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(last updated 13 Nov 2012)
The following companies are performing uranium prospection and/or exploration in South Africa: Acclaim Exploration NL , Uranium One Inc., Simmer and Jack Mines Ltd, First Uranium Corp., Uramin Inc., Yellowcake PLC , Brinkley Mining Plc , Western Uranium Pty Ltd, Lonrho Africa Plc, Witwatersrand Consolidated Gold Resources Ltd. , DRDGold Limited, Mintails Ltd , Mineral & Mining Reclamation Services (Pty) Ltd, GoldStone Resources Ltd , Superior Mining International Corporation , Peninsula Energy Ltd , White Rivers Explorations, Urafields , African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation (AEMFC) , Batla Minerals SA , Paddy's Pad 1183 (Pty) Ltd.
White Rivers Explorations applied in 2008 for prospecting rights for coal, gold and uranium on about 80 farms in the area around and within the Vredefort Dome.
"It seems the Department of Minerals and Energy are going to allow prospecting on the boundaries," said Stephen de la Harpe, the chairperson of the Vredefort Dome Conservancy. "Our problem is not about prospecting so much, but if mining becomes a possibility, that will destroy the site."
The government looks set to proclaim the Vredefort Dome as a World Heritage Site by the end of 2009, putting an end to almost four years of wrangling between the state and private landowners over its protection. The Dome, near Parys, is believed to be the oldest and largest meteorite impact site on Earth, and became South Africa's seventh World Heritage Site in July 2005. (Saturday Star Feb. 14, 2009)
On Aug. 7, 2007, DRDGold Ltd announced 'encouraging' results from a recently completed drilling programme to define the uranium (U308) resource in its Blyvooruitzicht (Blyvoor) operation's slime dam material.
During the March quarter, 36 boreholes were drilled in Blyvoor's seven slimes dams, showing U3O8 concentrations in the range of 39 to 93 ppm [0.0033 - 0.0079% U]. Volumes of the slimes dams were surveyed and their total tonnage calculated at 107.7 million tonnes.
In addition, Blyvoor has sampled both its underground and slimes reclamation feeds over a period of 10 weeks. The surface feed averaged 0.073 kg/t U308 [0.0062% U], and the underground feed 0.070 kg/t U308 [0.0059% U].
Until 1981, Blyvoor extracted U308 as a by-product to its core gold production activities. It currently treats approximately 60,000 underground tonnes and 290,000 tonnes of surface material a month to recover gold.
On April 26, 2007, DRDGold Limited and Mintails Ltd announced that they had reached agreement on the formation of a joint venture company which is yet to be formed, in South Africa to explore, evaluate and potentially mine gold and uranium by opencast and underground mining methods in the Western Rand Goldfield of South Africa's Witwatersrand Basin.
The JV stakeholders DRDGOLD, Mintails SA (wholly owned by Mintails Limited) and Mineral & Mining Reclamation Services (Pty) Ltd (MMRS) have agreed to consolidate their West Rand Goldfield projects comprising Rand Leases, Durban Roodepoort Deep, East Champ D'Or, Luipaardsvlei and West Rand Consolidated (including West Wits). Initially, DRDGOLD and Mintails SA will hold 45% each in the JV and MMRS will hold 10%.
> See also: Study highlights environmental hazards from abandoned uranium trial mines in the Karoo Uranium Province
On Dec. 13, 2011, Areva announced the suspension of the Ryst Kuil uranium mine project. (AFP Dec. 13, 2011)
Uramin Inc. plans to build a uranium mine in the Karoo at a cost of $219 million (R1.6 billion). The company's new business and technical manager Keith Kenyon said that the Ryst Kuil project in the Karoo was likely to achieve an average output of 1745 tons a year of uranium oxide by the fourth quarter of 2009. (Business Report Mar. 30, 2007)
On March 13, 2007, UraMin Inc. announced that SRK Consulting (US) Inc. of Denver, Colorado has been appointed to undertake Consulting and Engineering Services for the completion of the Definitive Feasibility Study ("DFS") for the Ryst Kuil Project (including the Ryst Kuil, Riet Kuil and Tanqua properties) in the West Beaufort area of South Africa.
> See also: Study highlights environmental hazards from abandoned uranium trial mines in the Karoo Uranium Province
Tribunal dismisses appeal against water-use license for Buffelsfontein Mine Waste Solutions tailings project:
On Jan. 4, 2012, First Uranium Corporation announced "that it has received official notification that the South African Water Tribunal has dismissed the appeal lodged by the Federation for a Sustainable Environment ("FSE") against Mine Waste Solutions' Water Use Licence. The ruling vindicates the Company's decision to continue operating the Mine Waste Solutions project in accordance with the terms and conditions of its valid water use licence since the purported appeal was lodged in March 2011. The Water Tribunal found that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case and consequently the FSE had no legal standing to bring the appeal. As a result the Water Tribunal has closed its file on the matter."
On Feb. 1, 2012, First Uranium Corporation announced that the Federation for a Sustainable Environment is appealing the decision of the South African Water Tribunal.
First Uranium continues operation of Mine Waste Solutions tailings reprocessing project in spite of mining right withdrawal:
First Uranium has taken legal advice on the mining permit and water licence issues and production has continued unabated at Mine Waste.
First Uranium's legal advice was that tailings recovery projects do not fall under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, meaning the letter from Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu last month withdrawing the mining right at Mine Waste did not apply, Mr van der Mescht said.
