Toro Energy Limited (ASX:TOE) is advancing to the next stage of the Beneficiation and Process Design (BPD) studies for its Wiluna Uranium Project in Western Australia.
This follows the successful tests in confirming opportunities to substantially reduce the capital and operating costs of the processing facility.
The key outcome of the BPD studies to date has been a re-design of the process flow sheet to potentially reduce the capital cost of the proposed hydrometallurgical plant by more than 40% to about $78 million.
Toro’s study has also identified an opportunity to reduce the processing operating cost to about $16/tonne run-of-mine (ROM) feed.
Opportunity to become Western Australia’s first uranium mine
The success of the BPD studies to date is based on the improved understanding of the different lithologies and uranium associations of the Wiluna deposits, and the novel application of conventional technologies to the processing flow sheet.
Beneficiation not only delivered an upgraded uranium concentrate to the leach circuit but also provided the opportunity to investigate filtration and wash cycles prior to the leaching stage.
The result is a more efficient hydrometallurgical circuit with potentially significant improvements to capital and operating costs.
The Centipede and Lake Way deposits have received government approval for mining, providing the Wiluna Project with the opportunity to become Western Australia’s first uranium mine.
Wiluna Uranium Project - Location
Further work to complete the BPD studies
Toro has four main phases of work required to complete the BPD studies. These include:
• Phase I: Leaching and Ion Exchange Test work
• Phase II: Metsim® (process simulation system) modelling
• Phase III: Process Package Development
• Phase IV: Estimation of the Capital and Operating Costs
It is anticipated that work on phase I of the BPD studies will be completed during Q3 2018.
Toro will determine whether to progress through the successive phases on a progressive basis which will include being influenced by the results from phase I.
Potential for Yandal style gold
Toro is also considering other avenues to extract value from the project during this presently subdued uranium price market, including an assessment of the prospectivity for other metals, the most obvious being Yandal style gold.
The Yandal Greenstone Belt is a world-class gold district having already produced over 14 million ounces of gold so far (Jundee, Darlot and Bronzewing gold mines).