Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has initiated an A$57-million prefeasibility study of the potential Ranger 3 Deeps underground mine at its Ranger uranium operations 260 km east of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory. The study is scheduled to run from 2012 until 2014.
The Ranger 3 Deeps orebody is located adjacent to ERA’s Pit 3, which is nearing the end of its operating life. Stockpile mining will be the mill’s sole source of feed from 2013 onward. Potential underground mining is tentatively forecast to begin in 2015.
The Ranger 3 Deeps orebody hosts an estimated resource of 34,000 mt of contained uranium oxide. The prefeasibility study will evaluate and confirm the scope for a possible underground mine. The study will include 16,000 m of drilling for resource definition in addition to the 35,000 m of drilling previously approved as part of the Ranger 3 Deeps exploration decline project, extension of the decline, and the installation of a ventilation shaft.
ERA started excavating the box cut for its A$120-million Ranger 3 Deeps exploration decline project on May 1, 2012. Decline tunnel construction is scheduled to begin in November. The decline will allow close-spaced underground exploration drilling to further define the Ranger 3 Deeps orebody, as well as areas adjacent to the resource.
ERA expects to make a decision on the viability of the development of an operational Ranger 3 Deeps mine in late 2014.
ERA is also conducting an extensive surface drilling program on prospective and under-explored areas of the Ranger project area from 2012 to 2014 at an estimated cost of A$40 million.