Kamis, 07 Mei 2015

Asia’s $800 Billion Nuclear Splurge to Unlock Uranium Motherlode...????.....>>>The value of uranium plunged in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Now, with contract prices forecast to jump more than 60 percent, suppliers in Australia are planning about half a dozen new mines. “Australia is very well placed,” said Brian Reilly, managing director of Canadian miner Cameco Corp.’s local unit, in a telephone interview. “China and India will be very significant customers down the track.”...>>China will need the equivalent of about 1,000 nuclear reactors, 500,000 wind turbines or 50,000 solar farms as it steps up its fight against climate change. The country in March approved construction of its first nuclear power project since Fukushima brought the program to a standstill....?? >>......Exports from Australia are forecast to rise at an average annual rate of 8 percent, according to government estimates. The country supplies about 11 percent of global output and has about 31 percent of the world’s reserves. The expansion of new mines in Australia has been dogged in the past by government prohibitions and opposition from environmentalists. The Labor Party dropped its more than two-decade long ban on new uranium mines in 2007, while leaving state governments with the power to reject mining proposals.


Asia’s $800 Billion Nuclear Splurge to Unlock Uranium Motherlode

A nuclear-power boom in Asia that’s set to drive up uranium prices is triggering a resurgence in mining in Australia, home to the world’s largest reserves.

Almost $800 billion of new reactors are under development in the region, driven by China and India where demand is climbing for the emission-free energy.

The value of uranium plunged in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Now, with contract prices forecast to jump more than 60 percent, suppliers in Australia are planning about half a dozen new mines.
“Australia is very well placed,” said Brian Reilly, managing director of Canadian miner Cameco Corp.’s local unit, in a telephone interview. “China and India will be very significant customers down the track.”

The mines on the drawing board in Australia, which holds a third of the world’s known uranium reserves, include the Kintyre project, a joint venture between Cameco and Mitsubishi Corp., that won government approval last month.

China will need the equivalent of about 1,000 nuclear reactors, 500,000 wind turbines or 50,000 solar farms as it steps up its fight against climate change. The country in March approved construction of its first nuclear power project since Fukushima brought the program to a standstill.

Global Warming

India also views its push for new power plants as part of its effort to curb global warming. Cameco agreed last month to sell uranium from its Canadian mines to India.
Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott last year signed an agreement with India that opens the door for uranium sales and may help producers such as BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group-controlled Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. Similar accords were signed last decade with China and Russia.
Toro Energy Ltd. expects production at its Wiluna mine to start in 2017 or 2018, Chief Executive Officer Vanessa Guthrie said in an a phone interview. The company has been seeking to bring in an Asian partner and “in the last few months, the interest in Wiluna in particular, and in the uranium market in general, has really started to increase,” she said.
Cameco’s Yeelirrie mine and the Vimy Resources Ltd.-led Mulga Rock project are also planned in Western Australia, which lifted a ban on uranium mining in 2008. Exports from the four projects could exceed A$1 billion ($790 million) a year by the end of the decade if prices recover, the state government estimated.

Exports Forecast

Exports from Australia are forecast to rise at an average annual rate of 8 percent, according to government estimates. The country supplies about 11 percent of global output and has about 31 percent of the world’s reserves.

The expansion of new mines in Australia has been dogged in the past by government prohibitions and opposition from environmentalists. The Labor Party dropped its more than two-decade long ban on new uranium mines in 2007, while leaving state governments with the power to reject mining proposals.

While the nuclear-power boom in China and India bodes well, the industry faces headwinds in the form of bulging inventories as the planned mines in Australia wait for higher prices to kick in.

Both Cameco, which says price uncertainty makes it too hard to estimate when Kintyre will begin, and Toro need long-term contract prices to jump more than 35 percent from current levels of about $50 a pound to make their projects viable. Contract prices are forecast to rise to about $80 a pound in 2020, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.

“When the market turns, we’ve seen this historically, it will typically turn quickly and sharply, and we need to be ready,” said Cameco’s Reilly.

Asia's projected $781 billion nuclear energy investment needs continuing international cooperation

World Nuclear Association Press Release: 15 January 2015 
Continuing the strong cooperation between Chinese and international nuclear companies will ensure that China can play its part in the global nuclear supply chain. 
WNA Director General Agneta Rising said:

"We must build on the international partnerships forged in developing China's nuclear generation programme so that China can play its part in delivering the global expansion of clean and reliable nuclear energy the world so clearly needs."

Ms Rising was speaking at World Nuclear Spotlight 2015 conference, taking place in Beijing, China on 15 January 2015.

The potential market for the global nuclear supply chain is set out in The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2030 report, which is launched today by the World Nuclear Association
The report's findings including:

1. Under a reference scenario that envisages the start-up of 266 new reactors, an investment of some $1.2 trillion would be required by 2030.
2. Taking into account nuclear power plant construction and refurbishment projects for long-term operation the international market for suppliers could be worth $30 billion per year.
3. The largest region of growth will be Asia - primarily China - where 47 reactors are currently under construction and a further 142 are forecast by 2030. Investment in nuclear projects in Asia could reach $781 billion over the period.
Press copies of The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2030 are available on request from the media contacts listed below.

Media Contacts
Jonathan Cobb: +44(0)20 7451 1536
David Hess: +44(0)20 7451 1543

China Climate Pledge Needs 1,000 Nuclear Plant Effort

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Steam rises from cooling towers at the Junliangcheng power station in Tianjin, China. In his agreement last week with President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping committed to cap carbon emissions by 2030 and turn to renewable sources for 20 percent of the country’s energy. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Nov. 21 (Bloomberg) -- China, which does nothing in small doses, will need about 1,000 nuclear reactors, 500,000 wind turbines or 50,000 solar farms as it takes up the fight against climate change. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping agreement last week with President Barack Obama requires a radical environmental and economic makeover. Xi’s commitment to cap carbon emissions by 2030 and turn to renewable sources for 20 percent of the country’s energy comes with a price tag of $2 trillion. 

The pledge would require China to produce either 67 times more nuclear energy than the country is forecast to have at the end of 2014, 30 times more solar or nine times more wind power. That almost equals the non-fossil fuel energy of the entire U.S. generating capacity today. China’s program holds the potential of producing vast riches for nuclear, solar and wind companies that get in on the action. 

“China is in the midst of a period of transition, and that calls for a revolution in energy production and consumption, which will to a large extent depend on new energy,” Liang Zhipeng, deputy director of the new energy and renewable energy department under the National Energy Administration, said at a conference in Wuxi outside of Shanghai this month. “Our environment is facing pressure and we must develop clean energy.”

‘Run its Course’

By last year, China had already become the world’s largest producer of wind and solar power. Now, with an emerging middle class increasingly outspoken about living in sooty cities reminiscent of Europe’s industrial revolution, China is looking at radical changes in how its economy operates.
“China knows that their model, which has done very well up until recent times, has run its course and needs to shift, and they have been talking about this at the highest levels,” said Paul Joffe, senior foreign policy counsel at the Washington, D.C.-based World Resources Institute.
Meeting the challenge is anything but assured. China has already run into difficulty managing its renewables. About 11 percent of wind capacity sat unused last year because of grid constraints, with the rate rising to more than 20 percent in the northern provinces of Jilin and Gansu, according to the China Renewable Energy Engineering Institute.

‘Chinese Dream’

With its huge population, China is a country accustomed to eye-popping goals. Some have worked, such as the rapid growth and poverty reduction from the market reforms of the past two decades. Others, though, have exposed central planning run amok, such as Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward in the 1950s to collectivization and industrialization. 

Xi sees no alternative to going big. “Letting children live in a good ecological environment is a very important part of the Chinese dream,” he said last week as he welcomed Asian leaders to a summit in Beijing. His words aren’t just lip service -- pressure is building.

Pollution Protests

Protests over pollution at least three times this summer turned violent in Chinese cities. In Hangzhou, in the eastern part of the country, rioters overturned cars and set fire to police vehicles in May because of plans to build a waste incinerator near a residential neighborhood. 

In the weeks leading up to last week’s APEC summit, China closed factories and limited traffic in Beijing so the air wouldn’t be offensive to visiting dignitaries. In the capital, 141 enterprises were asked to cut production from Nov. 3 to Nov. 11, according to the Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. Xinhua News Agency said limits were placed on 3,900 plants in Hebei province and 1,953 firms in Tianjin city. 

A government previously focused on growth at all costs has suddenly become sensitive to its environmental challenges, activists say.

‘Social Discontent’

Smog in Beijing and Shanghai made the authorities “realize that it has to take measures to rein in pollution, otherwise it will cause social discontent,” said Li Shuo, a climate policy researcher at Greenpeace East Asia. “Health is of immediate concern to everyone.” 

The targets Xi announced alongside Obama have been hailed as a boost for negotiations at a United Nations conference beginning Dec. 1 in Lima, Peru. Envoys from more than 190 nations are seeking to craft a global pact that world leaders will sign next year in Paris. 

The U.S. part of the deal includes a push to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The current U.S. target is to reach a level of 17 percent below 2005 emissions by 2020. The Obama administration will likely have to achieve these cuts largely through regulatory methods. 

For China to succeed, it will have to install the clean energy equivalent of Spain’s entire generating capacity each year until 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data. It has achieved that only once -- last year.

‘Challenges Addressed’

“The fact is the Chinese government know they need to clean things up,” Martijn Wilder, head of the global environmental markets practice at law firm Baker & McKenzie, said by phone from Sydney. “China is a developing country. There are challenges, but those are rapidly being addressed.” 

Electricity demand will rise 46 percent by 2020 and double by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency. China currently depends on coal for two-thirds of its energy, more than any other Group of 20 country except South Africa. 

The shift to renewables stands to benefit nuclear reactor makers including General Electric Co. and Areva SA, along with wind turbine manufacturers led by Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co. and Vestas Wind Systems A/S. It also provides expansion opportunities for China’s solar panel makers such as Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. and Trina Solar Ltd., the two biggest suppliers.

Energy Spending

“China, as one of the world’s biggest energy consumers, must catch up as it lags behind other countries on energy security and energy supply diversification,” said Chen Kangping, chief executive officer of JinkoSolar Holding Co., China’s third-largest solar manufacturer. 

In all, China will spend $4.6 trillion upgrading its power industry by 2040. Nuclear and renewables alone will garner $1.77 trillion in new investment, taking 79 percent of all the funding for power plants built in China, the IEA said in its World Energy Outlook on Nov. 12. Fossil fuels get the remaining share. 

The nuclear industry is under tighter scrutiny after the Fukushima disaster and faces a manpower shortage. All those new reactors will require large uranium supplies and as many as 1,000 workers each, Credit Suisse Group AG said. 

Much of the change will come from a different economic mix, said Joffe, of the World Resource Institute. China is already in the midst of a long-term “rebalancing” of its economy, shifting from a reliance on heavy industry to less energy-intensive service businesses, he said. 

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Feifei Shen in Beijing at fshen11@bloomberg.net; Iain Wilson in Tokyo at iwilson2@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net Reg Gale 

Modi Hails Indian Uranium-Supply Accord With Cameco

India agreed to buy C$350 million ($285 million) of uranium through 2020 from Canadian producer Cameco Corp. to fuel its expanding fleet of nuclear reactors.
The accord was announced Wednesday as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Ottawa, the first such trip by a PM from that nation in a generation. Cameco stock rose the most in five months in Toronto.
India is the fastest growing market for nuclear power after China. The nation is extending electricity supplies to serve more of its 1.24 billion population. It operates 21 reactors; another six are being built and due to come online by 2017.
While nuclear power isn’t the cheapest option, it’s preferable from an environmental perspective, Modi said. “This is an effort to save the world from global warming and climate change,” Modi told reporters.
India’s Department of Atomic Energy will acquire 7.1 million pounds of uranium concentrate, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Cameco said in a statement.
“This is a new port of entry, if you will, for Cameco’s uranium and we’re glad to have it open,” Chief Executive Officer Tim Gitzel said in a phone interview.
Cameco rose 5.7 percent to C$20.07 in Toronto, the highest close since Dec. 3.

Nuclear Fuel

“We haven’t done nuclear business with India for 40 years and to see that market open up, it’s great, not just for Cameco, but for India and Canada,” said Robert Gill, who helps manage about C$3.5 billion including Cameco shares at Lincluden Investment Management Ltd. in Oakville, Ontario.

Modi said ahead of his trip that a nuclear-power accord was a priority. Canadians have a less positive outlook on supplying the fuel -- an Internet survey from the Angus Reid Institute published Tuesday showed 60 percent of respondents opposed helping develop India’s nuclear energy industry.

India already has uranium supply accords with Russia, Kazakhstan, France and Uzbekistan.
“The relatively modest supply agreement is, in our view, effectively a first step in potentially a more significant longer-term arrangement with India,” Greg Barnes, a Toronto-based analyst at TD Securities Inc., said in a note to clients.

Modi Seeks to Accelerate India-Australia Trade Pact Talks

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Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he wants to speed up negotiations on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with Australia as he seeks better access for Indian businesses to the nation’s markets.
“This is a natural partnership arising from our shared values, interests and strategic maritime location,” Modi told reporters in Canberra today before addressing the Australian Parliament.
Modi’s address comes a day after China and Australia completed negotiations on a free-trade agreement and President Xi Jinping told parliament he wants greater security ties with Australia. China’s trade with Australia dwarfs that of India by 10 times and Prime Minister Tony Abbott said today he wants to sign a trade accord with the South Asian nation by the end of next year.
India is an “emerging, democratic superpower of Asia,” Abbott told reporters. “The trade relationship is underdeveloped and Prime Minister Modi and I have spent quite some time this morning talking about what we need to do to really crank up the trade relationship.”
Both India and Australia are seen by President Barack Obama as important supporters of the U.S. pivot into the Asia-Pacific, designed to counter China’s growing influence and territorial claims in the region.

Uranium Sales

Abbott visited India in September and signed an agreement for civil nuclear cooperation, opening the door for uranium sales to the nation. During the visit, the nations agreed to hold their first bilateral naval exercises in 2015.
“Security and defense are important and growing areas of the new India-Australia partnership for our advancing regional peace and stability,” Modi said today.
The nations agreed to extend defense cooperation to cover research, development and industry engagement and hold “regular” meetings of their defense ministers and military staff, the leaders said in a joint statement.
Counter-terrorism cooperation will be enhanced to cover transnational crimes including illegal migration.

