Berkeley Nears Construction Start at Salamanca U3O8 Project • Dalradian Eyes Curraghinalt Mine Development in Northern Ireland
Berkeley Nears Construction Start at Salamanca U3O8 Project
Berkeley Energia has completed key land acquisitions that will accelerate development of its 100% owned Salamanca uranium project in western Spain. The more than 500 ha of acquired land provides space for initial infrastructure and start of construction of the processing plant in the first quarter of 2017. First production is now scheduled for 2018.
The Salamanca project will produce 4.4 million pounds per year (lb/y) of U3O8 in concentrates at cash costs of $15.39/lb, making it one of the world’s lowest-cost producers of uranium. Pre-production capital costs are estimated at $95.7 million. Initial mine life is planned at 14 years.
Salamanca ore will be surface-mined and processed by heap leaching using on-off leach pads, followed by uranium recovery and purification by solvent extraction, ammonium diuranate precipitation, and calcination. Each of the long, shallow orebodies will be mined by conventional drill, blast, excavator, and truck methods, progressively lining and backfilling mined areas with waste and treated ore as mining progresses along the length of the orebody.
The Salamanca project feasibility study was based on measured and indicated resources totaling 59.8 million lb of U3O8 and did not incorporate any inferred resources, which total 29.6 million lb of U3O8. Potential exists to extend mine life by converting these inferred resources to indicated resources with further drilling.
As of early December, Amec Foster Wheeler, which is carrying out the front-end engineering design for the Salamanca project, had made contractual enquiries for the key equipment for the crushing circuit, with the intention of completing purchase orders before the year end.
The Salamanca project is readily accessible by major roads and railways and is connected to the major sea port of Santander and to airports at Salamanca and Madrid. The project has major electrical power connections, plenty of water, and a strong demand for jobs in a region hit hard by unemployment. Training courses for future employees have been oversubscribed and enthusiastically attended. The area has previously experienced the economic benefits of mining, having supported Spain’s main uranium mining industry from the 1970s until the last mine closed in 2001.
Spain currently has seven nuclear reactors, which generate one-fifth of the nation’s electricity requirement. Production from the Salamanca mine will exceed Spain’s current domestic demand for uranium by 30%.
Dalradian Eyes Curraghinalt Mine Development in Northern Ireland
A feasibility study of Dalradian Resources’ high-grade, underground Curraghinalt gold project in Northern Ireland supports development of a mine producing 130,000 ounces per year (oz/y) of gold over its first 10 years of operation. Average total cash costs are estimated at $556/oz, and life-of-mine all-in sustaining cash costs are estimated at $674/oz. Initial capital cost to develop the project is estimated at $192 million, with payback in four years.
The Curraghinalt project is based on an orogenic gold system consisting of a series of moderately to steeply dipping, structurally controlled, high-grade gold bearing quartz-carbonate veins. The feasibility study is based of proven and probable reserves totaling 1.44 million oz of gold and 0.66 million oz of silver in 5.24 million metric tons (mt) grading 8.54 g/mt gold and 3.9 g/mt silver. The deposit remains open in all directions.
The mine will be accessed by an existing exploration adit and a new ramp to be developed adjacent to the proposed plant site. Annual ore production of up to 511,000 mt is planned from primary longitudinal long-hole retreat combined with some cut-and-fill mining methods, as well as from development along the veins.
Sublevels will be established at 18-m vertical intervals, with primary cross cuts spaced approximately 200 m apart to access the 16 mineralized veins in the deposit.
A recent test stoping program successfully demonstrated the long-hole mining method at vein dips ranging between 55° and 75°, with good control of dilution.
Curraghinalt ore will be processed using a crush, grind, flotation, and leach flowsheet to recover gold and silver into doré. Extensive metallurgical test work has shown that life-of-mine gold and silver recoveries of 94.3% and 57.9% can be expected at a coarse primary grind size of approximately 80% passing 240 μm.
The Curraghinalt project is located about 100 km west of Belfast and 60 km south of Derry/Londonderry, Northern
Ireland, both of which have port facilities. The site is accessible by major highways, with grid power and other services close by.
Dalradian President and CEO Patrick F.N. Anderson said, “The Curraghinalt feasibility study outlines a project with high expected profitability and demonstrates the strong economic case for advancing project development … We are particularly pleased that our test-mining showed the viability of mechanized underground mining methods for this deposit and returned consistently higher grades than those predicted by the resource model.”