin’s first ISR uranium operation

by Greg Klein

Less than 80 kilometres from the technological marvel of Cigar Lake, another uranium project could introduce an extraction method that’s less innovative but a regional novelty just the same. Denison Mines TSX:DML now has testing underway for in-situ recovery at the Wheeler River project’s Phoenix deposit. Should the studies succeed and the mine become a reality, this would be ISR’s first application in Canadian uranium mining.

Denison Mines considers the Athabasca Basin’s first ISR uranium operation

Denison Mines hopes to apply low-cost extraction
to high-grade resources. (Photo: Denison Mines)

ISR finds common use in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, the U.S., Australia and enough other countries to account for 48% of global uranium production in 2016, according to the World Nuclear Association. The lower-cost method has often been associated with lower-grade deposits that have geological conditions making the process viable. With a Phoenix probable reserve averaging 19.1%, Denison was able to consider other options. In fact the company originally planned to use Cigar Lake’s jet-boring technique.

But the experience of Cameco Corp TSX:CCO proved to be a cautionary tale. “Among 
the most technically challenging mining projects in the world” according to the company, Cigar Lake took nine years to build, with setbacks that included two serious floods. Finally opened in 2014, its jet-boring extraction makes the very high-grade operation “one of the technically most sophisticated mines in the world.”

Two years later, when Wheeler River reached PEA, Denison was still considering jet-boring for Phoenix. But capex, opex, length of construction and technical risks similar to Cigar Lake’s “catastrophic events” persuaded the company to pursue other options.

That Denison did, examining some 32 extraction techniques over two years before selecting ISR for Phoenix in the pre-feasibility study released last October. Wheeler’s Gryphon deposit, about three kilometres northwest, has more conventional underground mining proposed.

Both deposits are classified as Athabasca Basin unconformity-related. But Gryphon features basement-hosted mineralization while Phoenix mineralization is unconformity-hosted and also shows ISR potential.

Denison Mines considers the Athabasca Basin’s first ISR uranium operation

With its current drill program, Denison hopes to find
potential satellite ISR deposits. (Photo: Denison Mines)

Put simply, the process involves drilling wells into the deposit, injecting a liquid solution that leaches uranium from ore, then pumping the uranium-bearing liquid to a surface processing facility. No tailings or waste rock come to surface. The solution then gets recharged with fresh reagents for re-use in a closed system.

ISR, also known as ISL or in-situ leaching, can be used for copper and other minerals as well.

However Phoenix differs from many ISR projects by the permeability of the deposit’s sandstone walls, which will require freezing to contain the solution. Ground freezing involves pumping very cold brine into holes outside the deposit’s circumference to extract heat from the surrounding rock. Cigar Lake also uses underground freezing to contain the jet-boring process. One advantage of Phoenix over other ISR projects, however, is the relatively compact size of the high-grade deposit, about one kilometre by 50 metres.

Should geology, engineering, permitting and financing come together, Phoenix would take only about two and a half years to build, according to the PEA. With an estimated 11-year lifespan, production would average six million pounds U3O8 annually for nine of those years.

Hinting at satanic numerology, Gryphon would spend six years in construction and another six in operation, producing six million pounds a year. Processing would take place at the McClean Lake mill, now chewing through Cigar Lake ore. Denison holds 22.5% of the mill, along with Orano Canada (70%) and OURD Canada (7.5%).

As for Wheeler River ownership, Denison maintains a 90% stake, with JCU Canada holding the rest.

Denison Mines considers the Athabasca Basin’s first ISR uranium operation

With a deposit lying below Patterson Lake South,
Fission Uranium now has second thoughts
about open pit mining. (Photo: Fission Uranium)

Denison has further ISR tests now underway, part of the project’s feasibility studies. With work conducted by Petrotek Engineering Corp, the program has so far sunk two pump/injection wells and four observation wells along a 34-metre portion of the deposit’s strike. This week president/CEO David Cates described early results as encouraging, “with initial pump and injection tests confirming hydraulic connectivity between all of the test wells within the ore zone.”

The tests also suggest the basement rock beneath the unconformity would contain the solution, unlike the sandstone walls which would require freezing.

Three more test areas will be evaluated up to summer 2020 to compile a hydro-geological model to simulate ground water flow and other factors. The current campaign also includes environmental baseline studies and a 10-hole, 5,000-metre drill program searching for potential satellite ISR operations along the project’s K West trend.

While Wheeler River holds the largest undeveloped deposits in the eastern Basin, the Patterson corridor extending beyond the Basin’s southwestern rim claims fame for two even larger projects.

A pre-feas released by Fission Uranium TSX:FCU in May for Patterson Lake South’s Triple R deposit examined a hybrid open pit and underground mine, but the company was quick to reconsider. An alternative pre-feas began in July to evaluate an underground-only operation. The May pre-feas foresaw four years of construction, six years of open pit operation and two years of underground operation to produce 87.5 million pounds U3O8 over the eight-year span.

The company hopes its new pre-feas, expected in September, will find “further-improved economics, even lower capex and a reduced construction time.” Permitting might also have been a concern, however, for open pit mining on a uranium deposit currently underneath a lake. With the new report using the same resource estimate, Fission plans to compare both scenarios before moving on to feasibility.

Another basement-hosted deposit, NexGen Energy’s (TSX:NXE) Arrow deposit on the Rook 1 project reached pre-feas in December. The proposed underground mine would begin production during the second year of development, ultimately producing 228.4 million pounds U3O8 over a nine-year life, enough to give the company an estimated 21% of global output, just behind first-place Kazatomprom’s 22%, NexGen says.

The company plans full feasibility for Arrow in H1 next year.