Modi Masks

Last night, Modi addressed 21,000 people at Sydney’s Olympic Park where he promised visas for Australian tourists would soon be made available on arrival at Indian airports. Supporters waved the nation’s tri-color flag and donned Modi masks and T-shirts as they made their way into the arena.
His trip to Australia, where he attended the Group of 20 summit in Brisbane at the weekend, comes six months after his landslide election win and is the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister since 1986, according to his Twitter feed.
About 300,000 people born in India live in Australia, according to the 2011 census. Relations between the two countries have improved since 2009 when a wave of attacks on Indian students studying in Melbourne, Australia’s second-biggest city, resulted in a drop in applications for student visas.
India, which has an appetite for Australia’s coal, gold and copper, is the nation’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for about A$15 billion ($13 billion) in exports and imports including services, according to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Australia in December 2011 overturned a ban on uranium exports to India initiated because the nation wasn’t a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Exporting uranium to India, which is seeking to curb power shortfalls crippling the economy, will help Australian miners such as BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group-controlled Energy Resources of Australia Ltd.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Scott in Canberra at jscott14@bloomberg.net
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at rmathieson3@bloomberg.net Edward Johnson

Australia's Uranium

(Updated April 2015)
  • Australia's uranium has been mined since 1954, and three mines are currently operating. More are planned.
  • Australia's known uranium resources are the world's largest – 31% of the world total. 
  • In 2014 Australia produced 5897 tonnes of U3O8 (5000 tU). It is the world's third-ranking producer, behind Kazakhstan and Canada. All production is exported.
  • Australia uses no nuclear power, but with high reliance on coal any likely carbon constraints on electricity generation will make it a strong possibility. 
  • In 2015 the South Australian government set up a royal commission into the potential for nuclear power.


The Australian economy is unique in the OECD in that about 20% of GDP is accounted for by mining and mining services (in 2012). Uranium is a small part of this economically, but in energy terms, uranium (3944 PJ in 2012-13) comprises one-quarter of energy exports.
In the 1930s ores were mined at Radium Hill and Mount Painter in SA to recover radium for medical purposes. As a result a few hundred kilograms of uranium were also produced. 
Uranium ores as such were mined and treated in Australia initially from the 1950s until 1971. Radium Hill, SA, Rum Jungle, NT, and Mary Kathleen, Queensland, were the largest producers of uranium (as yellowcake). Production ceased either when ore reserves were exhausted or contracts were filled. Sales were to supply material primarily intended for USA and UK weapons programs at that time. However, much of it was used for electricity production.
The development of civil nuclear power stimulated a second wave of exploration activity in the late 1960s. A total of some 60 uranium deposits were identified from the 1950s through to the late 1970s, many by big companies with big budgets. (Since then only two significant new ones have been found: Kintyre and Beverley Four Mile. The minor exploration boom 2002-07 was driven by small companies focused on proving up known deposits.)
Mary Kathleen began recommissioning its mine and mill in 1974. Other developments were deferred pending the findings of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry, and its decision in the light of these. Mary Kathleen's second production phase was1976 to the end of 1982.
The Commonwealth Government announced in 1977 that new uranium mining was to proceed, commencing with the Ranger project in the Northern Territory. This mine opened in 1981. In 1979, Queensland Mines opened Nabarlek in the same region of Northern Territory. The orebody was mined out in one dry season and the ore stockpiled for treatment from 1980. The mine site is now rehabilitated.
A brief history of Australian uranium mining is appended. See also Former Australian Uranium Mines appendix.
Australia Map

Australian Uranium Production and Exports
    2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Production tonnes U3O8 9949 9581 10095 10278 7150 7036 7701 8954 5512
Exports tonnes U3O8 10252 9518 10151 10114 7555 6950 6917 8391 6702
Exports $A million 545 658 887 1030 758 610 607 823 622
For tU, divide by 1.1793.
Production and export by calendar year:
  2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013  2014
(tonnes U3O8)
8083 8930 10592 11217 8954 10145 9941 9413 6958 7056 8244 7488 5897
(tonnes U)
6854 7572 8982 9512 7593 8603 8430 7982 5900 5983 6991 6350 5000
(tonnes U3O8)
7637 9612 9648 12360 8660 10232 9663 9706 6888 6628 8116 7317  
(tonnes U)
6476 8151 8181 10481 7344 8676 8194 8230 5841 6170 6882 6205  
(A$ million FOB) 
363 398 411 573 529 881 749 1116 608 586 776 705  
export value*
($A/kg U3O8)
47.57 41.41 42.58 46.36 61.06 86.11 77.54 114.9 88.3 88.4 95.6 96.2  
export value*
(US$/lb U3O8)
* $A from declared net FOB estimates, $US calculated from this.
Source: Dept of Resources, Energy & Tourism 

Recent Production from Individual Mines
(tonnes of U3O8)
  2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Ranger 5183 5256 5273 5678 4262 2677 3284 4313 1113
Olympic Dam 3912 3474 4115 3974; 2258 4012 3853 4064 3988
Beverley 854 847 707 626 630 347 413 453 188
Honeymoon           0 151 124 37
Four Mile               0 186
Total 9949 9577 10095 10278 7150 7036 7701 8954 5512
Calendar year 2011 production of U3O8: 2641 t from Ranger, 3954 t from Olympic Dam, 416 t from Beverley, 45 t from Honeymoon, total 7056 tonnes (5983 tU). Calendar year 2012 U3O8 production: 3710 t from Ranger, 3992.5 t from Olympic Dam, 386.7 t from Beverley, 154.6 t from Honeymoon, total 8244 tonnes (6990.6 tU).
Calendar year 2013 U3O8 production: 2960 t from Ranger, 4008.7 t from Olympic Dam, 407.4 t from Beverley, 112 t from Honeymoon, total 7488 tonnes (6349.6 tU). 

Operating mines

The Ranger mine and associated town of Jabiru is about 230 kilometres east of Darwin, in the Northern Territory, surrounded by the Kakadu National Park, a major tourist attraction. The mine opened in 1981 at a production rate of approximately 3300 tonnes per year of uranium oxide and has since been expanded to 5500 t/yr capacity. Mining of the second pit was 1997 to 2012, and this is now being backfilled. Treatment is conventional acid leach. Future development will be underground, and application was made for approval of this in January 2013. A final decision of whether to mine the Ranger Deeps is expected at the end of 2014. Ranger is owned by Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA), a 68.39% subsidiary of Rio Tinto.
During 1988 the Olympic Dam project, then a joint venture of Western Mining Corporation and BP Minerals, commenced operations about 560 km north of Adelaide, in an arid part of South Australia. The massive deposit is underground, some 350 metres below the surface, and is the largest known uranium orebody in the world. The large underground mine produces copper, with gold and uranium as major by-products. Annual production capacity for uranium oxide has been expanded from 1800 to 4600 tonnes U3O8. It is now owned by BHP Billiton, following its 2005 takeover of WMC Resources. There are plans to greatly increase the mine's size and output, by accessing the orebody with a huge open pit, about 4.1 x 3.5 km and 1000m deep. (Further details below)
About 80% of the uranium is recovered in conventional acid leach of the flotation tailings from copper recovery. Most of the remaining 20% is from acid leach of the copper concentrate, but that concentrate then still contains up to 0.15% uranium. Hence the copper must be smelted at site, since selling it to overseas smelters would create both processing and safeguards complications for the smelter operator. This could change as part of a major envisaged expansion.
Both Ranger and the now-closed and rehabilitated Nabarlek mines are on aboriginal land in the Alligator Rivers region of the Northern Territory.  Aboriginal people receive royalties of 4.25% on sales of uranium from Northern Territory mines. The total received simply from Ranger is now over $207 million, and $14 million came from Nabarlek.
The Olympic Dam mine is on formerly pastoral land in the middle of South Australia. A town to accommodate 3500 people was built at Roxby Downs to service the mine.  The 18,000 ha mine lease is managed as a nature reserve.
The small Beverley mine in South Australia started operation late in 2000, 520 kilometres north of Adelaide, on the plains north-west of Lake Frome. It was Australia's first in situ leach (ISL) mine, accessing a palaeochannel deposit in sand in a saline aquifer. It was licensed to produce 1180 t/yr U3O8 (1000 tU), and reached this level in 2004, though production has declined since. It is owned and operated by Heathgate Resources Pty Ltd, an associate of General Atomics in the USA. In December 2010 the company received government approval to mine the Beverley North deposits, and in the last two years of operation almost all production through the Beverley plant came from this north orebody which is contiguous with the Four Mile deposits. Mining of Beverley ceased at the end of 2013, and of Beverley North early in 2014.
The Four Mile leases are contiguous with Beverley, and mining the east orebody by ISL commenced in April 2014. Resources are split between the west and the east orebodies, and the northeast orebody is also prospective. Uranium recovery is through Heathgate’s Pannikin satellite ion exchange plant then trucking the loaded resin to the main Beverley plant for stripping (elution) and precipitation, as is done at two US mines. Alliance Resources Ltd is a 25% free-carried joint venture partner after Heathgate's Quasar subsidiary farmed into the project. Production is at about 1200 t U3O8 per year.
The Honeymoon ISL mine in South Australia commenced operation in 2011. The owners received government approval to proceed with ISL mine development in November 2001 but reassessed its ore reserves and Uranium One, based in Toronto, finally moved to development in 2007. In 2008 Mitsui agreed to join the project as 49% joint venture partner, and a construction contract was then let. Operations were ramping up to 400 t/yr. In 2012 production was expected to be 275 tonnes U3O8, at $47/lb – three times the average cost of production in Kazakhstan. In fact it produced less. Mitsui largely funded the development and commissioning, but then withdrew from the project in 2012. In November 2013 Uranium One closed the mine and put it on care and maintenance until uranium prices improved.
For more detail of mines, see paper: Australia's Uranium Mines.

Uranium resources at mines and major deposits (tonnes U3O8)
Mine or deposit type Reserves Measured &
Indicated Resources
Inferred Resources
Ranger hard rock, open pit 9,675 63,377
Olympic Dam hard rock, underground 358,530 1,749,800 749,570
Beverley palaeochannel, ISL   21,000?  
Honeymoon palaeochannel, ISL 2,890 5,400  
Jabiluka hard tock, underground 67,700 16,440 57,500
Four Mile palaeochannel, ISL   14,000 17,700
Samphire palaeochannel and basement granite     19,000
Kintyre hard rock   25,600 2,400
Yeelirrie calcrete   52,500  
Wiluna calcrete   11,000  
Mulga Rock palaeochannel and lignite      27,100
Valhalla hard rock   24,765 5,860
Resources are additional to reserves.

Prospective mines and expansion

The Jabiluka uranium deposit in the Northern Territory was discovered in 1971-73, 20 kilometres north of Ranger. It is surrounded by the Kakadu National Park, but the mine lease area is excluded from the National Park and adjoins the Ranger lease. It has resources of over 130 000 tonnes of uranium oxide, and is one of the world's larger high-grade uranium deposits. A mining lease was granted in 1982 but development was stalled due to disagreements with the Aboriginal traditional owners. Then with the Australian Labor Party coming to power in the 1983 federal election, Commonwealth approval was withdrawn and development ceased. In 1991 Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), the operator of the adjacent Ranger mine, bought the Jabiluka lease from Pancontinental for A $125 million. 
Following the 1996 change of government and further approvals, development of the underground mine proceeded with an 1150 metre access decline and a further 700 metres of excavation around the orebody. However, mining was deferred until agreement could be reached regarding treatment of Jabiluka ore at the Ranger mill. ERA (whose parent company is Rio Tinto) will not proceed with the mine until there is agreement from the local Mirrar Aboriginal people.
For Olympic Dam BHP Billiton undertook a major feasibility study on greatly expanding the mine, and in 2009 it released the 4600-page environmental impact statement for the project. This was approved by state and federal governments in October 2011. The plan is to develop a large open pit with associated infrastructure over 11 years and lift uranium production to 19,000 tonnes U3O8 per year. The open pit would mean that up to 98% of the ore is mined rather than 25% of it. Most of the uranium would be separated at the mine, but up to 2000 t/yr would be exported in copper concentrates, requiring a smelter for these in China or Japan which is subject to safeguards. New infrastructure would include a 280 ML/day desalination plant on Spencer Gulf, supplying 200 ML/day to the operation, and 650 MWe increase in power supply. The present underground mining would continue in the narrow northern part of the orebody. However, in August 2012 the company said that it would investigate a new and less-costly design for its planned open-pit expansion, which meant it could not approve the project in time to meet a government deadline in December. In November 2012 the state government granted a four-year extension, conditional on the company spending $650 million on pre-project research on heap leaching and on community work.
In November 2014, in a general announcement about productivity, BHP Billiton flagged a 27% increase in copper production at Olympic Dam from 2018, and a doubling from that level subsequently by “a low-risk underground expansion with significantly lower capital intensity than the previous open cut design. This has the potential to deliver over 450,000 tonnes of copper production a year at first quartile C1 costs by the middle of next decade”. The uranium implications were not mentioned, but assuming the same ore as today, it would mean about 5000 t U3O8 (4200 tU) per year from 2018 and some 9400 t U3O8 (8000 tU) per year in mid-2020s.
Cameco and Mitsubishi (70:30%) bought the Kintyre deposit in WA in 2008 from Rio Tinto for uS$ 495 million. Cameco initially envisaged starting mine construction in 2013 and operation in 2015, to produce 2700 to 3600 t U3O8 per year for 15 years. In mid-2012 Cameco put the project on hold pending firmer uranium prices or lower development costs.
BHP Billiton applied to bring its Yeelirrie, WA, deposit into production and projected 2000 t/yr U3O8 production from 2014, though in February 2010 approval was sought for production at 3500 t/yr. However, in 2011 the project was wound down due to high treatment costs and in 2012 it was sold to Cameco for US$ 340 million. In November 2014 Cameco requested the WA EPA to cancel the earlier environmental application, and submit a new one involving production at 7500 t U3O8 per year, and to assess the application under new 2012 EPA procedures.
Toro Energy is well advanced with plans to produce 750 t/yr U3O8 from its Wiluna project, comprising the shallow Lake Way and Centipede-Millipede deposits and the nearby Lake Maitland deposit in WA, from 2016.
Energy & Minerals Australia is developing the Mulga Rock deposits in WA, with ISL production targeted for 2014, and that from lignite in 2016.
The largest prospective Queensland mine is Paladin's Valhalla, 40 km north of Mount Isa. This is a major deposit but was stalled to 2012 by state government policies.
UraniumSA Ltd has its Samphire project south of Whyalla on the Eyre Peninsula. Both main orebodies are amenable to ISL mining, though the aquifers are very saline. In 2011 further mineralisation, some high-grade, was identified in or on the granite basement opening up the prospect of open pit mining.