The department could issue a closure or suspension notice for Mine Waste but First Uranium would embark on legal action to protect the operation, he said.
"Mine Waste Solutions must be subject to government regulations because there are environmental consequences for what it is doing," department spokesman Bheki Khumalo said. (Business Day Oct. 13, 2011)
Ministry withdraws mining right for Mine Waste Solutions tailings reprocessing project: On Sep. 16, 2011, First Uranium Corporation announced that it has received a letter from the South African Minister of Mineral Resources purporting to "withdraw" the new order mining right to Mine Waste Solutions ("MWS"), in terms of Section 23 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002.
Nuclear Regulator orders halt of tailings disposal at Mine Waste Solutions tailings project:
First Uranium suspended operations at its Mine Waste Solutions project in
South Africa on Monday (July 25), following an order from the country's
nuclear regulator over concerns about a pipeline at the
tailings reprocessing project.
The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) ordered First Uranium
to cease depositing materials at tailings storage facilities at
the operation, citing concerns over pipeline maintenance and
First Uranium said it is in "material compliance" with nuclear regulations and that it had sought an injunction allowing it to restart the project. The halt order has to do with the pipeline used to pump tailings material that has been reprocessed to extract gold and uranium into a new tailings storage facility, said company Vice-President Mary Batoff. (Reuters July 25, 2011)
On Aug. 2, 2011, First Uranium announced that it has received conditional permission from the National Nuclear Regulator to resume operations at its Mine Waste Solutions project.
Minister urged to act in Buffelsfontein Mine Waste Solutions tailings dam dispute:
A dispute between First Uranium subsidiary Mine Waste Solutions and environmental activists over a gold and uranium tailings recovery operation being built in the Vaal area may head to the courts soon if Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa does not say whether work on the plant should stop.
The Federation for a Sustainable Environment said yesterday (July 4) because the tailings dam was not lined with plastic it would let mine water seep into the immediate environment, including the Vaal River, which supplies water to SA's economic heartland. Sustainable Environment has accused Mine Waste Solutions of continuing work when the National Water Act stipulated its lodging of an appeal automatically suspended work. Sustainable Environment CEO Mariette Liefferink said the Department of Water Affairs had not properly exercised its discretion and had failed to take the cumulative effect on water resources and the sustainability of the mining project into account when it awarded Mine Waste Solutions a water-use licence. (Business Day July 5, 2011)
Commissioning of uranium recovery plant at Buffelsfontein Mine Waste Solutions tailings project may be postponed:
First Uranium may postpone the commissioning of its uranium plant at its tailings treatment business to conserve cash ahead of a convertible debenture that matures in June next year, CEO Deon van der Mescht said yesterday (June 6).
The postponement is designed to keep as much cash on the company's books ahead of the maturation of the debenture, he said.
First Uranium, which is primarily a gold producer at this point, is ramping up production at Mine Waste Solutions (MWS), which has three gold modules treating tailings material to the west of Johannesburg. The MWS uranium plant, which is largely complete, was to be commissioned around September this year, but this could be pushed back to around the middle of next year, Mr van der Mescht said. Feeding into the decision whether to defer the commissioning are the low uranium prices, which have been fallen because of developments in the nuclear industry stemming from the earthquake hit Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. (Business Day June 7, 2011)
Group appeals against water-use license for Buffelsfontein Mine Waste Solutions tailings project:
A legal dispute over the creation of a super-dump to process radioactive gold-mining waste near the Vaal River may set a pattern for the rehabilitation of hundreds of toxic dumps on the Witwatersrand.
But the plan is controversial. The non-profit Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) appealed against a water-use licence granted for the dump, citing fears that it is leaking uranium and other cancer-causing heavy metals into Gauteng's main water source. The FSE said this week that the project should be suspended.
But Mine Waste Solutions, a subsidiary of mining giant Simmer & Jack, which is creating the dump after extracting uranium and gold from 15 old dumps near Stilfontein, said that it was a model clean-up and rehabilitation project.
The Legal Resources Centre was preparing this week to take the stand-off to court. "The case could set a precedent for other planned mega-dumps," said attorney Naseema Fakir. "It's about community participation and administrative justice."
Objecting to the authorisation of the super-dump, about 2 km from the Vaal, the FSE said correct procedures were not followed and the local community was not kept informed. It initiated the case on behalf of local residents and the Paradyskop Conservancy, who rely on shallow boreholes for drinking water. FSE's chief executive Mariette Liefferink said Mine Waste Solutions originally undertook to line parts of the dump with heavy-duty plastic to prevent seepage and to build a sulphuric acid plant to counter acid drainage. It appeared to have reneged on this. "There's a very high risk of large quantities of polluted water entering the Vaal catchment," she said. (Mail & Guardian May 6, 2011)
Buffelsfontein Mine Waste Solutions tailings project commissioned: On April 19, 2011, First Uranium Corporation announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Mine Waste Solutions ("MWS"), has commissioned its tailings storage facility ("TSF"). First Uranium's President and CEO, Deon van der Mescht, said, "The commissioning of the new TSF is a major milestone as it secures the future of the MWS project, allowing it to re-treat 15 tailings dams for the gold and uranium content over the 15 year life of the operation".
Work has re-commenced on Buffelsfontein Mine Waste Solutions tailings project:
South Africa's MDM Engineering Group Limited has announced that work has re-commenced on First Uranium's Mine Waste Solutions (MWS) Phase 2 project in Stilfontein, after its suspension earlier this year.
