U-pgrade tweaking gains momentum
Efforts to commercialise Marenica’s U-pgrade processing technology gained momentum this week when Australian based miner, Toro Energy threw its weight behind the project by signing an agreement to undertake extensive test work using Marenica´s U-pgrade process technology. The technology presents a quantum leap in the processing of uranium ores, significantly reducing costs while increasing concentrate factors significantly.
It is anticipated that Marenica will report back on the results of the test work conducted to date by the end of the first quarter in 2015. With the uranium spot price in a downward spiral following the Hiroshima incident in 2011, Marenica is expected to make a strong business case to potential investors as well as prospective clients of the processing technology it believes will revolutionise conventional uranium processing methods currently employed at mines around the world.
Murray Hill, Chief Executive Officer of Marenica said, “The prevailing low uranium price is an impediment to exploration and new development in the industry and the consensus is that uranium prices in excess of US$75 per pound are needed to provide the incentive to be able to deliver the new production required to feed the growing global fleet of nuclear power stations.”
The commercialisation of the processing technology is widely supported by the Australian government and Marenica have since enjoyed tremendous cash injections by pursing the project. Said Murray, “A healthy tax refund would be expected by constructing and operating the Pilot Plant in Australia and as a consequence the plan is to locate the Pilot Plant in Perth.”
Marenica has in the past used ore obtained from its project in Namibia as well as ore obtained from Deep Yellow’s Tumas Sands project, Areva’s Trekkopje project as well as several other southern African deposits.
Marenica claims that the use of the U-pgrade technology will enable uranium producers to reduce operating costs by 50 to 70% and capital costs by 30 to 50% compared to conventional processing while rejecting 98% of the mass prior to leaching. The technology will further concentrate the uranium by a factor of 50 and produce a high grade concentrate in a low mass of 2%.
Hill added “The value of U-pgrade comes from an operating and capital cost reduction which is compelling for producers across a wide range of uranium prices.” Excellent U-pgrade amenability test results have been achieved on Namibian deposits. “Given the broad base of test work success on Namibian ores to date, we expect similar excellent results on other Namibian deposits given the strong correlation of ore properties in this region” he explained.
In November 2014, Marenica gave an update on the funding required for the development of the U-pgrade project. At that stage, a select group of investors were selected and allowed access to the U-pgrade black box of the Marenica project. Discussions with potential investors are at an advanced stage, Marenica reported.