There has been increasing foreign equity in Australian uranium deposits. As well as the Honeymoon, Kintyre and Yeelirrie projects above, in February 2009 Mega Uranium sold 35% of the Lake Maitland project to the Itochu Corporation (10% of Japanese share) and Japan Australia Uranium Resources Development Co. Ltd. (JAURD), acting on behalf of Kansai Electric Power Company (50%), Kyushu Electric Power Company (25%) and Shikoku Electric Power Company (15%) for US$ 49 million. In 2006 Sinosteel bought 60% of Pepinini's Curnamona project for A$ 31 million, and in 2009 China Guangdong NPC bought 70% of Energy Metals' Bigrlyi project for A$ 83.6 million. Both are early-stage exploration ventures.
For more detail of mine prospects see paper: Australia's Uranium Deposits and Prospective Mines.

Economic benefits of mining uranium

About 1200 people are employed in uranium mining, at least 500 in uranium exploration, and 60 jobs are in regulation of uranium mining.
Uranium mines generate about A$ 21 million in royalties each year (in 2005: Ranger $13.1 million, Beverley $1.0 million and Olympic Dam $6.9 million attributable to uranium). Corporate taxes amount to over $42 million per year.

Uranium exports from Australia

Australian production is all exported, and over the six years has averaged over 8600 t/yr U3O8, and in 2012 provided 12% of world uranium supply from mines. Uranium comprises about 35% of the country's energy exports (4150 PJ av) in thermal terms.
Australia's uranium is sold strictly for electrical power generation only, and safeguards are in place to ensure this. Australia is a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapons state. Its safeguards agreement under the NPT came into force in 1974 and it was the first country in the world to bring into force the Additional Protocol in relation to this – in 1997. In addition to these international arrangements Australia requires customer countries to have entered a bilateral safeguards treaty which is more rigorous than NPT arrangements.
The value of Australia's uranium oxide concentrate exports is considerable, and in 2009 they reached a value of over A$ 1.1 billion. However, production problems at Olympic Dam from late 2009 into 2010 set production back considerably over those two years, then the Fukushima accident in March 2011 softened prices.
In 2013, U3O8 sales were to North America (mainly USA) 2201 t (33.6%), Europe 2480 t (37.8%) and Asia 1873 t (28.6%). (These figures are deliveries of Australian product to customers’ converter accounts and exclude third party material purchased to fulfill contract obligations.)
The nations which currently purchase Australia's uranium are set out below, though up to date details on country destinations is not available. All have a large commitment to nuclear power:

Australian Uranium Export Sales '08
The USA generates around 30% of the world's nuclear power. Much of its uranium comes from Canada, but Australia is a major source. Europe depends heavily on nuclear power and EU countries are also major customers.  Japan, South Korea and now China are important customers due to their increasing dependence on nuclear energy.
Customer countries' contracted imports of Australian uranium oxide concentrate may be summarised as follows, though detailed information has not been readily available in recent years: (see also the reactor table):
  • USA: up to 5000 tonnes per year (the apparent level in 2013).
  • EU: up to 3500 tonnes per year, including Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, UK. Apparently about 2300 t in 2013.
  • Japan: up to 2500 tonnes per year.
  • South Korea: up to 1500 tonnes per year.
  • China: about 500 tonnes per year.
  • Taiwan: up to 500 tonnes per year.
  • Canada and South Africa: both are uranium producer countries with nuclear power plants and which buy a small amount from Australia occasionally.
Australia is a preferred uranium supplier to world, especially East Asian, markets where demand is growing most rapidly. In 2006 a bilateral agreement was concluded with China, enabling exports there, and in 2007 a similar agreement was signed with Russia, which came into force in 2010. An agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) came into force in 2014, making the total 22 (covering 47 countries) and another with India is being negotiated. Australia could readily increase its share of the world market because of its low cost resources and its political and economic stability.
As well as uranium sold to overseas customers (mainly utilities) by the four mining companies, Energy Metals Ltd, an exploration company with majority Chinese ownership, has an export permit. In December 2011 it announced the sale of 68 tonnes of U3O8 to its parent company, China General Nuclear Power, for shipment in 2012. (CGN’s wholly-owned subsidiary, China Uranium Development Co., is Energy Metals’ largest shareholder with a 60.6% stake. The company sources uranium from Australian producers.)
Environmental aspects of uranium exports are notable: Shipping 7000 tonnes of U3O8 as in 2010 is the energy equivalent of shipping 140 million tonnes of thermal coal. Australia's present thermal coal exports are over 100 million tonnes, requiring between 3,000 and 4,000 voyages of bulk carriers through environmentally sensitive regions such as the Great Barrier Reef. Export coal also has an environmental impact through the provision of harbours and railways.

Uranium resources

On the basis of December 2012 data Australia has 29% of the world's uranium resources (under US$ 130/kg) – 1.7 million tonnes of uranium. Almost half of Australia's 1.174 million tonnes of Reasonably Assured Resources of uranium in this price category were actually in the under $80/kg U category when this was last reported.
The world’s Reasonably Assured plus Inferred Resources in the $130/kg category are tabulated in the Supply of Uranium information paper.
A review of Australia’s uranium is provided in Australia’s Uranium: Resources, Geology and Development of Deposits.
The vast majority of Australia's uranium resources to $130/kgU) are within five deposits: Olympic Dam (the world's largest known uranium deposit), Ranger, Jabiluka, Kintyre and Yeelirrie.
Despite restrictive state government policies and perhaps in anticipation of their disappearance, uranium exploration gathered pace during 2006, with more than 200 companies professing an interest, compared with 34 the previous year, and A$ 80 million being spent. Expenditure then more than doubled, to A$ 182 million in 2007, A$ 227 million in 2008, A$ 180 million in 2009 and A$ 190 million in 2011. It then declined abruptly to A$ 98 million in 2012.
Uranium exploration has been illegal in Victoria and New South Wales, and remains so in Victoria. Uranium mining is being reinstated in Queensland after a few years break.

Nuclear power prospects in Australia

Australia has a significant infrastructure to support any future nuclear power program. As well as the Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organisation (ANSTO), which owns and runs the modern 20 MWt Opal research reactor, there is a world-ranking safeguards set-up – the Australian Safeguards & Non-proliferation Office (ASNO), the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) and a well-developed uranium mining industry.
However, in contrast to most G20 countries, the main driver for nuclear power in Australia is reduction of CO2 emissions, or costs arising from that. Apart from that, Australia's huge coal resources and significant natural gas underwrite energy security and provide low-cost power.
There are several legal hurdles impeding consideration of nuclear power for Australia. NSW has a Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibition) Act 1986, and Victoria has a Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983. Federally, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Act 1988 will need to be amended to remove prohibitions against effective regulation of nuclear power.*
*The ARPANS Act 1998 has section 10 Prohibition on certain nuclear installations, and the EPBC Act 1999 much the same in section 140A. ARPANS Act section 10:
  1. Nothing in this Act is to be taken to authorise the construction or operation of any of the following nuclear installations:
    • (a) a nuclear fuel fabrication plant;
    • (b) a nuclear power plant;
    • (c) an enrichment plant;
    • (d) a reprocessing facility.
  2. The CEO must not issue a licence under section 32 in respect of any of the facilities mentioned in subsection (1).
Fuller details and context are on the Decarbonise SA website.

UMPNER report 2006 and follow-on

In December 2006 the report of the Prime Minster's expert taskforce considering nuclear power was released. It said nuclear power would be 20-50% more expensive than coal-fired power and (with renewables) it would only be competitive if "low to moderate" costs are imposed on carbon emissions (A$ 15-40 – US$ 12-30 – per tonne CO2). "Nuclear power is the least-cost low-emission technology that can provide base-load power" and has low life cycle impacts environmentally. 
The then Prime Minister said that in the context of meeting increased energy needs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions "if we are to have a sensible response we have to include nuclear power". "The report provides a thorough examination of all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle and the possible role of nuclear power in generating electricity in Australia in the longer term. It provides a clear and comprehensive analysis of the facts surrounding the nuclear industry and debunks a number of myths. I am certain that the report will make a significant contribution to informing public debate on these issues."
The report said that the first nuclear plants could be running in 15 years, and looking beyond that, 25 reactors at coastal sites might be supplying one-third of Australia's (doubled) electricity demand by 2050. Certainly "the challenge to contain and reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be considerably eased by investment in nuclear plants." "Emission reductions from nuclear power could reach 8 to 18% of national emissions in 2050".
In April 2007 the Prime Minister announced that the government would proceed to open the way for nuclear power in Australia by setting up a nuclear regulatory regime and removing any regulatory obstacles which might unreasonably stand in the way of building nuclear power plants. Australia would also apply to join the Generation IV International Forum, which is developing advanced reactor designs for deployment about 2025. The government would also take steps to remove impediments to uranium mining. "Policies or political platforms that seek to constrain the development of a safe and reliable Australian uranium industry – and which rule out the possibility of climate-friendly nuclear energy – are not really serious about addressing climate change in a practical way that does not strangle the Australian economy."
In June 2007 the emissions trading taskforce report proposed that Australia should move steadily to implement an emissions trading scheme by 2012. While Australia cannot afford to wait upon a global regime, its own should be devised so as to avoid the shortcomings of present schemes and also articulate internationally. Both emission reduction targets and carbon price would be low initially and ramp up. The need for a trading scheme "more comprehensive, more rigorously grounded in economics and with better governance than anything in Europe" was noted. It would be designed to appeal to developing nations. The cost increment on coal-fired power generation brought about by a carbon emission cost would be likely to make nuclear power competitive in Australia. 
With a change of government late in 2007 the move towards nuclear power was halted and the implementation of an emissions trading scheme became bogged down in political rhetoric.

National Generators Forum 2006

Any proposal for building nuclear power plants would need to be brought forward by generating companies. The National Generators Forum published a report in 2006 on Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Power Generation which concluded that "Stabilising emissions at present levels and meeting base-load requirements could be achieved with nuclear power at comparatively modest cost." While projected cost increases to 2050 could be more than 120%, using nuclear power would halve the increase. "At $20 per tonne of CO2 price, nuclear starts to become more cost-effective than current fossil fuel technologies." 
Cooling will be a major issue in respect to future base-load generating capacity in Australia. At present about 80% of electricity is produced from coal-fired plants, mostly cooled by evaporating water in cooling towers. An estimated 400 GL/yr of fresh water is thus evaporated and lost - about the same as Melbourne's water use. In the light of widespread shortage of fresh water, cooling of nuclear plants would need to be by seawater, hence coastal sites would be required* and to the extent that nuclear plants actually replaced coal-fired plants, a very large amount of fresh water would be freed up for other uses. Coastal location of nuclear plants would also give rise to the possibility of cogeneration, using waste heat or surplus heat for desalination and production of potable water.
* A coal plant is normally sited on a coalfield (inland), so does use a lot of water for evaporative cooling towers. A nuclear plant can be anywhere, from the point of view of fuel supply.

IFNEC participation

In September 2007 Australia was one of eleven countries joining the five founders in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (now the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation – IFNEC). Australia made it a condition that it is not obliged to accept any foreign nuclear wastes, and it reserved the right to enrich uranium in the future. In the lead up to this Australia and the USA finalized a joint action plan for civil nuclear energy cooperation including R&D and regulatory issues. 

ATSE action plan 2014

In July 2013 the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) held a two-day conference on nuclear power for Australia. This resulted in an action plan in 2014, which included comparing the nuclear option with alternative energy scenarios in the 2030-2050 timeframe, reviewing current policies which preclude consideration of nuclear power, commence open and active community engagement, building on overseas R&D program linkages.

SA royal commission 2015

In February 2015 the Labor state government of South Australia set up a royal commission into the potential for nuclear power in that state, which already produces two-thirds of Australia’s uranium. The terms of reference include fuel cycle and high-level waste disposal as well as power generation, and it is to report by May 2016. The inquiry is supported by the state Liberal (conservative) opposition and the federal Liberal coalition government, but not by the federal Labor party (though it supports uranium mining). Assuming that the royal commission’s findings are positive, the main question is: to what extent will they be accepted nationally? Certainly before any nuclear capacity was built anywhere, federal laws would need to be changed.
The first of four issues papers was published in April 2015. On uranium exploration, ming and milling. Others will follow on: fuel conversion, enrichment, fabrication and reprocessing; electricity generation; and waste management. The due date for written submissions is 24 July 2015.
Insofar as the royal commission will direct future power investment in SA, the question of reactor unit size arises. At present the unit size of any generating unit there is regulated at 260 MWe, though modelling has shown 500 MWe units are possible. Small modular reactors would therefore be indicated. But if transmission links were expanded a SA nuclear power plant with large reactors could serve the eastern states.