Construction on the plant started in August 2010 and will see an increase in gold tailings processed by a further 650,000 tpm. The plant and pipeline feeds are expected to be complete by March 2011.
The overall project comprises the treatment of material from fourteen tailings dams, twelve of which originated from the original processing of material from the Buffelsfontein and Hartebeestfontein gold operations and two tailings dams, which originated from the processing of material from the Stilfontein gold mine. The project had been suspended due to the withdrawal of the environmental authorization for a new tailings storage facility designed to accommodate future tailings deposition capacity requirements. The problem has since been resolved allowing the project to be resumed. (Mineweb Oct. 5, 2010)
Mining company keeps back environmental studies on impact of planned "super dump" tailings dam:
First Uranium subsidiary Mine Waste Solutions says it is withholding information from the Federation for a Sustainable Environment on the potential effect of its controversial Klerksdorp waste dump, 1 km from the Vaal River.
This appears to contravene environmental regulations as affected stakeholders are not able to evaluate the risks of the planned development, the federation said.
The federation fears the mine dump, set to be on-stream next May, could pollute the Vaal River system, contaminate groundwater and create acid mine drainage. "Land owners will have to carry the long- term risks, so they have the right to know about these risks," federation CE Mariette Liefferink said. There was insufficient information in the environmental impact assessment and in the environmental management plan to support the facility, she said.
But Mine Waste said it conducted independent environmental studies as part of the environmental impact assessment, including the potential effect on groundwater. The company's chief operating officer, Scot Sobey, said extra studies of the facility's effect had been undertaken, but would not hand this information to the federation. He said it was the company's policy "not to hand over documents in isolation to prevent interest groups from raising issues out of context". (Business Day Sep. 2, 2010 - emphasis added)
Buffelsfontein tailings project receives water-use license: South Africa's Water Affairs Department has granted First Uranium a new-order water-use licence for its Mine Waste Solutions (MWS) operation, the company announced on Monday (June 21). (Mining Weekly June 21, 2010)
Tailings storage facility for Buffelsfontein tailings project to be commissioned by May 2011: First Uranium Corp said it expects to start construction of a key mine-waste storage facility in South Africa by November and sees commissioning by May 2011. (Reuters Mar. 22, 2010)
Environmental authorization for "super dump" tailings dam reinstated: On Feb. 25, 2010, First Uranium Corporation announced that it has been notified by the North West Provincial Government's Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Environment and Rural Development that they have issued a positive decision on the amendment application lodged by MWS last year pertaining to the Environmental Authorization for a future Tailings Storage Facility for its Mine Waste Solutions tailings reclamation project near the town of Stilfontein, North West Province, South Africa.
Environmental authorization for "super dump" tailings dam withdrawn: On Jan. 20, 2010, First Uranium Corporation announced that it has been notified by the North West Provincial Government's Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Environment and Rural Development (NWDACE) of their decision to withdraw the company's environmental authorization for a new Tailings Storage Facility designed to accommodate future tailings deposition capacity requirements at the company's Mine Waste Solutions (MWS) tailings recovery project in South Africa.
Authorization for "super dump" tailings dam withdrawn: On Nov. 5, 2009, First Uranium Corporation announced that it had temporarily suspended its work in preparation of the site for a new Tailings Storage Facility ("TSF"), which is designed to accommodate future tailings deposition capacity requirements. After granting an authorization to proceed with the new TSF, regulators have withdrawn that authorization pending further discussions with the company.
Vaal residents in uproar over authorisation of toxic dump:
Despite vociferous protest from farmers and environmental groups, the government has given initial authorisation for the building of a "super dump" toxic slime dam close to the banks of the Vaal River and adjacent to a nature conservancy.
Residents in the area say they have not been consulted on the development that will not only ruin their view over the river and across the veld, but will create an unhealthy environment for them to live in.
First Uranium subsidiary Mine Waste Solutions, which will build the mega tailings storage facility, is already clearing the ground and erecting pipes, says Mariette Liefferink, CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment. (Business Day Aug. 18, 2009)
On Aug. 3, 2009, The Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) filed an appeal against the positive authorisation for the Mine Waste Solutions reworking of tailings storage facility project. The appeal alleges that the project's impact prediction was imperfect and the public participation process was inadequate.
The time period for submission of appeals ends on August 23, 2009.
On Dec. 19, 2007, First Uranium Corporation announced the results of its pre-feasibility study (PFS) on its Buffelsfontein Tailings Recovery Project in South Africa.
Based on the PFS, which was prepared by Minxcon Pty. Ltd., First Uranium intends to immediately start construction for the expansion of the existing gold plant and the initial two modules of a new uranium plant at the Project, with commissioning expected in November 2008. The third and final modules of the gold plant and the uranium plant are to be commissioned in November 2009.
With all three modules of the uranium plant in operation, the annual uranium production would be 1.339 million lbs U3O8 [515 t U]. The total life of mine production would be 20.078 million lbs U3O8 [7,722 t U] at a uranium recovery rate of 33%.
