Marenica moves to commercialise processing technology

Marenica are intent on developing their U-pgrade processing technology, following extensive testwork completed on 3,000 kilograms of ore from its planned open pit site in the Erongo Region. Speaking to the Economist this week was Marenica Chief Executive Officer Murray Hill who briefly filled the paper in on its plans for the commercialisation of its processing technology.  “We have completed extensive test work on about 3,000kg of sample from the Marenica deposit and have developed a patented process called U-pgrade (pronounced upgrade). In summary the process is a beneficiation process which rejects the gangue minerals commonly occurring in calcrete uranium deposits in Namibia and produces a high grade uranium concentrate.” According to Murray, it showed the potential to cut operating costs by as much as 50% when compared to conventional heap leach technology. “This has significant environmental benefits,” Murray added. According to him, Marenica have completed small scale amenability tests on a number of deposits locally and concluded the amenability of U-pgrade to all deposits tested to date. Said Hill, “Due to the cost structure reduction, the U-pgrade process results in lower trigger prices for project development, and also reduces cut-off grade, greatly increasing the tonnes of uranium to be processed, better utilising Namibia’s uranium resources. There are many calcrete uranium deposits in Namibia, but due to the high cost of conventional processing most are sub economic.” Added Hill, “we are in discussions with investors to provide sufficient funding to complete a pilot plant to demonstrate and prove the U-pgrade process and its applicability to calcrete uranium ores. This will also prove to a risk averse mining and investment community that U-pgrade is a valuable part of Namibia’s uranium future.” The planned pilot project will be situated in Perth, Australia. Hill explained back at the time, “The Australian government provides very attractive incentives for research and development of new technologies and 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.”On the issue of its mining license and planned mining activities, Hill responded, “Although Marenica have halved the costs on the Marenica Uranium Project, a higher uranium price is required to develop the project, and as a consequence we have applied for a Mineral Deposit Retention Licence while we await the much anticipated uranium price rise. But in the meantime we are working hard to apply the U-pgrade process to other higher grade Namibian calcrete uranium deposits.”