Earlier background to considering nuclear power

In 1953 the Australian Parliament passed the Atomic Energy Act, which established the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC). AAEC's functions included advising the Government on nuclear energy matters, and the Commission quickly decided that effective and informed advice could only be provided if there was underlying expertise directly available to it. Hence in 1955 it established a research establishment at Lucas Heights, near Sydney and began assembling a world class team of scientists and engineers. It also began construction of a materials testing reactor, HIFAR, which first achieved criticality and started up on Australia Day, in January 1958.
The AAEC's research program was initially very ambitious and included studies of two different power reactor systems, on the base of substantial multi-disciplinary research in the fields of physics, chemistry, materials science and engineering. Later, recognising Australia's potential as a source of uranium, AAEC also undertook an experimental research program in the enrichment of uranium.
The AAEC also initially convinced the Government that there would be benefits from the construction of a "lead" nuclear power station on Commonwealth land at Jervis Bay, south of Sydney. After competitive bids were obtained, a reshuffle of leadership in the Government led to a loss of interest in the proposal and the project was eventually abandoned in 1972.
In the late 1950s nuclear power was considered for the large new power station at Port Augusta in SA, which was eventually commissioned in 1963 to burn very low-grade coal from Leigh Creek. In the late 1960s Victoria's State Electricity Commission undertook preliminary studies on building a large nuclear plant on French Island in Westernport. In 1969 the South Australian government proposed a nuclear power plant in SA to supply the eastern states' grid. Then in 1976 the SA government in its submission to the Ranger Uranium Inquiry said nuclear power appeared inevitable for SA, perhaps by 2000.
In 1981, the government's National Energy Advisory Committee presented a report on the administrative and legal issues associated with any domestic nuclear power program. It recommended that "the commonwealth, state and Northern Territory governments should develop with minimum delay a legal framework using complementary legislation as appropriate for licensing and regulating health, safety and environmental and third party liability aspects."
In Australia the possibility of nuclear power is hindered in Victoria and NSW, by legislation enacted by previous governments. In Victoria the Nuclear Activities (Prohibitions) Act 1983 prohibits the construction or operation of any nuclear reactor, and consequential amendments to other Acts reinforce this. In NSW the Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibitions) Act 1986 is similar. In 2007 the Queensland government enacted the Nuclear Facilities Prohibition Act 2006, which is similar (but allows uranium mining).

Electricity options

Coal provides the majority of Australia's electricity, and the full picture is given in the paper Australia's Electricity, as an Appendix to this. This also accounts for most of the 200 Mt/yr carbon dioxide emissions from electricity and heat production and uses up about 400 GL/yr of fresh water for evaporative cooling. Preliminary IEA figures show 2013 generation of 247 TWh, 64% from coal and 20.5% from gas
Australia is fortunate in having large easily-mined deposits of coal close to the major urban centres in the eastern mainland states. It has been possible to site the major power stations close to those coal deposits and thus eliminate much of the cost and inconvenience of moving large tonnages of a bulky material. Energy losses in electricity transmission are relatively low.
Western and South Australia have relatively less coal but plenty of gas and also lower demand for electricity. More than half of their electricity is derived from burning gas. Development of Tasmania's large hydro-electric resources has put off the day when it needs any large thermal power stations, but hydro potential is now almost fully utilised.
In the next 15 years or so Australia is likely to need to replace the oldest quarter of its thermal generating capacity, simply due to old age. This is at least 8000 MWe, practically all coal-fired. If it were replaced by gas-fired plant, there would be a reduction of about 25-30 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. If it were replaced by say six nuclear reactors there would be a reduction of about 50 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. Every 22 tonnes of uranium (26 t U3O8) used saves the emission of one million tonnes of CO2 relative to coal.
In other parts of the world as well as Western and South Australia, there was a conspicuous "flight to gas" in the late 1990s while gas prices were low. Generating plant to utilise gas is relatively cheap and quickly built, and at the point of use, gas-fired electricity does cause only half the greenhouse emission of coal. It is clearly an option to utilise more gas for electricity in Australia if low gas prices can be maintained many years ahead.
Moving to gas would be seen by some as a great step forward for the environment. Others would see it as a tragic waste of a valuable and versatile energy resource. Gas can be reticulated to homes and factories to be burned there at much greater efficiency overall.
In January 2007 the Energy Supply Association of Australia (ESAA) completed a study on electricity supply options relative to CO2 emission constraints in meeting projected load in 2030. For a 67% increase in electricity load, greenhouse gas emission targets of 140%, 100% and 70% of 2000 levels were modeled, with three supply options: all credible technologies; without nuclear; and without both nuclear and fossil fuel (with carbon capture and storage). Constraining CO2 emissions would require nuclear contributing 20% of the power, with overall about 30% increase in costs, hence a need for costing carbon to cover this. ESAA concluded that "the widest possible range of generation technologies will be needed."

Radioactive wastes

While Australia has no nuclear power producing electricity, it does have well-developed usage of radioisotopes in medicine, research and industry. Many of these isotopes are produced in the research reactor at Lucas Heights, near Sydney, then used at hospitals, industrial sites and laboratories around the country.
Each year Australia produces about 45 cubic metres of radioactive wastes arising from these uses and from the manufacture of the isotopes – about 40 m3 low-level wastes (LLW) and 5 m3 intermediate-level wastes (ILW). These wastes are now stored at over a hundred sites around Australia. This is not considered a suitable long-term strategy.
Since the late 1970s there has been an evolving process of site selection for a national radioactive waste repository for LLW and short-lived ILW. There has also been consideration of the need to locate a secure storage facility for long-lived intermediate-level wastes including those which will be returned to Australia following the reprocessing of used fuel from Lucas Heights. Eventually, disposal options for this will need to be considered also.
Low-level wastes and short-lived intermediate-level wastes will be disposed of in a shallow, engineered repository designed to ensure that radioactive material is contained and allowed to decay safely to background levels. Dry conditions will allow a simpler structure than some overseas repositories. The material will be buried in drums or contained in concrete. The repository will have a secure multi-layer cover at least 5 metres thick, so that it does not add to local background radiation levels at the site.
There is a total of about 3700 cubic metres of low-level waste awaiting proper disposal, though annual arisings are small (the 40 cubic metres would be three truckloads). Over half of the present material is lightly-contaminated soil from CSIRO mineral processing research decades ago (and could conceivably be reclassified, since it is no more radioactive than many natural rocks and sands).
Long-lived intermediate-level (category S) wastes will be stored above ground in an engineered facility designed to hold them secure for an extended period and to shield their radiation until a geological repository is eventually justified and established, or alternative arrangements made.
There is about 500 cubic metres of category S waste at various locations awaiting disposal, and future annual arisings will be about 5 cubic metres from all sources including states & territories, Commonwealth agencies and from radiopharmaceutical production, plus the returned material from reprocessing spent ANSTO research reactor fuel in Europe. This will be conditioned by vitrification or embedding in cement, and some 26 cubic metres of it is expected by about 2020.
In March 2012 parliament passed the National Radioactive Waste Management Bill 2010 which provides for a national repository for low-level wastes and store for intermediate-level wastes, on land which has been volunteered by its owners, probably at Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory.
See further: Radioactive Waste Repository & Store for Australia, as Appendix to this paper. 

Research & development, isotope production

The High Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR) operated at Lucas Heights near Sydney from 1958 to 2007, and was for many years the only operating nuclear reactor in Australia. It was used for materials research, to produce radioactive materials for medicine and industry and to irradiate silicon for the high performance computer industry. It was a 10 MW unit which had the highest level of availability of any research reactor in the world. It was at the heart of almost all the research activities of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and supported those of several other organisations on the same site.
In 2006 HIFAR was replaced by a new research reactor, known as OPAL (Open Pool Australian Light-water reactor), a modern 20 MW neutron source. It achieves over 300 operational days per year, in the top league of the world's 240 research reactors. OPAL uses low-enriched fuel and for Mo-99 production it irradiates low-enriched targets which are then processed to recover the Mo-99.
In September 2012 ANSTO announced a A$ 168 million expansion of its Sydney facilities, principally for molybdenum-99 production, the source of technetium-99 which is widely used in nuclear medicine for diagnosis. Current world demand is about 45 million doses (23,000 six-day TBq/yr) per year, and the new plant will be capable of meeting about one quarter of this from 2016 at a time when the main plants in Canada and Europe are set to close. The new plant will more fully utilise the OPAL reactor. The investment also covers building a plant for Synroc wasteform.
See further: Australian Research Reactors, as Appendix to this paper, and Synroc Wasteform paper. 
General Sources:
ERA & WMC/ BHP Billiton quarterly and Annual Reports
OECD NEA & IAEA, 2006, Uranium 2005: Resources, Production and Demand
Commonwealth of Australia 2006, Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy – Opportunities for Australia?, Report to the Prime Minister by the Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review Taskforce, December 2006
Alder, Keith, 1996, Australia's Uranium Opportunities, P.M.Alder, Sydney.
Hardy C. 1999, Atomic Rise and Fall – the AAEC 1953-87, Glen Haven Press.
Cawte A 1992, UNSW Press.


A brief history of Australian uranium mining

The existence of uranium deposits in Australia has been known since the 1890s. Some uranium ores were mined in the 1930s at Radium Hill and Mount Painter, South Australia, to recover minute amounts of radium for medical purposes. Some uranium was also recovered and used as a bright yellow pigment in glass and ceramics.

Following requests from the British and United States governments, systematic exploration for uranium began in 1944. In 1948 the Commonwealth Government offered tax-free rewards for the discovery of uranium orebodies. As a result, uranium was discovered by prospectors at Rum Jungle in 1949, and in the South Alligator River region (1953) of the Northern Territory, then at Mary Kathleen (1954) and Westmoreland (1956) in north west Queensland.

In 1952 a decision was taken to mine Rum Jungle, NT and it opened in 1954 as a Commonwealth Government enterprise. Radium Hill, SA was reopened in 1954 as a uranium mine. Mining began at Mary Kathleen, Qld in 1958 and in the South Alligator region, NT in 1959. Production at most mines ceased by 1964 and Rum Jungle closed in 1971, either when ore reserves were exhausted or contracts were filled. Sales of some 7730 tonnes of uranium from these operations were to supply material primarily intended for USA and UK weapons programs at that time. However much of it was used in civil power production.

Australia Map
The development of nuclear power stimulated a second wave of exploration activity in the late 1960s. In the Northern Territory, Ranger was discovered in 1969, Nabarlek and Koongarra in 1970, and Jabiluka in 1971. New sales contracts (for electric power generation) were made by Mary Kathleen Uranium Ltd., Queensland Mines Ltd. (for Nabarlek), and Ranger Uranium Mines Pty. Ltd., in the years 1970-72.
Successive governments (both Liberal Coalition and Labor) approved these, and Mary Kathleen began recommissioning its mine and mill in 1974. Consideration by the Commonwealth Government of additional sales contracts was deferred pending the findings of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry, and its decision in the light of these. Mary Kathleen recommenced production of uranium oxide in 1976, after the Commonwealth Government had taken up a 42% share of the company.
The Commonwealth Government announced in 1977 that new uranium mining was to proceed, commencing with the Ranger project in the Northern Territory. In 1979 it decided to sell its interest in Ranger, and as a result Energy Resources of Australia Ltd was set up to own and operate the mine. The mine opened in 1981, producing 2800 t/yr of uranium, sold to utilities in several countries. Production over three years to mid 2002 averaged 3533 t/yr of uranium.
In 1980, Queensland Mines opened Nabarlek in the same region of Northern Territory. The orebody was mined out in one dry season and the ore stockpiled for treatment from 1980. A total of 10,858 tonnes of uranium oxide were produced and sold to Japan, Finland and France, over 1981-88. The mine site is now rehabilitated.
At the end of 1982 Mary Kathleen in Queensland had depleted its ore and finally closed down after 4802 tonnes of uranium oxide had been produced in its second phase of operation. This then became the site of Australia's first major rehabilitation project on a uranium mine site, which was completed at the end of 1985. A Rum Jungle Rehabilitation project also took place in the 1980s.

Australian Labor Party (ALP) policy on uranium mining has varied over four decades. The 1971 Platform, on which the Whitlam Government was elected in 1972, committed the party to working towards the establishment of a domestic uranium enrichment and nuclear power sector. But after losing government in 1975, pressure grew in the Labor Party for a strong stance against uranium mining and export, as a counterpoint to Liberal Coalition policies to expedite uranium mining and export. An anti-nuclear movement gained strength and campaigned to end Australian uranium mining.
The 1977 ALP National Conference adopted a new policy. Community concerns with the threat of nuclear war were to be allayed by ending uranium mining and ceasing Australia's contribution to the nuclear fuel cycle. The change committed a future Labor government to declare a moratorium on uranium mining and treatment and to repudiating any commitments to mining, processing or export made by a non-Labor government. The policy made a strong statement and was seen to provide moral leadership.
By the time of the 1982 ALP National Conference, many in the Labor Party were troubled about how an incoming Labor Government would implement the party's moratorium policy. There was concern that the repudiation of contracts would raise issues of sovereign risk and would expose a Labor government to compensation liabilities. An amendment to the ALP Platform in 1982 sought a compromise between the positions of those who wanted to shut the industry down and those who felt that doing so was neither possible nor in the national interest. It committed Labor to a policy on uranium mining which was a classic political compromise, the core of which endured as Labor policy for 25 years. The policy was designed to prevent new uranium mines; limit Australia's uranium production with a view to the eventual phasing out of mining altogether; and provide moral leadership in ending the nuclear industry.
However, in a concession to South Australia, it also said that a Labor government would "consider applications for the export of uranium mined incidentally to the mining of other minerals on a case by case basis". This was the Roxby Downs amendment, which would allow export of uranium from Olympic Dam - a major copper and uranium deposit. So the 1982 anti-uranium policy actually authorised the development of the world's largest uranium mine!
In the 1983 federal election the ALP won office. The 1984 ALP National Conference then dropped the language of moratorium, repudiation of contracts and phase-out from the Platform. For the first time the three-mines-policy was delineated by naming Nabarlek, Ranger and Roxby Downs (Olympic Dam) as the only projects from which exports would be permitted. Provisional approvals for marketing from other prospective uranium mines were cancelled.
The naming of specific mines was later deleted from the Labor Platform in the light of the fact that Nabarlek ceased production in 1988 and under a (conservative) Coalition government Beverley started up in 2000. The ALP policy then only allowed exports from existing mines and prevented the establishment of new ones. This endured as a "no new mines" policy through a change of government in 1996 until 2007, when it was abandoned as ineffective and likely to be electorally negative due to changed public opinion arising from global warming concerns. Opposition to uranium mining was then left to state ALP branches and governments. This continued in WA and Queensland until changes of government in 2008 and 2012 respectively. (NSW and Victoria have legislation banning uranium exploration and mining, which has not been repealed by conservative governments.) A fourth mine, Honeymoon, started up in South Australia in 2011.
Adapted from Senator Chris Evans speech 23/3/07 to Labor Business Roundtable, Perth.

