Uranium Equities (ASX: UEQ) has awarded a contract to undertake an Engineering Study of its PhosEnergy Process to global engineering and professional services consultancy, Hatch.
The PhosEnergy Process is a technology for the extraction of uranium from phosphate streams produced in the production of phosphate-based fertilisers.
Uranium Equities and Cameco Corporation are jointly commercialising the technology under a strategic alliance in which Cameco has the right to earn a 73% interest in the PhosEnergy Process.
Results of the study are expected in the March 2013 quarter.
The study will be run out of Hatch’s Tampa, Florida offices where their Phosphate Fertilizer Center of Excellence is based, and utilise information gathered during the technical development of the process, in particular the successful demonstration plant operations announced previously.
The study will define CAPEX and OPEX for a commercial facility employing the process and allow a robust business case to be built for uranium recovery from phosphate fertiliser streams.
Uranium Equities estimates the cash operating cost of uranium production employing the PhosEnergy Process to be US$20 to $25 per pound of uranium, with a capital intensity of $100 per pound (U3O8) of annualised nameplate capacity.
These estimates are based on phosphate streams from a 1 million tonne per annum phosphate fertiliser facility operating in the U.S and include a 40% contingency.
Mid-last month Uranium Equities successfully completed the first operating phase of its PhosEnergy Demonstration Plant in the U.S.
Four, 10 day tests were completed from June to August 2012 on phosphate streams from two different fertiliser facilities.
The PhosEnergy Process proved effective on a demonstration scale with multiple cycles of unit operations showing exceptional results.
Key outcomes included:
- Consistently high uranium recovery, greater than 90%, from the phosphate stream during steady-state operation;
- No deleterious build-up of impurities in the extraction media across multiple cycles;
- Chemical and reagent consumptions within expected range;
- Purification and concentration of uranium is achievable without significant uranium losses;
- The chemistry of the phosphate stream is unaffected except for the removal of uranium; and
- A concentrated product was shipped to a uranium production facility where a saleable product can be produced.
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