Simmers plans an Initial Public Offering for First Uranium later this year. The listing would aim to raise up to C$75m, which would be enough to fully finance the Buffelsfontein tailings project. Simmers expects to ramp up uranium output to around 1.3 million lb [500 t U] by 2008. Buffelsfontein has about 45 million lb [17,300 t U] of measured and indicated resources of uranium in the tailings and there is potentially more at the Randfontein mine, according to chief executive Gordon Miller. (Reuters June 15, 2006)
First Uranium (Pty) Ltd has completed a mineral resource estimate for all surface tailings dams at the Buffelsfontein mine. The 283 million t of tailings contain 16,786 t U at a concentration of 0.0057% U and 2.8 million ounces of gold grading at 0.3 g/t. Initial results indicate a 15-year project life, with the potential to extract 4620 t U and 1.3 million ounces of gold from the tailings. (Simmer & Jack Mines, Limited, Jan. 24, 2006)
On May 22, 2009, First Uranium Corporation announced that the commissioning of the uranium plant at the Company's South African underground uranium and gold mine, the Ezulwini Mine, has been completed and uranium production has commenced.
First Uranium has started commissioning the uranium plant at its Ezulwini mine, in South Africa, and expects to produce the first yellowcake during the current quarter, CEO Gordon Miller said on Feb. 10, 2009. (Mining Weekly Feb. 10, 2009)
First Uranium said, uranium production at its Ezulwini mine had been delayed further by construction hitches, and output would now start in the first three months of 2009. The company suffered a previous setback and said in August the late delivery of equipment had delayed the start of uranium production at the mine to October from August this year. First Uranium, a unit of South Africa's Simmer & Jack Mines, said the next milestone for Ezulwini is the commissioning of the 100,000 tonne per month uranium plant, which is expected to start production early next year. (Reuters Nov. 27, 2008)
On Feb. 19, 2008, Simmer and Jack Mines announced that the full commissioning of the gold and uranium plant at its Ezulwini mine west of Johannesburg would be delayed for about a year, as a result of the slower increase in production due to the power shortages. The plants were originally scheduled to be commissioned January 2009, but would be delayed until January 2010. (Business Report Feb. 20, 2008)
On Aug. 13, 2007, First Uranium Corp announced, that to date, US$29.1 million has been spent on re-opening and re-furbishing the Ezulwini Mine. The shaft stabilization is on track for completion in September 2007 and the Corporation expects to commence hoisting ore in October 2007. The first uranium plant module is on track for completion in June 2008 to achieve an average annual production 888,000 pounds of uranium [342 t U] over the 18-year life of the mine.
Ezulwini Mining Company (Pty) Limited, has completed an independent Mineral Resource statement for its Ezulwini project, following the completion of phase one of a bankable feasibility study.
According to the first phase of the study, the project is financially viable and technically possible, putting the life of mine at approximately twenty years. Gold reserves are expected to offset significantly the extraction costs of the uranium deposits. Historically, uranium was mined from the Middle Elsburg section of the mine but the plant was decommissioned in the late 1990s following the collapse of the uranium price. (Simmer & Jack Sep. 7, 2006)
Simmer and Jack Mines Ltd plans an IPO to raise funds to complete the first phase of the Randfontein project through its Ezulwini subsidiary and fund the second phase. The firm's board is due to give the green light for the initial phase of gold production later in June 2006 and a feasibility study to also mine uranium there in a second phase is due in September 2006, chief executive Gordon Miller said. (Reuters June 15, 2006)
On July 9, 2007, the first shipment of ammonium diuranate (ADU) was shipped from the Dominion Reefs Uranium Mine near Klerksdorp. ADU is a concentrate containing uranium which after calcining is converted into uranium oxide (U3O8). The shipment was delivered to the facilities of Nuclear Fuels Corporation of South Africa ("Nufcor SA").
On May 18, 2007, sxr Uranium One Inc. announced the production of the first ammonium diuranate (ADU) whilst commissioning the solvent extraction circuit at its Dominion Reefs Uranium Mine near Klerksdorp. The ADU will be further processed into U3O8 (yellow cake) in Nufcor's calcining plant.
Processing of underground uranium ore at its Dominion Reefs Uranium Mine commenced on schedule this week following the successful hot commissioning of the atmospheric leach circuit at the Dominion mill. (SXR March 1, 2007)
The South African Department of Minerals and Energy ("DME") has granted SXR Uranium One a new order mining right for the Dominion Uranium Project under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 2002. The mining right has been granted for an initial period of 30 years. The area covered by the mining right comprises approximately 14,000 hectares. (SXR Oct. 11, 2006)
In the last week of September 2005, Aflease CEO Neal Froneman presided over a small ceremony to clear the ground ahead of the construction of a new Rand 500 million [US$ 79 million] processing plant at its Dominion Reefs uranium mine near Klerksdorp. The plant is due to be up and running in the first quarter of 2007, when production is due to begin at Dominion Reefs. The plant is sited alongside Aflease's existing gold plant, and at full production, throughput capacity at the uranium plant is planned to be 210,000 tons a month, with expected recoveries in excess of 90%. (Aflease Sep. 30, 2005)
On March 26, 2012, MDM Engineering Group Limited announced that it has been appointed by Gold One to undertake the definitive feasibility study review, value engineering and re-estimation of the capital cost for the Cooke Uranium Project.
On Jan. 9, 2012, Gold One International Ltd announced that it has acquired 100% of Rand Uranium Co.
Burst Cooke tailings dam sends toxic mud into Wonderfonteinspruit river:
A massive slimes dam tore open in Westonaria this week during heavy rains, unleashing a torrent of water and mining sludge, described by witnesses as a "cascading waterfall" and a "loud roar".