During 1988 the Olympic Dam project commenced operations. This is a large underground mine at Roxby Downs, South Australia, producing copper, with uranium and gold as by-products. Annual production of uranium started at some 1300 tonnes, with sales to Sweden, UK, South Korea and Japan. After a A$ 1.9 billion expansion project, production increased to over 4000 tonnes uranium per year by mid 2001. In 2005 it was taken over by BHP Billiton.
Beverley, the first Australian in situ leach (ISL) mine started up in 2001 and closed early in 2014. Another ISL mine, Honeymoon, came on line in 2011 and closed in 2013. Production from Four Mile started in 2014, using a satellite plant to capture the uranium from ISL and the Beverley plant for final product recovery. Beverley and Honeymoon may resume production with increased uranium prices.
Both Ranger and Nabarlek mines are on aboriginal land in the Alligator Rivers region of the Northern Territory, close to the Kakadu National Park. In fact the Ranger and two other leases are surrounded by the National Park but were deliberately excluded from it when the park was established. Ranger is served by the township of Jabiru, constructed largely for that purpose. Nabarlek employees were based in Darwin and commuted by air.
See also: Former Australian Uranium Mines paper.

Australia's Uranium Mines

Appendix to Australia's Uranium paper 

(Updated 20 March 2015)
There are three operating uranium mines in Australia: Ranger in Northern Territory, Olympic Dam in South Australia, and Beverley with Four Mile in South Australia. Four Mile has final processing through the Beverley plant. Honeymoon was shut down in 2013 pending improved uranium prices, and the main Beverley (and North Beverley) wellfields were also shut down soon after that.
Recent Production from Australian Uranium Mines
(tonnes of U3O8)
  2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14
Ranger 5256 5273 5678 4262 2677 3284 4313 1113
Olympic Dam 3474 4115 3974 2258 4012 3853 4064 3988
Beverley 847 707 626 630 347 413 453 188
Four Mile             0 186
Honeymoon 0 0 0 0 0 151 124 37

Calendar year 2011 U3O8 production: 2641 t from Ranger, 3954 t from Olympic Dam, 416 t from Beverley, 45.4 t from Honeymoon, total 7056 tonnes (5983 tU).
Calendar year 2012 U3O8 production: 3710 t from Ranger, 3992.5 t from Olympic Dam, 386.7 t from Beverley, 154.6 t from Honeymoon, total 8244 tonnes (6990.6 tU).
Calendar year 2013 U3O8 production: 2960 t from Ranger, 4008.7 t from Olympic Dam, 407.4 t from Beverley, 112 t from Honeymoon, total 7488 tonnes (6350 tU).
Calendar year 2014 U3O8 production: 1165 t from Ranger, 3952 t from Olympic Dam, 24.7 t from Beverley, 755 t from Four Mile, total 5897 tonnes (5000 tU).

Australia Map


The Ranger mine and associated town of Jabiru is about 230 kilometres east of Darwin, surrounded by the Kakadu National Park, a major tourist attraction. This is a monsoonal part of Australia, with pronounced wet season from December to April. The first two orebodies are now mined out and work is under way to develop an underground mine, though in the longer term the Jabiluka orebody, 20 km away on a contiguous lease, is a more significant prospect (see Uranium Deposits paper).


In 1969 the Ranger orebody was discovered by a Joint Venture of Peko Wallsend Operations Ltd (Peko) and The Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australia Limited (EZ). In 1974 an agreement set up a joint venture consisting of Peko, EZ and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC).
In 1978, following a wide ranging public inquiry (the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry) and publication of its two reports (the Fox reports), agreement to mine was reached between the Commonwealth Government and the Northern Land Council, acting on behalf of the traditional Aboriginal land owners. The terms of the joint venture were then finalised and Ranger Uranium Mines Pty Ltd was appointed as manager of the project.
In August 1979 the Commonwealth Government announced its intention to sell its interest in the Ranger project. As a result of this, Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) was set up with 25% equity holding by overseas customers. In establishing the company in 1980 the AAEC interest was bought out for $125 million (plus project costs) and Peko and EZ became the major shareholders. Several customers held 25% of the equity in non-tradable shares. Ranger Uranium Mines Pty Ltd became a subsidiary of ERA. During 1987-8 EZ's interest in ERA was taken over by North Broken Hill Holdings Ltd and that company merged with Peko. Consequently ERA became a 68% subsidiary of North Limited, and this holding was taken over by Rio Tinto Ltd in 2000. In 1998 Cameco took over Uranerz, eventually giving it 6.69% of ERA, and Cogema took over other customer shares, giving it (now Areva) 7.76%.
Late in 2005 there was a rearrangement of ERA shares which meant that Cameco, Cogema and a holding company (JAURD) representing Japanese utilities lost their special unlisted status and their shares became tradable. The three companies then sold their shares, raising the level of public shareholding to 31.61%.

Production and Sales: 

The mine started operating in 1980. Full production was in October 1981 at a rate of about 3300 tonnes per year of uranium oxide concentrate. Ranger #1 open pit was mined out over 1980-94, then pit #3 over 1997-2012. The run of mine stockpile then comprised 1.4 Mt of ore at average 0.165% U3O8, which was treated by mid-2013. With other surface stockpiled ore averaging 0.12% U3O8  there is enough to last to 2020 if market conditions are favourable, or at least to 2016 when underground mining is planned to commence. However, annual production diminished from 2012 as progressively lower grade material is processed at a constant mill rate of about 2.4 Mt/yr. It is envisaged the lowest grade material might be blended with high-grade ore from underground from 2016.

Ranger Mine
Uranium recovery ranges up to 93%.
 Ranger Production

Until 1990 all ERA sales of uranium concentrate were from Ranger production. Over several years the spot price of uranium concentrates was below the cost of production at Ranger, which made it advantageous over 1990-97 for ERA to purchase supplies from third parties. In 1994 the level of 1510 tonnes just exceeded that year's mine production. Further purchases were made 2001-05. The third party concentrates concerned mostly came from Kazakhstan. In 2011 ERA purchased 2126 t U3O8 to meet its sales commitments, including 1636 tonnes for actual 2011 sales. In 2012 about 500 t was purchased (387 t to end June). ERA sales are mostly under contracts with customers who are prepared to pay a price premium for long-term security of supply.
In 2013 production at Ranger was 2690 tonnes of U3O8 (2510 tU), curtailed due to closure of the treatment plant after a leach tank failed in December. (NB ERA reports drummed production, whereas Rio Tinto reports Ranger figures on a slightly different basis.) Operations resumed in June 2014, but no product was drummed in that half year, and only 1165 t U3O8 (988 tU) was produced in the full year. Mill head grade in 2014 was 0.11% with recovery 81.5%.
All ERA uranium oxide sales are to energy utilities in Japan, South Korea, China, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United States under international and bilateral safeguards regulations. ERA supplied about 5% of the world's uranium production in 2012. Asia is a particularly important market, with most of the company's premium priced contracts there supplied from Ranger.
In 2008 total energy consumption was 1457 TJ, for production of uranium 2264 PJ (@ 500 TJ/t used in conventional reactor), ie 0.064% of output.  CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions were 155,0000 t.

Ranger 2005
Ranger treatment plant, with mine pit beyond


Following crushing, the ore is ground and processed through a sulfuric acid leach to recover the uranium. The pregnant liquor is then separated from the barren tailings and in the solvent extraction plant the uranium is removed using kerosene with an amine as a solvent. The solvent is then stripped, using an ammonium sulphate solution and injected gaseous ammonia. Yellow ammonium diuranate is then precipitated from the loaded strip solution by raising the pH (increasing the alkalinity), and removed by centrifuge. In a furnace the diuranate is converted to uranium oxide product (U3O8).

Reserves & Resources:

The Ranger 1 orebody, which was mined out in December 1995, started off with 17 million tonnes of ore some of which is still stockpiled. The Ranger 3 nearby is slightly larger, and open pit mining of it took place over 1997 to 2012.
In 1991 ERA bought from Pancontinental Mining Ltd the richer Jabiluka orebody (briefly known as North Ranger), 20 km to the north of the processing plant and with a lease adjoining the Ranger lease. ERA was proposing initially to produce 1000 t/yr from Jabiluka concurrently with Ranger 3. The preferred option involved trucking the Jabiluka ore to the existing Ranger mill, rather than setting up a new plant, tailings and waste water system to treat it on site as envisaged in an original EIS approved in 1979. However, all these plans are now superseded – see Australia's Uranium Deposits and Prospective Mines paper.

Ranger Ore Reserves and Resources, 31/12/14
 Grade U3O8
Contained U3O8
Ranger stockpile 0.123 6,206
Total reserves 0.123 6,206
Mineralised stockpile resources 0.05 17,844
Measured resources in situ (Deeps) 0.32 8,922
Indicated resources in situ (Deeps) 0.28 17,366
Inferred resources 0.25 8,579
Total resources 0.10 52,711
Note: figures are based on a 0.02% cut off for open pit resources, and 0.15% for underground resources (Ranger 3 Deeps). Resources are additional to reserves. A large reduction in resources in 2012 was due to reclassifying in-situ low grade ores from Mineral Resources to Mineralised Inventory as pit 3 is backfilled, sterilizing the large pit shell resource. 

In the Ranger 3 Pit and Deeps the upper mine sequence consists of quartz-chlorite schists and the lower mine sequence is similar but with variable carbonate (dolomite, magnesite and calcite). The primary ore minerals have a fairly uniform uranium mineralogy with around 60% coffinite, 35% uraninite and 5% brannerite. In weathered and lateritic ores the dominant uranium mineralogy is the secondary mineral saleeite with lesser sklodowskite.
In the second half of 2008 a $44 million processing plant was commissioned to treat 1.6 million tonnes of stockpiled lateritic ore with too high a clay content to be used without this pre-treatment. Following initial treatment the treated ore is fed into the main plant, contributing 400 t/yr U3O8 production for seven years. A new $19 million radiometric ore sorter was commissioned at the same time, to upgrade low-grade ore and bring it to sufficient head grade to go through the mill. It will add about 1100 tonnes U3O8 to production over the life of the mine, and be essential for beneficiating carbonate ore from the lower mines sequence of the Ranger 3 Deeps.
A feasibility study into a major heap leach operation for 10 Mt/yr of low-grade ore showed the prospect of recovering up to 20,000 t U3O8 in total. Column leach trials were encouraging, yielding extractions of greater than 70% at low rates of acid consumption. The facility would consist of fully lined heaps of material about 5m high and covering about 60-70 ha. These will be built and removed on a regular cycle and the residues stored appropriately after leaching is completed. The acid leach solutions would be treated in a process similar to that used in the existing Ranger plant and recycled after the uranium is removed from the pregnant liquor. ERA applied for government (including environmental) approval for the project, which was expected to begin operation in 2014, but in August 2011 ERA announced that the plan was shelved due to high capital costs and uncertain stakeholder support. As a result, ore reserves of 7,100 tonnes of uranium oxide were reclassified as resources.
In 2006 the projected operating life of the Ranger plant was extended to 2020 due to an improvement in the market price enabling treatment of lower grade ores, and in 2007 a decision to extend the operating Ranger 3 open pit at a cost of $57 million meant that mining there continued to 2012. However, reassessment of the low-grade stockpile in 2011 resulted in downgrading reserves by 6100 t U3O8. The #3 pit is now being backfilled, and to mid-2014, 31 million tonnes of waste material had been moved there. It will then be used as a tailings dam.

Ranger 3 Deeps

By November 2008 ERA had defined the Ranger 3 Deeps mineralisation target in the range of 15 to 20 million tonnes, and this has been confirmed as containing 34,000 tonnes of uranium oxide reported in the figures above. The mineralised zone has a strike length so far identified of about 1.2 kilometres between 250 and 550 metres from the surface, immediately east of the pit, and remains open to the north. Following regulatory approval in 2011, ERA awarded a A$50 million contract to McMahon Holdings for establishing a boxcut near pit 3 and 2.2 km decline in preparation for its own further drilling program. The decline reached a depth of 500 metres, and was built to handle eventual production. Work began in May 2012 and it was completed at the end of 2014, on schedule and on budget. 
In June 2012 ERA approved spending A$57 million on a pre-feasibility study of the project to 2014, including 16,000 m of drilling. In January 2013 ERA applied for environmental approval of the Ranger 3 Deeps exploration decline project. In total the company planned to spend A$120 million on the project, plus a $57 million prefeasibilty study, leading towards a decision to mine early in 2015. About half the tailings from the underground ore will be returned there, and the mine footprint will shrink from 68 ha for pit 3 to 2 ha for the decline. In October 2014 the company lodged a draft EIS for the mine project, targeting first production at the end of 2015.
In June 2014 the company announced an update of resources in Ranger 3 Deeps after two-thirds of the drilling program was completed. A total of 32 km of drilling had been undertaken, and the decline reached 2221 metres from the surface. Total resources were 32,620 tonnes U3O8 averaging 0.274% grade at 0.15% cut-off, two-thirds in the upper mine sequence and one-third in the lower, which has higher carbonate levels. The pre-feasibility study (PFS) will be considered by the Board early in 2015.
ERA plans to complete processing by Jan 2021 and complete $640 million site rehabilitation by 2026; these dates are not flexible, so prima facie will need to include all underground mining and treatment of any other ore (e.g. northern deposits on the Ranger lease).

Occupational Health & Safety: 

Radiation doses received by employees are all well below recommended limits. The designated employees (most exposed to radiation) received an average dose of 1.3 millisieverts per year above natural background in 2008 compared with the recommended annual limit of 20 mSv averaged over 5 years. In first half of 2007 the maximum dose to any person was 3.9 mSv, hence less than 8 mSv/yr.
ERA’s occupational safety and health management systems are certified to AS4801. In 1994 ERA was the first Australian mine to be awarded a 5-star rating by the National Safety Council, putting it in the top 5% of all industry occupational health and safety performance.


