The U-pgrade process reduced one tonne of mined ore to only 25 kilograms for presentation to the leach plant, whilst increasing the grade by circa 35 times.
Importantly, the results indicate the potential to create an extremely low volume and high-grade concentrate with high recovery.
Significant process improvement over current methods
The testwork on Langer Heinrich ore was completed on a single composite prepared from four individual samples taken from the Langer Heinrich low-grade stockpiles.
The results indicate that the U-pgrade process plant recovery is expected to be in the mid to high 80% range, producing a concentrate for leaching of less than 2.5% of the mined mass.
This means that for every one tonne of ore mined only 25 kilograms would be sent to the leach plant.
By comparison, currently, 600 kilograms of ore is presented to the leach plant for every tonne mined.
Paladin Energy evaluating the potential benefit of the technology
The company is aiming to improve the existing operation in terms of both recovery and operating cost, considering the remaining reserve average of circa 450 ppm uranium.
Notably, the weak price of uranium has turned the corner and is slowly improving thanks to significant production cuts from existing producers.
Last month, Cameco suspended production at its McArthur River mine, the world’s largest producing uranium mine, for at least 10 months.