And for local residents and environmental activist Mariette Liefferink, the breach of the Cooke tailings dam evoked memories of the Merriespruit disaster in 1994. Then 17 people died, and several hundred were injured, when a Harmony Gold dam collapsed, sending a mudslide through the Free State town of Virginia.
"A breach in the wall can have devastating consequences,", said Liefferink, who explained this week's spillage was radioactive and toxic. "That slurry was like a waterfall, you could hear it like a loud roar. The slurry poured significant volumes into the Wonderfonteinspruit, which flows into the Boskop Dam, part of the main Reservoir to Potchefstroom." Authorities had to cordon off the area until the spill was contained.
Rand Uranium dismissed accounts of a "catastrophe" as alarmist. Spokesman Byron Kennedy blamed the breach on abnormal rain of over 130 mm failing in a few hours. "This caused excess volumes of water to accumulate on the top of the dam, resulting in the run-off. The water overflowed the containment walls on the top of the dam, causing the steam to run down the side of the dam. "The majority of the runoff was caught in the containment dams situated immediately at the base of the dam for exactly this purpose. Our team estimate around 10 percent of the stream flowed beyond the containment dams". He claimed preliminary samples of the run-off and of the water in the Wonderfonteinspruit did not indicate any signs of contamination. "The run-off that made it to the Wonderfonteinspruit was largely water. The slimes currently deposited onto the dam is from a sand tailings dam that is being mined. This sand is only mined and treated for gold as it has very low uranium levels." (Saturday Star Dec. 18, 2010)
Rand Uranium Co project not feasible at current uranium prices: Construction of the proposed R 3.5 billion [US$ 492 million] Rand Uranium plant to be built near Randfontein could be delayed because of current low uranium prices. That's according to Harmony CEO, Graham Briggs, who was replying to a question posed after his presentation to the Denver Gold Forum being held in Denver, Colorado. Harmony holds a 40% stake in the unlisted Rand Uranium into which it injected assets formerly belonging to the Cooke and Randfontein sections of the Randfontein mine including the high uranium grade Cooke tailings dump. Briggs told the conference that: "Rand Uranium is a great project at a uranium price of $65/lb. At prices closer to $45/lb it is not so great and you probably would not make that investment." (MiningMX Sep. 22, 2010)
South African junior miner Rand Uranium has announced that it will invest R3.5 billion [US$ 468 million] in the construction of a new uranium processing plant. The announcement followed the successful completion of the feasibility studies in December last year. The plant would have an annual treatment capacity of 5.4 million tons. The uranium plant would receive and process "ores" recovered from the Cooke tailings dam, which contained 83 million tons of uranium "ore" and would operate for nearly 17 years. Expansion of the Cooke underground mining operations would also contribute approximately 10% of the plant feed. It was expected that the processing plant would produce between 2.3 million pounds and 2.5 million pounds of uranium [885 - 962 t U] a year. (Mining Weekly Feb. 4, 2010)
Rand Uranium was likely to produce its first uranium metal by the middle of 2012 - up to six months later than the firm previously expected, chief executive John Munro said.
The delay to initial production was because the formation of Rand Uranium and the prefeasibility study had taken longer than expected and the company had decided to do a more extensive feasibility study in light of the difficult financial markets.
Rand Uranium is a $420m joint venture between Harmony Gold and Pamodzi Resources Fund.
At full production Rand Uranium was likely to produce just more than 2 million pounds of uranium [769 t U] a year. Most uranium that the company would produce would come from the Cooke mine dump near Randfontein. On top of the uranium production, Rand Uranium was likely to produce between 150,000 and 200,000 ounces of gold a year from reprocessing the Cooke dump and underground mine. The dump had a gold resource of 680,000 ounces and a uranium resource of 39 million pounds [15,000 t U]. Munro said the Cooke dump, two further mine dumps and the Cooke mine had uranium resources of about 100 million pounds [38,462 t U] based on historic estimates. Rand Uranium expected to produce uranium metal on a equivalent basis at $25 a pound, compared with the prevailing spot uranium price of $49 a pound. (Business Report June 1, 2009)
The venture will be known as Rand Uranium Co. (Bloomberg Apr. 17, 2008)
Harmony Gold has sold a 60 percent stake of a new company it formed to house uranium assets for $252 million to Africa's biggest private equity fund, Pamodzi Resources Fund , Harmony said on Dec. 19, 2007.
Harmony retains a 40 percent stake in the new company.
The new uranium firm will operate the Cooke Section of Harmony's Randfontein mine, 35 km south-west of Johannesburg. Graham Briggs, Harmony's acting chief executive, said the new company would seek funds to build a uranium plant with an output of 500,000 tons of ore a month and a new gold waste site at a cost of about 1.7 billion rand ($245.2 million). The plant would produce 185,000 pounds of uranium yellow-cake [71 t U] a month or 2.2 million pounds [846 t U] a year, at a cash cost estimated at $30-35 per pound. The yellow-cake would be exported, and there were no immediate plans for it to be enriched in South Africa, Briggs said. (Harmony Gold / Reuters Dec. 19, 2007)
> View deposit info
> See also: Cooke Section / Old Randfontein Section mines
On Mar. 26, 2012, MDM Engineering Group Limited announced that it has been appointed to review and update the previous prefeasibility study for the reclamation and reprocessing of the Randfontein tailings deposits and to upgrade the study to a definitive feasibility study.
