Vanadium drives uranium project developments

30 October 2018


As vanadium prices increase, uranium miners in the USA and elsewhere are looking to capitalise on the vanadium that is co-present with uranium in certain deposits to add value to their operations.


vanadium/WA Business News




 

바나듐 가격 상승으로 가열되고 있는 우라늄광 프로젝트 


우라늄과 같이 매장돼 있어 


   바나듐(Vanadium) 가격이 상승함에 따라 미국 등 세계 우라늄 채광업자 등은 사업가치를 높이기 위해 우라늄과 통상 같이 매장되어 있어 바나듐 채광을 위한 자본조달을 꾀하고 있다.


Energy Fuels Inc.사는 미국 Utah주 La Sal 우라늄-바나듐 광산에서 제한된 바나듐 채광을 시작했으며 올 11월 중순부터 White Mesa 에 있는 정련소에서 바나듐 생산을 재개할 계획이다. Western Uranium & Vanadium사는 Colorado주에 있는 Sunday 광산에서 바나듐 채광을 다시 시작할 것이라고 공개했다. 오스트레일리아의 Aura Energy사도 아프리카 북서부 Mauritania에서 진행하고 있는 Tiris 우라늄탐사프로젝트의 타당성연구 범위에 바나듐 채광을  포함시켰다.




고강도 철강 및 배터리 등에 사용되는 바나듐은 통상 carnotite 원광에서 우라늄과 같이 발견되며 일부 광산에서는 우라늄 생산시 부산물로 생산되어 왔다. 생산은 줄고 수요는 증가함에 따라 지난 해 바나듐 가격은 150% 이상 상승했다. 이에 따라 우라늄 가격이 낮은 현재 일부 우라늄 채광업자들은 바나듐을 통해 사업의 경제성을 높이려고 하고 있는 것이다. Energy Fuels사의 La Sal 광산이나 Western사의 Sunday 광산과 같은 종래의 광산 운영에서는 우라늄 생산에 초점이 맞춰져 있었기 때문에 바나듐 매장량 평가가 과소평가되어 고품위 바나듐 매장 사실이 밝혀지지 못한 경우가 있다.


China vanadium spot price/InvestorIntel

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White Mesa 시설은 현재 미국 내에서 운영되고 있는 유일한 기존방식의 우라늄 정련소로 연간 U3O8 3,077 톤우라늄(tU) 생산허가를 갖고 있으며 기존방식으로 채광한 원석으로부터 바나듐을 정련하는 능력을 갖춘 미국내 유일한 시설이다. 고순도 바나듐 생산을 위한 별도 라인을 갖추고 있지만 2013년 생산을 멈춘 바 있다.


Energy Fuels사 사는 올 8월에 발표한 2분기 사업실적에서 320,000~360,000 파운드의 U3O8을 생산했으며 이 중 145,000 파운드는 대체 광원에서, 나머지는 기존 처리방식에서는 회수할 수 없었던 용해 우라늄으로부터 생산했다고 밝혔다.




Energy Fuels사는 올 11월부터 White Mesa 시설에서 바나듐 생산을 재개할 예정인데 약 400만 파운드의 V2O5를 포함하고 있을 것으로 추정되는 처리후 저장조로부터 용해된 바나듐을 회수하게 된다. 현재 진행중인 La Sal 광산의 시험채광 프로그램을 통해 낮은 우라늄 품위 때문에 이전에는 채광하지 않았던 곳에서 고품위 바나듐 광맥을 찾았냈다고 밝혔다. 장기적으로 바나듐 생산을 지속할 계획이라고 덧붙였다.

ndsl.kr

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Energy Fuels Inc has started a limited conventional vanadium mining programme at its La Sal complex of uranium and vanadium mines in Utah and plans to resume vanadium production at the White Mesa mill in mid-November. Western Uranium & Vanadium Corp has announced plans to re-open the Sunday mine complex in Colorado with the aim of upgrading the project's vanadium resource. Meanwhile, Australian company Aura Energy has included vanadium recovery in its ongoing definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the Tiris uranium project in Mauritania, in north-western Africa.


