Feasibility study completed for Mauritania uranium mine

29 July 2019

A newly completed definitive feasibility study for the Tiris uranium project in Mauritania has confirmed low capital operating costs for the development, Australian company Aura Energy Limited has announced.

Drilling at Tiris (Image: Aura Energy)

The capital cost for the project is estimated at USD62.9 million, including the scope of facilities and services required to design, purchase and construct the entire project, up to practical completion and handover to operations. Total cash operating costs are estimated at USD25.43 per pound U3O8, with the all-in sustaining cost - which includes royalties, life-of-mine sustaining capital, insurances and   product transport - estimated at USD29.81 per pound U3O8. Average annual production of 823,000 pounds U3O8 (317 tU) over a 15-year mine life is envisaged.

Aura Executive Chairman Peter Reeve said the capital cost estimate, 85% of which was sourced from direct supplier quotes, was amongst the lowest all-in life-of-mine capital costs of any currently proposed uranium development project.

"The completion of the Tiris Uranium Project Definitive Feasibility Study has concluded that the project possesses both a very low capital development cost and a very low operating cost, and validates Aura's long held view that the Tiris Project is one of the most compelling uranium development projects in the world at the current time," he said.

Tiris, located in the Sahara Desert in northeast Mauritania, was first discovered by Aura Energy in 2008, and is the first major calcrete uranium discovery in the region. The project has a JORC-compliant resource of 52 million pounds U3O8, and a maiden reserve estimate of 8.1Mlb U3O8. Ore reserves are those portions of the mineral resource that are judged to technically and economically viable to extract. The mineralisation lies at largely lies within 3 to 5 metres of the surface, and will be mined using conventional open pit methods.

Vanadium also occurs in the Tiris ore at a grade of 330 ppm V2O5 - a similar concentration to the U3O8 -  and its recovery is considered to be technically achievable. Reeve identified vanadium recovery as one of several areas of "project upside", alongside potential for increases to reserves and resources, as well as optimisation across mining and processing areas.

"As such, Aura is confident that the operating team will be able to improve the project and financial outcomes in the production phase," he said.

Tiris is fully permitted for development - although some operating permits would be required - and construction-ready, the company said. It will now focus on securing the funding package for the project, as well as carrying out further optimisation work.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News