Along with building other infrastructure used by the public, the Company set up the town of Jabiru nearby. While it was initially envisaged that this would be solely a mining town, it has become an important regional centre for tourism and government services, including management of the National Park. Some 200 000 tourists visit the area each year.

Environmental Management

ERA has been recognised for its world-class environmental management, achieving ISO 14001 certification in 2003.
Until 1996 tailings from the treatment plant were emplaced in an engineered dam on the lease. They were then deposited into the worked out #1 pit, and later to the tailings dam which was raised from RL 36 m to RL 60.5 m. No process or other contaminated water is released from the site, but concerns were raised about seepage from the tailings dam, and in 2009 the Supervising Scientist estimated this at 100 m3/day. Consequently the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation negotiated an independent hydrological review of the situation which resulted in many (79) more monitoring bores being established and a greatly improved seepage model. This will provide helpful data for the rehabilitation of the tailings area by 2026.
The Ranger mine is on a 7860 hectare lease which is surrounded by the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park of 1.98 million hectares. About 500 hectares is actually disturbed by the mining and milling activities (0.025% of the total area).
Rainfall is monsoonal, with 700-2200 mm (average 1540 mm) falling in the wet season. The vegetation at Ranger is tropical open eucalypt forest, similar to much of the National Park.
The project area is leased from the Aboriginal traditional owners, title to the land being held by the Kakadu Land Trust. The Company contributes 4.25% of its gross sales revenue (the major part of its royalties of 5.5%) to NT aboriginal groups plus an annual rental of $200 000 for the use of the land. Ranger has paid a total of $345 million to aboriginal interests, including royalties, since the project began in 1980, in addition to jobs and community and social contributions. The royalty money is paid to the Commonwealth Government and then distributed to Northern Territory-based Aboriginal groups, including 30% to the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (representing Traditional Owners), under the 1979 terms of the Commonwealth's Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act of 1976. Additional payments of over $7 million are on account of Jabiluka. The balance of royalty (1.25% of revenue) is paid to the NT government by the Commonwealth Government.
The Company has a substantial environmental division, employing about 30 people and with an annual budget of nearly A $3 million. Part of this environmental effort is directed to land management issues of relevance not simply to Ranger, but to the surrounding National Park and World Heritage area. These include maintenance of biodiversity, fire management including control burning (which is very important and contentious in the region), terrestrial and aquatic weed control, feral animal control, mycorrhizal establishment, and rehabilitation of disturbed areas (including rock waste dumps, etc). Ranger is possibly the first mining operation deliberately to burn its own revegetated areas to assist the development of an appropriate vegetation community (Eucalypts and Grevilleas instead of Acacia dominance). Related issues being studied include artificial wetland filters, soil formation from waste rock, and hydrology.
Among Ranger's long term research priorities are projects which are relevant to eventual use of the land by its aboriginal owners.
ERA's success in environmental management has given rise to a consultancy, Earth Water Life Sciences, which gained significant business based on Ranger's environmental reputation.
Notwithstanding any results that may come from the ongoing exploration program, the company developed its plans for mine closure early in its history. A mine closure model has been prepared, and circulated to stakeholders, resulting in an estimate of the technical, environmental, social and other costs, through to final closure on both the Ranger project area and surrounds. This closure model is now the subject of review and refinement internally and with stakeholders.  This model, which is progressively refined, has been used as the basis for calculating the financial provision required for eventual closure at the end of mine life. At the end of 2005 the net present value of the closure model for the Ranger project area and surrounds was estimated at A$186 million, fully provided for in the balance sheet.  In mid 2011 the provision for rehabilitation and closure had grown to $550 million, with detailed studies continuing into 2012. In 2013 the estimate was $640 million.

In 2013 ERA was carrying out a $23 million prefeasibility study on an integrated tailings, water and closure strategy, work on which was ready to commence. Some 10 Mt backfill had been placed into pit 3 by mid 2013, and the company will dredge the tailings dam and send 4.4 Mt /yr to pit 3 from 2015, with the remainder of low-grade ore after 2020. Waste rock will be used as capping. Much of the cost of rehabilitation is a $220 million brine concentrator to clean up tailings water for discharge, using heat. It produces a brine (at pH 1.8 and TDS 400,000 ppm) retained in pit 3 which is retained in pit 3, and 1.83 GL/yr of clean water, and was commissioned in September 2013.
ERA, separately, is obliged to secure funds for certain costs of rehabilitation in case of any need for premature closure. An annually amended plan is submitted to government outlining this provision, which is reviewed by an independent auditor. Money for this purpose is partly in a trust fund administered by the Commonwealth government and partly covered by bank guarantee. At the end of 2008, security of $149 million was held by the Commonwealth Government in respect to Ranger, and a further $1 million for Jabiluka. 
See also ERA website.

Olympic Dam 

The Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine, with the town of Roxby Downs, is located 560 km north of Adelaide, near the opal mining centre of Andamooka. This is an arid part of Australia, receiving only an average of only 160 mm of rain per year, and that rather unreliably. The massive deposit is underground, some 350 metres below the surface, and besides its primary significance as a copper orebody, it is the largest known uranium orebody in the world.


The deposit was discovered in 1975 by Western Mining Corporation Ltd which was looking for copper in buried sedimentary rocks. After considering geophysical data a drill hole was sunk near a small stock water dam known as Olympic Dam. It struck copper, and later drilling confirmed a resource of more than 2000 million tonnes of ore containing both copper and uranium. From 1979 the deposit was evaluated as a Joint Venture with British Petroleum Ltd. In 1985 it was decided to proceed with the project, and production commenced in 1988.
WMC (Olympic Dam Corporation) Pty Ltd is the management company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BHP Billiton Limited, which took over WMC Resources in mid-2005. Initially BP Minerals Ltd was a 49% partner in the enterprise, but WMC took over BP Minerals' share in 1993 for $315 million.
Over 1996-99 WMC undertook a A$ 1.25 billion program to more than double annual production to 200,000 tonnes copper and 3700 tonnes uranium concentrate (from 1500 tonnes). This expansion program was then accelerated, with the cost eventually rising to A$ 1.94 billion and the uranium capacity to 4600 tonnes U3O8 per year (which later declined to 4100 t/yr with decreasing grades).

OD Expansion: WMC plans

Before the mid-2005 takeover by BHP Billiton, WMC Resources committed A$ 50 million over two years to assess the potential for doubling the size of Olympic Dam and in particular to take the resource categorisation of the southern orebody through to proven reserves and thus demonstrate the viability of a much expanded operation – up to 15,000 t/yr U3O8 (with 500,000 t/yr copper). The capital cost involved was estimated as at least A$5 billion. Some $4 billion had already been invested in the mine by WMC, including $680 million over 2001-04, and in 2004 the mine generated A$ 1100 million in export income. The WMC study included drilling on the southern deposit and assessing mining options including possibly a massive open pit (3 km wide, 1 km deep) to access the orebody. Up to June 2007 over 2000 km of drilling has been involved in defining the orebody.  

OD Expansion: BHP open pit plans

BHP Billiton then made a fresh appraisal of the possibilities on the basis that the previous assessment of market potential was too conservative. A pre-feasibility study to decide among the development options, and a 4600-page draft environmental impact study, were completed in 2009. The EIS (summary p20) states:  "Drilling of the ore body undertaken by BHP Billiton since 2005 has more than doubled the resource estimate from 3.98 billion tonnes of total mineral resource to 8.34 billion tonnes.  At the same time, the expected demand and prices for the minerals means underground mining is no longer the preferred option for such a large ore body.  Consequently, open pit mining has become the most feasible option for mining more of the resource. Underground mining can extract only about 25% of the ore containing recoverable quantities of copper, uranium, gold and silver, while an open pit would extract up to 98% as large zones of lower-grade mineralisation that were uneconomical for underground mining can be profitably bulk mined." 

OD Expansion: BHP reduced smelting plans

In mid 2007 BHP Billiton proposed an alternative treatment strategy, which became part of the base case. This would involve exporting some product as copper concentrate rather than only refined copper, and hence exporting some uranium still contained in the copper concentrate. Because the Olympic Dam ore contains copper, uranium, silver and gold in close association, the common procedure of simply selling a copper concentrate with precious metals has not been viable, since some of the uranium would be in it, creating both processing and safeguards complications for the smelter operator. Most of the uranium is removed at the flotation stage when the copper sulfide is separated from the remainder of the ore, which is then tailings, and the main uranium recovery is from acid leaching of these tailings. Secondary uranium recovery is from acid leaching the copper concentrate, which then goes on to be smelted, containing about 45% copper and up to 0.15% uranium. At present smelting is done at Olympic Dam, followed by electro refining, and the further traces of uranium are recovered at these stages. 
The proposal then became to export much of the copper concentrate with enough uranium still present to require the application of safeguards, so that it was all accounted for. Hence smelting could only be undertaken in one of 36 countries with which Australia has a bilateral safeguards agreement, plus the heavy industry infrastructure required. China is the prime destination and could build dedicated facilities, as could Japan.
With eventually two thirds of the copper concentrate from the expanded Olympic Dam operation being exported as concentrate, up to 2000 tonnes of uranium would be involved annually. The major part of the uranium - about 14,400 t/yr, would be recovered and processed as at present (see below). This copper concentrate export strategy for the expanded production from Olympic Dam would diminish the investment cost of the expansion, since smelting and refining for most of the copper increment will not be required. The infrastructure needed at Olympic Dam to operate it - notably electricity - would also be less. A new smelter in China or Japan would be lower cost. However, unless it was owned and operated by BHP Billiton itself, there would be no flexibility in concentrate sales.
Plans for expansion of the mine would mean that 800,000 t/yr of copper concentrate derived from the higher-grade ore was smelted at site to produce 350,000 t/yr of refined copper product, and 1.6 million tonnes would be exported to be smelted in China or Japan to yield about 400,000 tonnes of refined copper. This lower-grade portion (mostly chalcopyrite – CuFeS2) would have up to 2000 t of uranium in it (not more than 15% of total U) to be recovered there. Total uranium production would then be 14,400 tU from the hydrometallurgical plant on site and 1700 tU from the exported concentrates, total 16,100 tU (19,000 t U3O8) per year. Gold production would be 25 tonnes per year. 

OD Expansion: BHP staged development plans

In October 2008, five stages of this expansion were defined, without specific timeline, and in May 2009 the time span of progressive development was estimated as about 11 years from 2010. The open pit would be developed over five years, removing overburden to expose the first part of the main orebody. Mining from it would then commence mid 2016, and the pit would continue to be developed.
The main metallurgical plant (concentrator) would be developed in three successive 20 Mt/yr stages from 2012. A new hydrometallurgical plant to treat the tailings from this would be developed in conjunction. The existing electro-refinery and smelter would be upgraded to continue processing ore from either the existing (and continuing) underground operation or the open pit.
The pit will eventually be 4.1 x 3.5 km, and 1000 m deep, and the waste rock storage about 67 square km to a height of 150 m. Tailings storage would extend the existing facility to about 40 sq km and 65 m high to take 58 Mt/yr.
Required infrastructure would include a 280 ML/day desalination plant (reverse osmosis) on Spencer Gulf, supplying 200 ML/day to the operation; much increased power provision by 650 MWe; a 105 km rail spur; a new airport; accommodation expansion at and near Roxby Downs. Some of the power increment – about 250 MWe – could eventually be met by a cogeneration plant harnessing waste heat from burning sulfur at the acid plant. Most of it would need to come either from the grid or a 600 MWe combined cycle gas turbine plant at Olympic Dam.
A draft Environmental Impact Study was released on 1 May 2009. Following feedback, a Supplementary EIS was submitted to government in December 2010 and government approval of the proposal was announced in October 2011. BHP Billiton moved the project to feasibility study stage in March 2011, but in August 2012 put the $28 billion project on hold while it investigated less-costly alternatives.

OD Expansion: BHP underground expansion and heap leach plans

In July 2014 BHP Billiton applied for government approval to build and operate a demonstration-scale heap leaching plant at Olympic Dam. Heap leaching has not previously been used for uranium ore in Australia (that at Rum Jungle over 1965-71 was for copper), though it is increasingly favoured for low-grade hard-rock uranium ores overseas. BHP-B uses it on a large scale at its Spence copper mine in Chile. Laboratory and pilot scale trials of the technique using run of mill ore from the existing operations have shown promising results to date. The company expects to start construction of the demonstration plant in the second half of 2015, with a three-year trial period starting in late 2016.

Some 36,000 tonnes of ore – about one day's current mine production – will be used in the trial. The ore will be crushed, placed on an impermeable leach pad and treated with sulphuric acid for 300 days. This is expected to recover most of the uranium, and with the help of bacteria, something like half of the copper. The uranium would then be removed from the pregnant liquor by solvent extraction, after which the copper would be removed electrolytically. This essentially reverses the present sequence where most of the uranium is recovered by acid leaching the mill tailings after copper sulphide flotation. Following the heap leaching, the depleted ore remaining will be further crushed, ground and put through a dedicated flotation plant on site to recover the rest of the copper as sulphide, which would then be smelted as at present for all production.
In a general announcement about productivity in November 2014, BHP Billiton flagged a 27% increase in copper production at Olympic Dam from 2018 by streamlining haulage and treatment, and a doubling from that level subsequently by “a low-risk underground expansion with significantly lower capital intensity than the previous open cut design. This has the potential to deliver over 450,000 tonnes of copper production a year at first quartile C1 costs by the middle of next decade.” The uranium implications are not mentioned, but assuming the same head grades, it would mean 5000 t U3O8 from 2018 and some 10,000 t/yr in mid-2020s.

Olympic Dam Aerial

Production and Sales: 

Olympic Dam is an underground mine. Some 12 million tonnes of ore is mined each year by open stoping.
In 2001 the plant suffered a fire in the solvent extraction plant and production remained low for two years. In October 2009, the haulage system in the mine's Clark Shaft was damaged. While hoisting continued at the secondary Whenan Shaft, capacity was reduced to about 25% until full production resumed in June 2010.
In 2013 production was 4008.7 tonnes U3O8 (3399 t UOC, 3386 tU) – about 6% of world mine total. Uranium recovery has been 65-70%, due to about half of the uranium being in the form of refractory brannerite, and this is a focus for improvement, with 72.8% recovery being achieved in 2008.
Sulfur dioxide from the copper minerals is made into acid and used in uranium processing.