On Jan. 9, 2012, Gold One International Ltd announced that it has acquired 100% of Rand Uranium Co.
Gold One to start uranium recovery at newly acquired Rand Uranium in 2016:
Gold One CEO Neal Froneman said on Wednesday (Aug. 31) that the miner would start building its uranium plant in 2013, to process uranium ore from the recently acquired Rand Uranium operations, in South Africa.
In May, Gold One signed a $250-million takeover agreement with Rand Uranium shareholders, which include Pamodzi Uranium, Pamodzi Cooke and Armgold/Harmony Joint Investment company. The acquisition is still subject to the necessary consents being obtained from the Mineral Resources Minister.
Froneman told delegates at the Africa Downunder conference, in Perth, that the Rand Uranium assets held some 41-million pounds of uranium reserves [15,769 t U], along with a gold resource of over 13-million ounces and a gold reserve of around three-million ounces. He noted that while Gold One was in "no rush" to produce uranium, the company was hoping to start uranium production by 2016, at around 2.5-million pounds a year [962 t U/a]. (Mining Weekly Aug. 31, 2011)
[According to Gold One's Aug. 31 presentation, the uranium production will be mainly from the Cooke Dump, only a smaller percentage will be from the Cooke 2 and 3 shafts.]
On April 28, 2011, Gold One International Ltd announced that is to acquire 100% of Rand Uranium Co.
The Draft Scoping Report for the new long term tailings storage facility (TSF) is available for public comment from 12 May to 11 June 2010.
> Download Cooke uranium project: long term TSF draft scoping report, May 2010 (Golder Associates Africa)
On April 22, 2010, consultant Golder Associates Africa announced that Rand Uranium has abandoned its intention to establish a tailings super dump in the Poortjie area (Area 45), against which protest was held on April 22. Rather, Site 35 remains the favoured site for the super dump development.
A protest march is to be held on April 22, 2010, by the emerging black farmers and the Mhatammoho Agricultural Union, and the potentially affected landowners against the proposed super dump (centralized tailings storage facility) of Rand Uranium, which is proposed to be established within the Poortjie area on high agricultural land.
This is the second protest march against Rand Uranium by the potentially affected landowners and farmers.
The proposed super dump will contain 350 million tons of uraniferous tailings and will be established on 1,200 hectares of land.
The farmers and landowners claim that the public participation process was fatally flawed and that they were not consulted.
The proposed project will impact upon the Vaal Barrage Catchment, a highly compromised Catchment. (The Grootvlei Mine e.g. impacts upon the Vaal Barrage.) In terms of the Water Research Report No 1297/1/07 (2007) only 21% of the Vaal Barrage showed no evidence of cytotoxicy (i.e. toxic to human cells). The Report suggests that the underlying problems of this catchment are largely due to heavy metals. It furthermore states: "It is clear that mining operations, even after they have been discontinued, are still having a major impact on water quality in the Vaal Barrage catchment, to the extent that it can no longer be compared with other natural water systems." (Federation for a Sustainable Environment Apr. 21, 2010)
Farmers oppose use of farmland for "super-dump" of Gold Fields' and Rand Uranium Co's tailings reprocessing projects:
Plans to turn a fertile valley outside Johannesburg into a "super-dump" of toxic mine sludge the size of a city suburb has sparked an outcry from farmers, who accuse two of the country's biggest mine companies of using prime platteland as a rubbish tip.
A massive 5km by 5km stretch of farmland nestled behind a ridge close to the N12 between Johannesburg and Potchefstroom has been earmarked for two super-dumps - each about 13 times the size of a normal large mine dump - by two mine companies, Gold Fields and Rand Uranium.
The companies are in the process of drawing up detailed environmental impact assessments for the dumps and have bought up several farms in the area.
Although the final dump sites have yet to be identified, initial screening has identified the valley known as Kalbasfontein as the preferred site.
"It will be catastrophic if we lost the agricultural ground in this area," said affected farmer Jan Olivier, whose 680ha maize farm lies next to the main proposed dump site. "With all this toxic waste it will be like a death sentence over our area," he said. Rand Uranium plans a super-dump big enough to receive up to two million tons of treated tailings per month for about 20 years - about 480 million tons in total. Although the companies say the consolidated dumps - technically known as tailings storage facilities - will be more environmentally friendly than the current smaller dumps, affected farmers believe the dumps may contaminate ground water and cause major dust storms. (The Times Aug. 22, 2009)
The reprocessing of various dumps within Cooke Section and Old Randfontein Section is planned, whereby "a significant amount of environmental rehabilitation will take place". The total amount of tailings at the site is 395.6 million t. The tailings dumps will be mined using high-pressure water cannons to re-pulp the slurry, which will then be pumped to processing plants and separated into gold and uranium using a leach process. (Harmony Gold / Reuters Dec. 19, 2007)
Mining company Harmony Gold is investigating the possibility of remining old tailings dams at its Randfontein operations, on the West Rand.
The project, which forms part of a larger venture that includes the remining and processing of 56 historic tailings dams at the company's operations in Randfontein, Evander and Welkom, all aiming to extract gold and uranium.
Harmony says in a statement that there are ten old historic tailings dams in the Randfontein area that are being considered as part of this project. The proposed operation will process about 400-million tons from the existing tailings dams at the Randfontein mining operations. Approximately 2.5-million tons of tailings are expected to be mined each month, and the project is expected to continue for 12 to 15 years.
