Peninsula Energy to restart Wyoming uranium operation

24 November 2022

The company's Board of Directors has made the financial investment decision that will see production activities begin at the Lance project during the first quarter of 2023, for delivery into existing offtake contracts in the final quarter of the year.  

The processing plant at the Ross permit area (Image: Peninsula)

Lance contains JORC-compliant resources totalling 53.7 million pounds U3O8 (20,565 tU), which the company said makes it one of the largest uranium production development projects in the USA. It last produced uranium in July 2019. At that time, the high-pH in-situ leach (ISL) method in use at the project was delivering lower than expected recoveries of uranium. Following studies and field trials carried out since then, it will return to operations using a low-pH recovery process. It is the only uranium ISL project situated in the USA that is fully permitted to use low-pH recovery.

"It is with a tremendous sense of excitement that we are advancing the Lance Projects back into production," said Wayne Heili, managing director and CEO of the Australia-based company. "Our team has put an enormous amount of work over recent years into the transition to a low-pH [ISL] operation and we will be confidently moving forward to production."

The investment decision is underpinned by an equity raise of AUD35 million (USD24 million), made up of a fully underwritten AUD32 million institutional placement and a non-underwritten AUD3 million share purchase plan. "Now, with this AUD35 million equity issue, the preparatory works that have already completed, and the commencement of restart works, we are on a clear pathway to production commencing in Q1 of 2023," Heili said.

ISL - also known as solution mining, or in situ recovery (ISR) - involves recovering minerals from a suitable orebody by dissolving them and pumping the pregnant solution to the surface where the minerals can be recovered. The choice of leaching solution - acidic or alkaline - depends on the geology of the ore: an acidic (low-pH) solution gives higher uranium recovery with lower operating costs than an alkaline leach, but cannot be used if significant quantities of acid-consuming minerals such as gypsum and limestone are present in the host aquifers.

The Lance projects include the Ross production area (where alkaline ISL operations took place from 2015 to 2019), the Kendrick project, which is to be the next production area, and the Barber resource area, which the company says holds inferred resources but is not fully delineated. Peninsula says it anticipates beginning a resource enhancement drilling programme within Kendrick, using funds from the placement, during 2023. It expects to file both licence and permit amendment applications this December to include Kendrick along with Ross in the fully licensed area of the Lance projects.

According to information from the US Energy Information Administration, only two uranium ISL plants - Lost Creek and Smith Ranch-Highland, both in Wyoming - were operating in the third quarter of 2022.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News