Olympic Dam Uranium Production
Sales figures are understood to be close to the production figures.
About 20% of the revenue is from uranium, 75% from copper and 5% gold and silver.

Sales of uranium concentrate are made under long-term contracts to electric utilities in Canada, USA, Japan, South Korea, China, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom.


Following primary crushing underground, the ore is ground and treated in a copper sulphide flotation plant. About 80% of the uranium minerals remain in the tailings from the flotation cells, from which they are recovered by acid leaching. The copper concentrate is also processed through an acid leach to recover much of the other 20% of the uranium. The pregnant liquor is then separated from the barren tailings and in the solvent extraction plant the uranium is removed using kerosene with an amine as a solvent. The solvent is then stripped, using an ammonium sulphate solution and injected gaseous ammonia. Yellow ammonium diuranate is then precipitated from the loaded strip solution by raising the pH, and removed by centrifuge. In a furnace the diuranate is converted to uranium oxide product, U3O8.
Some uranium remains in the leached copper concentrate which goes to be smelted, and it is recovered in the smelting or electro refining stages.


The deposit occurs in the basement rocks of the Stuart Shelf geological province in the north of South Australia. Mineralisation consists of medium-grained chalcopyrite (CuFeS2), bornite (Cu5FeS4) and chalcocite (Cu2S), fine-grained disseminated pitchblende and brannerite (U minerals), gold, silver and rare earth minerals that occur in a magnetic hydrothermal breccia complex beneath 350m of overburden. The ore occurs in distinct zones that determine the mine access and layout. (mining-technology.com & infomine)

Reserves & Resources: 

Olympic Dam has enormous reserves of ore, with 347,000 tonnes of contained uranium oxide. The overall resource contains some 2.45 million tonnes of uranium oxide in a hematite breccia complex. While the grade of the uranium ore is lower than many mines or potential mines which have the benefit of open cut operation, the fact that copper is a co-product with uranium from that same ore (at 1.8% Cu in the reserves) means that such grades are viable.
Olympic Dam Uranium Ore Reserves and Resources at 30/6/12
  Ore or Resource
(million tonnes)
Grade U3O8
Contained U3O8
(tonnes) calculated
Proved Ore Reserves 161 0.059 94,990
Probable Ore Reserves 469 0.056 236,590
Total Reserves 629 0.057 358,530
Measured Resources 1474 0.030 442,200
Indicated Resources 4843 0.027 1,307,610
Inferred Resources 3259 0.023 749,570
Total Resources 9576 0.026 2,490,000

NB. Resources inlcude Reserves. Quoted metallurgical recovery from reserves is 72%.

The figures announcing a 27% increase in uranium resources, to 2.24 million tonnes of uranium oxide (1.9 MtU) in September 2007 were based on 2095 km of drilling over the previous two years and confirmed the deposit as the world's largest for uranium. It covers an area of over 6 km by 3.5 km, is up to 2 km deep and remains open laterally and at depth as the drilling program continues, further results being reflected in the above Table.

Occupational Health & Safety:

The mine is well ventilated with powerful fans so that radiation exposure from radon daughters is very low. Exposure from gamma radiation is also minimal, due to the low grade of uranium mineralisation. The average annual radiation exposure level (over the 1.5 mSv/yr background) for all designated underground workers in 1999-2000 was 1.7 millisieverts (ranging up to 9.9 mSv). These levels compare very favourably with the annual limit of 20 mSv/yr averaged over five years.
The site has implemented a Safety Management System which is compliant to Level 3 Exempt Status under the state occupational safety organisation, and this has been officially recognised.


Expansion of the mine will bring major infrastructure challenges.  The present 12 GL/yr water consumption (met from the Great Artesian Basin) will grow, possibly to 70 GL/yr, requiring a coastal desalination plant with pipeline to Olympic Dam.  The operation now uses 10% of the state's base-load power (870 GWh/yr) and the expansion will add demand for another 650 MWe and 4400 GWh/yr, the source of which remains to be determined.  The CO2 output from power generation attributable to the operation is likely to grow from 0.9 to some 4.7 Mt/yr.

Environmental Management

The mine lease of 18,000 hectares is managed by BHP Billiton Olympic Dam. The mine, smelter and infrastructure occupy about 7.5% of the lease area. Environmental management activities account for approximately one third of expenditure from the overall environmental budget, which is in excess of A$ 2 million. In February 2005, Olympic Dam was successful in obtaining ISO14001 certification for the site Environmental Management System.
The mine lease and the adjacent 11,000 hectare municipal lease have been destocked (of sheep and cattle) since 1986. Following the release of rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD), rabbit numbers in the region dropped significantly, and are currently at approximately 40 per square kilometre, compared with plague numbers of up to 600 /km2 in the late 1980s. Red Kangaroo numbers on the mine lease are about 20 per square kilometre, which is slightly higher than surrounding areas because of the access to water. In order to discourage wildlife from entering the tailings storage facility, alternative waterholes have been provided and deterrents installed on the dams and ponds. The evaporation ponds have been fenced with fine mesh to exclude small mammals and reptiles. Foxes and cats are controlled on the lease by shooting and trapping.
BHP Billiton Olympic Dam manages four pastoral stations in the area surrounding the mine and municipal leases with a total area of 1,136,000 hectares. These properties are conservatively stocked to maximise protection of sites of environmental or cultural significance.
The Arid Recovery project, which covers an area of 8,600 hectares, is situated largely on the mine lease and BHP Billiton-operated pastoral stations, with the remaining area (6 hectares) donated by local pastoralists. Arid Recovery is an ecosystem restoration initiative working to restore Australia's arid lands. The program is a partnership between BHP Billiton, the South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage, the University of Adelaide and the community group Friends of Arid Recovery. The reserve is surrounded by a unique cat, rabbit and fox-proof fence. Five locally extinct species have been reintroduced into the reserve.
Before clearing is undertaken for any development work or exploration on the mine and municipal leases, an Environmental/Indigenous Heritage Clearance Permit is required. During this process, all significant slow-growing trees and shrubs and areas of cultural significance are identified. Efforts are made to minimise disturbance caused by operational activity on the leases, and rehabilitation is undertaken afterwards where practical. Considerable attention has been given to rehabilitation of the hundreds of drill pads, some dating from initial exploration, so that many are now scarcely visible even on aerial photos.
Rock waste and the coarse fraction of tailings are used as mine backfill. Fine tailings material, still containing potentially valuable minerals (rare earths etc.) is emplaced in tailings dams on the lease covering about 400 hectares.
During 1994 seepage of contaminated water from the tailings dams was identified. This was of concern to the company, the regulators and the public because of the perceived threat to the quality of groundwater immediately below the tailings dams. Studies undertaken demonstrated that the pollutants in the seepage were quickly adsorbed on to clays and limestone in the soil and rock under the tailings dams, and, due to the low permeability and transmissivity of the rock, that there was no potential harm to the groundwater resource. The level of the groundwater under the tailings dams is monitored and modelled on a quarterly basis.
BHP Billiton Olympic Dam submits an Environmental Management and Monitoring report annually to the Department of Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA) and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). This comprehensive report covers all areas of potential environmental impact, including air emissions, site groundwater management, water supply and management of the Great Artesian Basin, flora and fauna monitoring and annual radiation dose to members of the public. Reporting on progress with action items identified in the Environmental Management Program is provided, as well as involvement with community activities.
The annual Sustainability Report is on the web
Olympic Dam has a Rehabilitation and Closure Plan covering cost estimate basis, summary of closure requirements (for the metallurgical facilities, pilot plant, mine, tailings dams, wellfields, exploration areas, town facilities, power line corridor and miscellaneous facilities), community consultation requirements, closure strategy (including post operational land use objective and completion criteria) and closure plan review requirements. The plan provides a breakdown for each area to be decommissioned, including engineering works required (ie demolition and cleaning), environmental works (removal of contaminated material and rehabilitation), specific closure obligations for each area of plant, final land use objectives, closure assumptions, closure material sources, waste disposal sites, cost saving opportunities and liabilities/risks/hazards.
Demolition costs are budgeted based on quotations from a specialist demolition contractor and rehabilitation costs are estimated based on a quotation from a mining contractor with extensive rehabilitation experience. Progressive closure costs have been estimated for each year until actual closure of the site. The financial provision – A$ 244 million at mid-2006 – is calculated in line with BHP Billiton Accounting Standards.

Beverley and Four Mile

Over 2013-14 the scene has changed here, with Beverley and then Beverley North suspending production, and after January 2014 all production coming from Four Mile.
The Beverley uranium deposit is 520 kilometres north of Adelaide, on the plains north-west of Lake Frome and 25 kilometres north east of the Arkaroola Resort in the northern Flinders Ranges. Beverley North is contiguous. Beverley itself is a relatively young sandstone deposit with uranium mineralisation leached from the Mount Painter region, and was the basis of Australia's first commercial in situ leach (ISL) operation. In 2008 a major mine lease extension was obtained to the north so that the lease is now contiguous with the Four Mile lease to the north and west of it.

History and Background:

Beverley was discovered in 1969 by the OTP Group (Oilmin NL, Transoil NL, & Petromin NL). A draft EIS was produced in 1982 but plans to mine it by in situ leaching (ISL) were abandoned in 1983 when a newly-elected South Australian Government made it clear that mining leases would not be approved. The deposit was sold to Heathgate Resources Pty Ltd, an affiliate of General Atomics of USA, in 1990.
The main Beverley deposit consists of three mineralised zones (north, central and south) in a buried palaeochannel (the Beverley aquifer) in tertiary sediments of the Frome basin. Groundwater salinity ranges from 3000 mg/L total dissolved solids in the north to 12,000 mg/L TDS in the south. The aquifer is isolated from other groundwater, notably the Great Artesian Basin about 150 metres below it and small aquifers in the Willawortina Formation above, which are used for stock watering. 
A field leach trial in 1998 was successful, with performance three times better than similar deposits in USA, and it established the commercial viability of the project.  A new draft EIS was released for public comment in July 1998 and the Supplement in October, with environmental approval being given in March 1999. Other approvals were in April 1999. Mine construction started in 1999, including processing plant, camp, airstrip, 4.0 MWe gas-fired power station and two wellfields.
As the main orebodies became depleted, in 2009 the Beverley North project was initiated and in 2010 a field leach trial at Pepegoona was successful. This became a satellite operation, with loaded resin being trucked to the treatment plant. In 2011 mining commenced at Pannikin, with a second satellite plant. These northern orebodies are closer to the Flinders Ranges and more complex geologically than the main palaeochannel deposits. The satellite plants are on the lease boundary with the Four Mile JV with Alliance Resources. In December 2013 production from the Beverley wellfields was suspended, leaving only Beverley North operational for Heathgate, but this too was suspended in January 2014.
Four Mile comprises two deposits 5-10 km NW of the Beverley mine and was explored by Quasar Resources Pty Ltd (a subsidiary of Heathgate Resources). The extended Beverley mine lease is contiguous. Alliance Resources Ltd through subsidiary Alliance Craton Exploration (ACE) is a 25% free carried joint venture partner. The West deposit has 14,000 t indicated resources and 4700 t inferred resources, at 0.34%, and the East deposit has 13,000 tonnes at 0.31% inferred resources, making a total of 32,000 t U3O8 at 0.33% (27,100 tU at 0.28%U). Both deposits remain open, with potential for further resource upgrade. They are about 3 km apart. 
Quasar applied for a mining lease in May 2008. An environmental assessment was published in January 2009. The mining lease was subject to registration of a Native Title Mining Agreement (NTMA), which was delayed, but a 10-year mining lease was granted to the partners in April 2012, and environmental approval in August 2013. Quasar commenced mining the East orebody in April 2014, using its nearby Pannikin satellite plant 2.5 km away, and then trucking the loaded resin to Heathgate’s main plant 10 km away for product recovery.
Quasar has been drilling a further area on Alliance's lease, at Four Mile Northeast, centred some 1200 metres northeast of the East orebody and close to Heathgate’s Pannikin satellite plant. This is highly prospective, but no JORC-compliant figures are yet available. 
Quasar has used its 75% interest to dictate development policy and timing for Four Mile. Alliance has dissented and taken legal action, but in June 2014 Alliance settled with Quasar, paying out $4.557 million for costs. Alliance contends that a separate treatment plant for Four Mile would be better economically than paying Heathgate to process the loaded resin. In May 2012 Alliance had entered an agreement with Itochu Corporation to take a 14.9% share in the company and then possibly 25.1% more. If both options were exercised the company would have been able to fund a stand-alone ISL operation at Four Mile, independently of Heathgate and the toll treatment at Beverley. Itochu taking up the equity was contingent upon restoration of Alliance’s full ownership of the deposit, which did not happen. In July 2014 Alliance solicited bids to buy its share of Four Mile.
For Beverley, Heathgate negotiated a royalty equivalent to 2% of gross sales with four Aboriginal Native Title Claimant groups, and the first payments totalling more than $100,000 were made to trust accounts in mid-2000. The agreements also provide for training, employment, community payments and administration payments.

Production and Sales:

Production from Beverley, licensed to reach 1180 t/yr U3O8 equivalent, commenced from the north mineralised zone in November 2000 though no product was drummed until 2001. Exports commenced in 2001. Production for 2004 reached 1084 tonnes U3O8 but then steadily dropped to around 400 tonnes from 2010 and in 2013, the last full year of operation involving the main orebodies, 98% of production was from Pepegoona and Pannikin on the Beverley North lease until production ceased there in January 2014. These Beverley North orebodies are adjacent to Four Mile. Sales contracts are with power utilities in USA.