The mining operations will consolidate the residue tailings from the processing plant into one "megatailings" facility. The project's megatailings facility will stretch over an area of 800 ha and will be 37 m in height. It will be able to accommodate 468-million tons of tailings over the life span of the project.
The project will consist of pipelines that will supply water to the mining areas and transport the slurry to the processing plant, where the gold and/or uranium will be removed from the tailings. The pipelines will also supply water for the processing plant, and the transportation of tailings residue to the new megatailings facility. These tailings will then be deposited at the megatailings facility, where the water will be collected for reuse.
Harmony has appointed Golder Associates Africa to conduct the environmental-impact assessment and the public participation process. Once attained, the project construction is expected to start by the end of 2008, with full production in 2010. (Mining Weekly Oct. 26, 2007)
Aflease Gold and Uranium Resources (AFL) announced that it had entered into an agreement in principle with Harmony Gold (HAR) whereby Aflease would acquire the right to mine, process and market all of Harmony's uranium in South Africa.
The resource that is included in the agreement is estimated to consist of 155 million pounds (lbs) of uranium oxide [59,619 t U] of high grade dump and tailings material, which could start producing uranium in about two years. A further 145 million lbs uranium oxide [55,772 t U] low-grade tailings has also been delineated as a future target. The Harmony uranium deposits are situated predominately to the west of Johannesburg and in the Free State province. (Business Day Feb. 3, 2005)
The project was terminated, after drilling results from several of the tailings showed that "the uranium resource fell short of expectations". (Business Report May 26, 2005)
DRDGold mulls uranium extraction at East Rand tailings project: DRDGold is scheduled to complete the building of its flotation and fine-grind circuit before June. If this is successful, it will invest a further R150-million [US$ 17.8 million] in a uranium-recovery add-on, Pretorius tells Mining Weekly Online. "If we achieve the flotation recoveries that we set out to achieve, then the uranium will be the first add-on," Pretorius says. (Mining Weekly Aug. 29, 2012)
DRDGold ponders uranium extraction at East Rand tailings project:
DRDGold will build a R250m [US$ 32.4 million] addition to its Ergo plant to grind tailings going into the plant finely to unlock stubborn gold, a business which CEO Niel Pretorius yesterday described as a "gold factory".
The fine-grind project will bump up gold production at Ergo by 16%-20%. The project will be commissioned in 18 months.
DRDGold could in the next 10 years begin re-treating about 250-million tons of tailings that have already passed through its Crown, City Deep and Knights plants and been placed on huge dumps next to Soccer City in Soweto.
"There's quite a substantial amount of uranium on those dumps as well," Mr Pretorius said. The uranium project is a longer term project and Mr Pretorius played it down. Work done by AngloGold Ashanti , which once owned Ergo, showed uranium recoveries were unlikely to top 13%. Original work on DRDGold's dumps showed the project would need a uranium price north of $140/lb to justify the expense of new infrastructure using technology used in the past. The fine-grind technology will push up the uranium content in concentrate to 200 parts per million. Anything less than that is uneconomical. DRDGold is also looking at a resin-in-pulp technology to extract uranium freed up by the grinding. "Those two events are what bring this project within reach. At uranium prices of $50 a pound it can deliver a by-product credit into our gold circuit. It will soften the unit cost by 5% to 8%," he said. DRDGold could recover 11 tons of uranium a month. (BusinessDay Feb. 15, 2012)
DRDGold puts plans for uranium production at East Rand gold mine on hold: South African junior gold miner DRDGold plans to double gold processing capacity at its Ergo facility to 2.4 million tonnes per month by August 2011, a senior official said on Tuesday (Sep 14). Charles Symons said the company put on hold its plans to produce uranium at the surface operation due to low prices, adding the price would need to rise to $113 a pound for them to do so. (Reuters Sep 14, 2010)
On Jan. 22, 2010, Mintails Ltd announced that it had entered into an agreement with DRDGold Ltd subsidiary, East Rand Proprietary Mines Ltd, to sell its 50% equity interest in Ergo Mining (Pty) Ltd.
On Nov. 26, 2007, Mintails Ltd and DRDGold Ltd announced that they have secured the rights to 1.7 billion t of tailings and slimes dams in the East and Central Rand region of South Africa's Witwatersrand Basin for the recovery of gold, uranium, and sulfuric acid. The existing Brakpan ERGO recovery plant is to be refurbished to achieve an annual design capacity of 150,000 oz of gold, 660,000 lbs U3O8 [254 t U], and 855,000 t of sulfuric acid.
"These reefs also contain significant quantities of uranium with a potential plant feed grade averaging 100ppm. However, this diluted grade is regarded as too low to consider being economically attractive, since the principal reefs contain less than this grade for the majority of the life of the mine. Therefore, the processing of uranium has not been considered appropriate for Bloemhoek, although this conclusion will need to be tested during any future project phase." (Technical Report on the Scoping Study for the Bloemhoek Project, May 2008)
Comment invited on final scoping report for proposed Mooifontein open pit uranium mine and heap leach project:
Paddy's Pad 1183 (Pty) Ltd. (a subsidiary of Batla Minerals SA ), proposes to develop an open-cast uranium mine and associated infrastructure for the processing of uranium ore from the Mooifontein Deposit, which is located approximately 10 line kilometres North West of the town of Edenburg, and approximately 83km South West of Bloemfontein via the N1 Highway. Edenburg is located 3 kilometres West of the N1 Highway.
