1. In a major boost to India’s quest for energy security, a new uranium processing plant has recently been commissioned in Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh, which may have one of the largest reserves of uranium in the world. For a country that has been importing uranium to fuel its nuclear power plants from across the world, the commissioning of the mine has been hailed as a significant step to help fill the void.
The construction work on the uranium ore mine and processing plant cost an estimated $208 million. Studies indicated that Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh is endowed with one of the largest uranium reserves in the world. They have shown that Tummalapalle in the district could have reserves of 150,000 tonnes of the mineral.
The project, owned by the Uranium Corporation of India, will produce 3,000 tonnes of ore daily in the first phase and go up gradually, while the second phase will produce a further 1,500 tonnes per day. The mine is estimated to have uranium reserves of almost 150,000 tonnes – a ten-fold increase of the original estimate.
Officials said the reserves would be sufficient to generate 10,000 MW of nuclear power without resorting to costly imports. The uranium plant will play a major role in the country’s plans to drastically expand nuclear power generation.
Officials added that nuclear power generation in the country would reach 60,000 megawatts by 2050. Reports indicate that India is planning to set up some 30 reactors and get a quarter of its electricity from nuclear energy by 2050.
2. Nickel and gold explorer Impact Minerals asserts that Botswana is fast growing its reputation as one of the best modern-era uranium mining provinces on the African continent, owing to the company’s discovery of three deposits and a new emerging discovery at its Red Hills prospect.
Botswana was ‘off the radar’ until the 2006 discovery of explorer A-Cap Resources’ Lethlakane deposits, near Serule, which is now a 261-million-pound uranium oxide resource at a grade of 150 parts per million (ppm),” says Impact Minerals MD Dr Mike Jones.
Drilling indicates that the deposit has the potential to host about five-million pounds of uranium oxide at a grade of 150 ppm, a similar grade to that of the Letlhakane deposit, only 20 km away, says Jones.
Further small deposits have been found at Mosolotsane and Morolane, each probably hosting about two-million pounds of uranium oxide at a similar grade to that of Lekabolo.
“These are unlikely to be economically viable to mine but they demonstrate that other uranium deposits similar to Lethlakane do exist in Botswana,” states Jones.
He adds that the discovery of the large alteration system at Impact Minerals’ Red Hills prospect is the company’s most exciting development. Although it is not a deposit yet, it indicates that large uranium- bearing mineralised systems occur in rocks much older than the Karoo-aged sandstone and mudstone at Letlhakane.
The large Red Hills alteration system is about 1 km × 1.5 km and about 200 m thick. It contains a significant amount of low-grade rare-earth elements and uranium, as well as base and precious metals, namely lead, zinc and silver.
Impact Minerals has termed this system a ‘halo’ that may be close to a large high-grade uranium deposit. The system may be similar to the high-grade uranium deposits found in similar aged rocks in the Athabasca basin of Canada, which hosts some of the world’s largest and highest-grade uranium mines.
3. Inkai, a joint venture between Canada’s Cameco Corp. (CCO) and Kazakhstan’s state-run miner Kazatomprom, is seeking the Kazakh government’s approval by the end of this year to boost uranium output by 33 percent, Interfax reported.
Inkai wants authorization to increase production from 1,500 metric tons to 2,000 tons, David Neuburger, Cameco’s vice president of international mining, said at a conference in Astana, the Kazakh capital, according to the Interfax report.