Beverley Uranium Production
From Four Mile, Quasar expected to spend A$ 77 million, excluding any development of the West orebody. Cash operating costs (A$28) plus development costs to end of 2014 work out to about A$ 40/lb U3O8, with sale price expected to be A$ 49/lb. The production rate in mid-2014 was 1200 t/yr U3O8, which is about the capacity of the Beverley mill. In 2014, 755 t U3O8 was produced. The first two shipments of product (total 213 t U3O8) were in September and October 2014, to Cameco Blind River, and the balance was stockpiled.

For the 13 months from December 2014 through 2015 Quasar anticipates production of 1200 t U3O8 from Four Mile, which will all be stockpiled. Expenditure of $108 million is planned, including capital. Cash operating costs are budgeted at $32/lb plus development costs of $9, total $41/lb U3O8.
Due to Quasar’s refusal to sell product, thereby depriving Alliance of funds, ACE has refused to contribute to the 2015 program and budget. This means that ACE’s share of the project will reduce from 25% to about 15% by the end of 2015. In November 2014 ACE terminated Quasar's appointment as sales and marketing agent of ACE's share of Four Mile product and instituted proceedings in the Supreme Court of South Australia seeking a declaration that the termination is valid and to order that ACE's share of product be delivered up to ACE. In February 2015 Alliance received an offer from Quasar to purchase all of ACE’s interest in the Four Mile Project, including ACE’s share of uranium oxide concentrates already mined (worth over $20 million), for AUD $57.6 million. Alliance rejected the offer but remains open to selling ACE's interest in the project. 


At Beverley, several ore lenses in unconsolidated sands lie at a depth of 100-130 metres, over some 4 km of palaeochannel. The three initially mined contained at least 21,000 tonnes of uranium oxide at 0.18% grade, mostly recoverable by in situ leaching. In November 2006 the company applied to extend the mine lease to take in contiguous ground at Beverley North including Pepegoona (with 4000 t U3O8) and Pannikin. The cumulative total recovered from Beverley and Beverley North to shut-down in January 2014 was 8614 tonnes U3O8.
At Four Mile, the West deposit has 14,000 t indicated resources and 4700 t inferred resources, at 0.34%. Alliance in June 2009 confirmed 13,000 tonnes U3O8 at 0.31% inferred resources for the East deposit, making a total of 32,000 t U3O8 at 0.33% (27,100 tU at 0.28%U). A cut-off of 0.5 metres at 0.10 m% grade thickness (GT) was used for both resource estimates, assuming ISL mining.* Both deposits remain open, with potential for further resource upgrade. They are about 3 km apart. There are three mineralised layers between 190 and 210 metres deep, ranging from 1.1 to 7.3 metres thick and with grades up to 1.74% U3O8
* ISL resources are reported in terms of grade thickness (GT) – average grade U3O8 multiplied by thickness of leachable sand holding the uranium.
Some additional mineralization has been identified in the western area of Four Mile West, which has the potential to add up to 30% to that resource if this mineralization is proved recoverable by ISL, or mineable by other means.
For Four Mile Northeast, some 1200 metres northeast of the East orebody and close to Heathgate’s Pannikin satellite plant, Alliance has an exploration target of 32,000 to 36,500 t U3O8 grading 0.27-0.30% U3O8 over 2.2 km strike length, with a JORC-compliant inferred resource figure pending (24 Feb & 20 March 2015). The exploration target figure is for an area stretching from Four Mile East past Pannikin almost to Pepegoona, though the mineralisation is interpreted to lie within an apparent regional roll-front type redox interface that embraces the Four Mile West, Four Mile East, Pannikan and Pepegoona deposits over a total strike length of 7.5 km.


The mines consist of wellfields which are progressively established over the orebody as uranium is depleted from sections of the orebody immediately underneath. Wellfield design is on a grid with alternating extraction and injection wells, each of identical design and typical of normal water bores. The spacing between injection wells is about 30 metres with each pattern of four having a central extraction well. A series of monitor wells are situated around each mineralised zone to detect any movement of mining fluids outside the mining area.

Beverley Mine
Beverley wellfield
Submersible electric pumps initially extract native groundwater from the host aquifer prior to the addition of uranium complexing reagents (acid) and an oxidant (hydrogen peroxide or oxygen) before injection into the wellfield. The wells are cased to ensure that liquors only flow to and from the ore zone and do not affect any overlying aquifers. They are pressure tested before use. The leach liquors pass through the ore to oxidise and dissolve the uranium minerals in situ. The pregnant solution from the production wells is pumped to the treatment plant or satellite plant where the uranium is recovered in a resin ion exchange (IX) system. If at a satellite plant, the loaded resin is trucked to the central treatment plant.

ISL Diagram

The uranium is then stripped from the ion exchange resin, and precipitated with hydrogen peroxide. The uranium slurry is dewatered and dried to give hydrated uranium peroxide (UO4.2H2O) product.  From 2010 it was expected that the plant would also treat loaded resin trucked in from the Four Mile project adjacent to the Beverley North satellite operations. In fact, from 2011 it treated resin trucked from Pepegoona and Pannikin, further north than this, and 70m from the Four Mile lease boundary. In April 2014 it commenced recovery of uranium from the Four Mile JV, with the resin loaded at the Pannikin satellite plant.
Before the remaining process solution is reinjected, it is oxygenated and if necessary recharged with sulfuric acid to maintain a pH of about 2.0 to 3.0. Most of the solution is returned to the injection wells, but a very small flow (about 0.5%) is bled off to maintain a pressure gradient in the wellfield and this, with some solutions from surface processing, is treated as waste. It contains various dissolved minerals such as radium, arsenic and iron from the orebody and is reinjected into approved disposal wells in a depleted portion of the orebody. This bleed of process solution ensures that there is a steady flow into the wellfield from the surrounding aquifer, and serves to restrict the flow of mining solutions away from the mining area.

Beverley Plant
Beverley ISL processing plant

Occupational Health and Safety:

The usual radiation protection measures are applied, despite the fact that most of the orebody¹s radioactivity remains well underground and there is hence minimal increase in radon release and no ore dust. Designated employees wear personal dosimeters to measure exposure to gamma radiation and radon daughter concentration is measured regularly in the plant area. Routine monitoring of air, dust and surface contamination is also undertaken.

Environmental Management:

An Environmental Management and Monitoring Plan (EMMP) has been developed with the regulating authorities, who determined the requirements of it, including those for radiation protection. The Plan provides for ongoing management of every aspect of the operation. Monitoring to detect possible horizontal excursions from the mining zone or any vertical leakage into other aquifers is a fundamental facet of mine operations.
In contrast to the main ISL operations in USA extracting uranium from aquifers with potable water, the groundwater quality at Beverley is very low, being fairly saline and orders of magnitude too high in radionuclides for any permitted use to start with. Fluids from mined areas are progressively moved to new mining areas, thus reducing the overall effect on the aquifer. After completion of mining, when oxygen input and leaching are discontinued, the groundwater reverts to about pH 4.5, and then over time to its original condition at about pH 7.
Heathgate bought the 2350 sq km Wooltana pastoral lease, from which the 13.5 sq km project area is fenced off and destocked. This area, mainly Mitchell grass plain, will be allowed to rehabilitate naturally to guide later revegetation of mined areas.
Upon decommissioning a wellfield, wells are sealed and capped, pipes are removed and the surface revegetated progressively. At the end of the mine's life, process facilities will be removed and after discussion with the stakeholders the land can revert to its previous uses. Heathgate has provided financial guarantees to the state government in respect to ongoing mine site rehabilitation up to the final completion of mining.


The Honeymoon mine in South Australia was commissioned in 2011 with 340 t/yr U3O8 capacity. The deposit itself was discovered in 1972, about 75 kilometres north west of Broken Hill, 30 kilometres inside South Australia. MIM Holdings Ltd bought out CSR Ltd's 34.3% share in 1988.
The Honeymoon - East Kalkaroo deposit occurs in porous sand of the Yarramba palaeochannel at a depth of 100-120 metres and extending over about 150 hectares. Plans were developed in the late 1970s to extract the uranium oxide by in situ leaching (ISL), and some $12 million was spent in preparation. Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statements were produced, and both South Australian and Commonwealth environmental approval was subsequently obtained in 1981 for production to 450 t/yr U3O8. Field tests of the ISL process were carried out and a $3.5 million, 110 t/yr pilot plant was built, but the project was abandoned in 1983.
In 1997 Sedimentary Holdings NL reached agreement with MIM to acquire the Honeymoon leases next to its own East Kalkaroo deposit on the Yarramba palaeochannel. The 1997 agreement also included acquisition of the Gould Dam-Billaroo West leases 75 km northwest of Honeymoon. The 1997 agreement initially brought together known uranium resources of about 4200 tonnes U3O8 averaging 0.11% and amenable to in-situ leaching. The purchase was funded by Southern Cross Resources Inc. of Toronto. Sedimentary Holdings progressively reduced its share in Southern Cross and sold the last 7% in September 2004.

Aerial view of plant and infrastructure (wellfield is beyond at top left
Honeymoon aerial
Trial wellfield (extraction well is left of centre)
Well header building
HM 27
Inside well header building
Pilot plant
HM Pilot
Field leach trials using the refurbished process plant resumed in 1998 and led to a proposal to produce about 1000 t/yr U3O8 equivalent (as uranium peroxide) at low cost. A June 2000 draft EIS covered the Honeymoon - East Kalkaroo deposits on five Mineral Claims and approval of this was granted in November 2001.

Further drilling and logging with a prompt fission neutron (PFN) tool in 2004 confirmed high-grade resources which were reported in terms of grade thickness (GT) – average grade U3O8 multiplied by thickness of leachable sand holding the uranium. In the Honeymoon deposit itself 3300 t U3O8 at an average GT of 0.84 m% was confirmed, with 900 t U3O8 at an average GT of 0.38 m% in East Kalkaroo adjacent. The program failed to extend these resources, and further drilling and logging of nearby parts of the Yarramba palaeochannel immediately NW of Honeymoon in 2004 failed to confirm further resources.
In 2004 the company revised development plans down to a 400 tpa plant at Honeymoon, but development was deferred pending the outcome of further exploration at Gould's Dam. In December 2005 Southern Cross Resources was taken over by Aflease to form sxr Uranium One Inc. (The 'sxr' was later dropped.) Following a new feasibility study, in August 2006 Uranium One announced that development of Honeymoon would proceed as a 400 t/yr ISL mine. It quoted indicated resources then of 2900 tonnes U3O8 at 0.24% (av grade thickness 0.42 m%) excluding some thin low-grade material included in earlier estimates. The adjacent East Kalkaroo deposit had 900 tonnes at 0.074% grade. In January 2007 a ten-year export permit was granted.
In October 2008 Uranium One announced a joint venture with Mitsui (49%) to complete development of the project, with Mitsui paying $104 million towards the eventual $138 million cost. Similar joint ventures with Mitsui would apply to Gould Dam and Billeroo. In May 2012 Mitsui announced that it was withdrawing from the project. The parties negotiated the terms of Mitsui's withdrawal, regulatory approval was given during the third quarter of 2012, and Uranium One "recognised a gain of $17.2 million as a result of the transaction".
In December 2008 Uranium One announced an engineering, procurement, and construction management contract with Ausenco Ltd to build the mine. Total capital cost envisaged was A$ 118 million, including pulsed column solvent extraction circuit. A mine life of six years (including ramp-up) was expected. In 2011 capital expenditure of about $20 million comprised $10 million for wellfield development and $10 million for other construction activities and fixed asset purchases. Estimated capital expenditure for 2012 was $25 million.
Production: First production was in September 2011, with 45.4 t produced in 2011, and a ramp up to 400 t/yr U3O8 was planned. Production in 2012 was expected to be 275 tonnes U3O8, at $47/lb – much more than the company's average cost of production in Kazakhstan, but commissioning was drawn out and resulted in only 155t production. In 2013 production was 112 tonnes U3O8. Mitsui's A$ 104 million largely funded the commissioning. A February 2012 report quoted reserves of 2890 tonnes U3O8 at 0.08% and indicated resources of 5400 tonnes U3O8 at 0.129%.
Since 2009, 51.4% of Uranium One has been owned by Russia's ARMZ, but in 2012 ARMZ moved to buy out all the other shareholders. It now has full ownership. In November 2013 the company said it had “impaired the Honeymoon project due to continuing difficulties in the production process and issues in attaining design capacity, combined with high mine operation costs. The carrying value of Honeymoon was therefore written down by $67.8 million.” A week later it was announced that the mine would be closed pending improved uranium markets and put on a care and maintenance basis. Production ceased by the end of 2013.

1 komentar:

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    dan terima kasih banyak kepada AKI atas nomor togel.nya yang AKI
    berikan 4 angka [3398] alhamdulillah ternyata itu benar2 tembus AKI.
    dan alhamdulillah sekarang saya bisa melunasi semua utan2 saya yang
    ada sama tetangga.dan juga BANK BRI dan bukan hanya itu AKI. insya
    allah saya akan coba untuk membuka usaha sendiri demi mencukupi
    kebutuhan keluarga saya sehari-hari itu semua berkat bantuan AKI..
    sekali lagi makasih banyak ya AKI… bagi saudara yang suka main togel
    yang ingin merubah nasib seperti saya silahkan hubungi KI JAYA WARSITO,,di no (((085-342-064-735)))
    insya allah anda bisa seperti saya…menang togel 730 JUTA , wassalam.

    dijamin 100% jebol saya sudah buktikan...sendiri....

    Apakah anda termasuk dalam kategori di bawah ini !!!!

    1"Dikejar-kejar hutang

    2"Selaluh kalah dalam bermain togel

    3"Barang berharga anda udah habis terjual Buat judi togel

    4"Anda udah kemana-mana tapi tidak menghasilkan solusi yg tepat

    5"Udah banyak Dukun togel yang kamu tempati minta angka jitunya
    tapi tidak ada satupun yang berhasil..

    Solusi yang tepat jangan anda putus asah... KI JAYA WARSITO akan membantu
    anda semua dengan Angka ritual/GHOIB:
    butuh angka togel 2D ,3D, 4D SGP / HKG / MALAYSIA / TOTO MAGNUM / dijamin
    100% jebol
    Apabila ada waktu
    silahkan Hub: KI JAYA WARSITO DI NO: [[[085-342-064-735]]]