An open-cast mine of approximately 60 ha is proposed. The life of the mine is expected to be between twenty five and thirty years. The uranium-containing ore will be mined by means of a phased approach whereby low volumes will initially be mined (± 30,000 tons of ore per annum during the third year), increasing to ± 350,000 tons of ore per annum, i.e. an envisaged daily production of 500 to 1000 tons.
On-site processing of the extracted uranium ore is proposed. Such processing will most likely comprise an alkaline heap leaching uranium extraction process.
The comment period ends January 9, 2012.
> Download Mooifontein NEMA/NEM:WA Final Scoping Report (Withers Environmental Consultants)
> See also: Study highlights environmental hazards from abandoned uranium trial mines in the Karoo Uranium Province
Uraniferous slurry spillage at Mintails' West Rand tailings project: The Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE) notified the National Nuclear Regulator of an uraniferous slurry spillage upon public land within the West Rand (Krugersdorp). The pipelines are in ownership and control of the mining company, Mintails (Mogale Gold). The spillage was witnessed by a group of community representatives and producers of a documentary film on Saturday morning, the 5th of November, 2011. (FSE Nov. 7, 2011)
Mintails Ltd abandons plan to extract uranium at West Rand tailings project: "Currently the Company has no mining plan or operational intention to extract uranium from its resources." (Mintails Ltd., 2011 Annual Report, Sep. 30, 2011)
Mintails Ltd. submits EIA for West Rand tailings reclamation / reprocessing project:
Mintails Ltd's subsidiary Mogale Gold is applying for a Water Use Licence. The extent of the licence will cover the reclamation activities, as well as the reclamation plant and disposal of tailings into the West Wits Pit.
Mogale Gold is also submitting an EIA for its activities that fall under the ambit of the National Environmental Management Act. The NEMA application will address the following: The storage of hazardous chemicals (including diesel), Water Treatment Plant, Tailings transfer via pipeline from the reclamation sites to the reclamation plant, and Tailings transfer via pipeline from the reclamation plant to the West Wits Pit.
The appointed Environmental Assessment Practitioner is Melisa Lachenicht (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
(July 13, 2009)
Uranium mill tailings retreatment uneconomic at current sulphuric acid prices: The current cost and scarcity of sulphuric acid render uranium recovery from mine dump retreatment operations on the West Rand uneconomic if the grade is less than 180 to 200 parts per million (ppm), says Mintails board member Lloyd Birrell. This means flotation is necessary to upgrade the uranium to an economically leachable level. However, adds Birrell, "uranium residues do not respond well to flotation, and uranium recovery using flotation is marginal". (Mining Weekly Online Dec. 12, 2008)
Contract awarded for solvent extraction plant of Mintails' West Rand tailings recovery project: On July 3, 2008, Mintails Ltd announced that it has awarded a US$ 5.4 million contract to Bateman Litwin N.V. for the design and supply of the Western Rand (WERGO) Uranium Solvent Extraction Plant. The WERGO Gold and Uranium Recovery Plant, is located in the Randfontein area of the Republic of South Africa. The plant will be recovering gold and uranium from existing surface mine tailings dumps, at an initial throughput capacity of 9.6 million tonnes of slimes per annum. Recovery of uranium expected to commence in the 4th Quarter of 2009.
Residents concerned about Witfontein "megatailings" facility to be built with Mintails' West Rand tailings re-mining project: Residents from the Wonderfonteinspruit area have raised concerns about the 300 million t Witfontein megatailings facility proposed by Mintails. The tailings dam is to cover an area of 3 km x 4 km at a height of 115 m. The facility is to receive the tailings from 15 existing tailings dams. (Beeld April 11, 2008)
Uranium resource in West Rand tailings doubled: On July 4, 2007, Mintails Ltd announced that the total resource has been doubled to approx. 21 million lbs U3O8 [8,077 t U], 3.5 million lbs [1,346 t U] of which have been upgraded from the "inferred" to the "indicated" category.
Mintails announces inferred uranium resource for recovery from West Rand gold tailings: On May 17, 2007, Mintails Ltd announced an inferred resource of 10.4 million lbs U3O8 [4000 t U] in the 285 million t of gold tailings owned by the company in the West Rands area.
On Oct. 8, 2009, Niger Uranium Ltd announced the termination of the acquisition of the Henkries deposit, as government approval has not been obtained.
On Sep. 1, 2008, Niger Uranium Ltd announced that it is to purchase 74% of Namakwa Uranium (Proprietary) Limited, owner of the Henkries uranium deposit under prospecting license (885/2007PR). The Company is confident that the Henkries Deposit will become South Africa's first open pit uranium mine with an internal target date of late 2011.
Anglogold Ashanti is working on technology to release 80-million pounds U3O8 [30,769 t U] of uranium that is locked up in dumps, as it pushes ahead on major gold projects.
AngloGold has 80-million pounds of uranium and 4-million ounces of gold in its mine dumps, but the low recoveries of about 40% in extracting the metal, combined with uranium price forecasts, mean it has not begun exploiting this resource, he said. "We are in research to significantly up those recoveries. If that works then we've got a substantial portion of uranium we can work on," Mr Lazare told Business Day, pointing out this project is not yet in the scoping study phase. The technology is secret and he was reluctant to talk about it. "This opens the potential to set up joint ventures with other mining companies around you or buy their slimes dumps," he said. (Business Day Sep. 6, 2010)
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