Berkeley Nears Construction Start at Salamanca U3O8 Project

Berkeley Energia has completed key land acquisitions that will accelerate development of its 100% owned Salamanca uranium project in western Spain. The more than 500 ha of acquired land provides space for initial infrastructure and start of construction of the processing plant in the first quarter of 2017. First production is now scheduled for 2018. The Salamanca project will produce 4.4 million pounds per year (lb/y) of U3O8 in concentrates at cash costs of $15.39/ lb, making it one of the worldís lowest-cost producers of uranium. Pre-production capital costs are estimated at $95.7 million. Initial mine life is planned at 14 years.

Salamanca ore will be surface-mined and processed by heap leaching using onoff leach pads, followed by uranium recovery and purification by solvent extraction, ammonium diuranate precipitation, and calcination. Each of the long, shallow orebodies will be mined by conventional drill, blast, excavator, and truck methods, progressively lining and backfilling mined areas with waste and treated ore as mining progresses along the length of the orebody.

The Salamanca project feasibility study was based on measured and indicated resources totaling 59.8 million lb of U3O8 and did not incorporate any inferred resources, which total 29.6 million lb of U3O8. Potential exists to extend mine life by converting these inferred resources to indicated resources with further drilling. As of early December, Amec Foster Wheeler, which is carrying out the frontend engineering design for the Salamanca project, had made contractual enquiries for the key equipment for the crushing circuit, with the intention of completing purchase orders before the year end.

The Salamanca project is readily accessible by major roads and railways and is connected to the major sea port of Santander and to airports at Salamanca and Madrid. The project has major electrical power connections, plenty of water, and a strong demand for jobs in a region hit hard by unemployment. Training courses for future employees have been oversubscribed and enthusiastically attended. The area has previously experienced the economic benefits of mining, having supported Spainís main uranium mining industry from the 1970s until the last mine closed in 2001.

Spain currently has seven nuclear reactors, which generate one-fifth of the nationís electricity requirement. Production from the Salamanca mine will exceed Spainís current domestic demand for uranium by 30%.

As featured in Womp 2017 Vol 01 -