Areva, Mitsubishi explore Australia together

15 May 2012

France's Areva is teaming up with Japan's Mitsubishi to explore for uranium in Australia. The move could lead to the formation of a joint venture, should promising deposits be identified.

Areva subsidiary Afmeco Mining and Exploration (Afmex) will work with Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd (MDP) to conduct exploration "for several years across tens of thousands of square kilometres of Australia where little or no previous exploration has yet been undertaken."

MDP has agreed to cover the full cost of Afmex's exploration activities for several years up to an undisclosed predetermined amount. Once this limit is reached, and if MDF confirms its interest, Mitsubishi will have the option to acquire 49% of the uranium exploration permits held by Afmex for properties in Australia where uranium resources have not yet been identified. The partners could then also enter a joint venture, of which Afmex would hold 51% and MDP 49%. Afmex would manage the operations of the joint venture.

Areva recently stepped up its exploration efforts in Australia, where it has discovered several deposits since commencing exploration activities there in the 1970s. Afmex currently holds seven exploration licenses in the Curnamona basin area of South Australia, about 300 kilometres north of Adelaide, and has worked with other partners to carry out exploration activities in those properties. Work carried out to date has primarily consists of aerial geophysical campaigns: around 10,000 meters of rotary drilling is ongoing in the western part of the basin.

Olivier Wantz, Areva senior executive vice president in charge of mining activities said, "By joining forces through this partnership, Areva and Mitsubishi Corporation are gaining the means to develop Australia's very substantial uranium potential." He added, "We believe that exploitable low production cost deposits will be discovered there over the long term, hence our mutual commitment to financing such a large-scale exploration effort."

Areva's Koongarra subsidiary owns the uranium deposit of the same name, located some 250 kilometres east of Darwin in Northern Territory. Discovered in 1971, there is currently a moratorium on its development.

Areva also holds a share in the Valhalla uranium project in Queensland through its acquisition of a 10.5% stake in Summit Resources in 2007, when Paladin took an 82% stake in it.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News