Vanadium - used in high-strength steel and also in some battery applications - is found alongside uranium in carnotite ores, and has historically been produced as a by-product in some operations. Increasing demand, coupled with production cuts, have seen vanadium prices increase by more than 150% over the past year, offering some uranium producers a possible route to improve economics at a time of low uranium prices. At previously producing operations, such as Energy Fuels' La Sal and Western's Sunday, vanadium resources may have been underestimated because historic mining has been targeted on uranium production, meaning that high-grade vanadium deposits may have been missed.




Uranium/Postcard News

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White Mesa is the USA's only operating conventional uranium mill, with a licensed capacity of over 8 million pounds U3O8 (3077 tU) per year, and is also is the only mill in the country capable of recovering vanadium from conventionally mined ores. It has a separate circuit to produce high-purity vanadium from certain ores, as well as a separate alternate feed circuit to produce uranium from other uranium-bearing materials - that is, materials not derived from conventional ore - with grades of up to 75% U3O8. It last produced vanadium in 2013.




In its second quarter results, announced in August, Energy Fuels said it expected to recover 320,000-360,000 pounds U3O8 at the mill during the year for its own account, of which 145,000 pounds were expected to be from alternate feed materials and the remainder from 'pond return' - dissolved uranium in the mill's tailings management system not recovered from previous processing activities.


Energy Fuels plans to resume vanadium recovery operations at White Mesa next month, processing dissolved vanadium from the tailings and evaporation ponds at the mill, which it estimates to contain about 4 million pounds of recoverable V2O5. The test-mining programme at La Sal, which is now under way, has already identified areas of high-grade vanadium mineralisation that were not previously mined due to the relatively lower uranium grades in the material, the company said.


According to Energy Fuels CEO Mark Chalmers the company is looking to build a longer-term vanadium production profile at its uranium/vanadium mines.




"As we suspected, there may be large zones of high-grade vanadium mineralisation in the La Sal Complex that were never mined in the past, because they contain relatively lower-grade uranium mineralisation. If we continue to see similar results as the programme advances, it is our hope that we can mine the La Sal Complex in a manner that targets vanadium during periods of elevated vanadium prices, even during periods of lower uranium prices. The ability to target higher-grade vanadium zones, separately and independently from higher-grade uranium zones in these mines may be, we believe, a true paradigm shift in the way these mines can be mined going forward," he said.


Sunday re-opening

Colorado-based Western - which earlier this month incorporated vanadium into its original company name of Western Uranium Corp - said on 25 October that it plans to re-open the Sunday mine complex with the aim of upgrading the vanadium resource and "monetising" the project's "already significant vanadium resource holdings". The complex consists of five individual mines, with historic resources of over 2.9 million pounds U3O8. According to a 2015 NI 43-101 technical report on the complex, it was last mined from 2006 to 2009.


"From the 1980s to the present, mining and drilling occurred only sporadically, typically whe uranium or vanadium prices were high," the report notes.




Tiris DFS back on course

Aura Energy today announced that its DFS for the Tiris uranium project in Mauritania is now in full progress again after a "period of constrained activity" due to weak uranium prices.


 

Sampling work at Tiris (Image: Aura Energy)


The company describes Tiris as a near-term development project with production expected in 2020. It has 17 million pounds U3O8 of measured and indicated resources with a capital cost of USD45 million and operating cost of USD19.40 per pound, according to a 2014 scoping study.


Technical investigations during the DFS have indicated the potential for the recovery of vanadium from the project's process, and the company has conducted preliminary evaluations of the feasibility of vanadium recovery from solution, Aura said. "The Tiris project value, which is driven by low operating and development capital costs, would benefit further with vanadium recovery which is considered technically achievable," the company said today.




Aura Executive Chairman Peter Reeve said the progression of the DFS following an extended hiatus during the period of lower uranium prices was pleasing. "The current rise in the uranium price is encouraging and the Tiris Uranium Project is expected to be in production in 2020 (subject to financing and permitting) moving Aura to producer status," he said.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Vanadium-drives-uranium-project-developments


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