Uranium mining in Flinders Ranges may be closer
September 17, 2007
An Adelaide-based resources company says it hopes to have an underground uranium mine in the northern Flinders Ranges by 2011.
Marathon Resources says a final scoping study of the Mount Gee deposit has found that an underground mine would produce about 900 tonnes of uranium annually.
An independent analysis of exploration results means the company has reduced its estimate of the resource from about 45.5 million tonnes to about 43 million tonnes.
Marathon chief executive Stuart Hall says the result is still positive.
"We are still talking about one of the three or four biggest resources in Australia and its location in South Australia which is one of the most supportive for mining development," he said.
momentkiller wrote:So, the Mid North and Far North will just be yellowcake country?
Someone should make a big yellow cake icon for a tourist drawcard lol.
Outback gold rush
CAMERON ENGLAND, CHIEF BUSINESS REPORTER
September 24, 2007 02:15am
THE gold deposit at Olympic Dam potentially is the world's biggest, BHP Billiton is expected to announce this week.
The company will release its resource upgrade for the copper, gold and uranium mine as part of its annual report on Wednesday. This will detail latest estimates on the size of the mine's deposits.
The mine already sits on top of the world's largest uranium resource and has one of the world's largest copper and silver deposits.
BHP remained tightlipped yesterday on whether the gold deposit in the state's Far North was a world record, because information could influence the company's stock price.
BHP has been operating up to 20 drilling rigs at the mine as it prepares to make a decision on whether to spend more than $6 billion expanding the mine.
The last released figures for the deposit showed it held 4430 million tonnes of ore, containing 1.1 per cent copper, 0.5 grams per tonne of gold, and 0.4 kg per tonne of uranium oxide. It is the world's 16th-largest copper producer and third-largest uranium producer.
The expansion is expected to increase copper production by 2 1/2 times to 500,000 tonnes a year, gold production from 80,000 ounces to 500,000ounces and uranium from 4500 tonnes to 15,000 tonnes.
While the Kalgoorlie superpit in Western Australia produces up to 850,000 ounces of gold a year and Newcrest Mining's Telfer mine is aiming for more than 800,000 ounces this financial year, the Olympic Dam deposit has an expected lifespan of 100 years.
Gold is fetching $US738.90 an ounce on international markets which is a near-record high.
Previous estimates of the mine's total deposits could be conservative, however, with a BHP spokesperson telling a dinner in Adelaide recently the new figure could be 50 per cent higher than previous estimates.
BHP management is not expected to make a decision until the middle of next year on whether to go ahead with the mine expansion.
It would turn it from an underground mine into the world's largest open-pit mining operation.
BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers said recently while the development timeline for Olympic Dam had slipped a little, it was important to get the job done right.
"We remain absolutely confident that Olympic Dam will be the pre-eminent supplier of uranium, underpinning much of the nuclear renaissance that is being experienced as a response to the greenhouse concerns the world currently is seeking solutions for," Mr Kloppers said."We just want to make sure that we do it right.
"That the technology will work, that the scale-up factors are the right ones, and so on.
"It's going to be there for generations and you're laying the foundation for that."
BHP expects the expanded mine to contribute about $2.5 billion to the state's economy each year, up from about $1 billion now, and generate about $80 million in government royalties, up from $35 million.
Olympic Dam worth $1 trillion
Andrew Trounson | September 26, 2007
BHP Billiton has almost doubled the value of ore in the ground at its huge Olympic Dam mine in South Australia to more than $1 trillion.
The increase is set to support mining at Olympic Dam and the tiny township of Roxby Downs for perhaps a hundred years or more, and is likely to encourage BHP's in-coming boss Marius Kloppers to as much as double the size of a planned expansion.
But BHP Billiton is facing a huge construction bill that according to some analysts could blow out to be as high as $US15 billion ($17.2 billion), including major water and power investments.
It is speculated the expanding size of the ore body and escalating construction costs for mining projects globally will encourage BHP to maximize the size of any expansion.
BHP had originally been considering doubling copper production at the mine, but Merrill Lynch is tipping a more than quadrupling in production to 1 million tonnes a year of copper.
Such an expansion would also yield 30,000 tonnes a year of uranium oxide and 500,000 ounces of gold. Merrill Lynch has forecast the cost of such an expansion at $US10 billion to $US15 billion.
But BHP is treading carefully as it assesses the different development options, and first production from any expansion isn't expected until 2013 at the earliest.
A pre-feasibility study on the project isn't expected to be completed until mid-2008.
BHP has spent about $US50 million drilling the ore body and today increased its estimate of mineral-bearing ore resources to 7.7 billion tonnes from 4.4 billion tonnes.
South Australian premier Mike Rann said the increased resource figures were â€œabout the best news economically that this state has ever receivedâ€.
â€œAbout 17 rigs have been drilling continuously and still cannot find the extent of the resource - they can't find the perimeters, they can't find an end to the depth of it,â€ Mr Rann said.
In August Mr Kloppers said Olympic Dam could turnout to be the world's second biggest base metal discovery in the world behind the Norilsk nickel discover in Russia.
Contained copper resources have jumped by 38 per cent to 67 million tonnes, while contained uranium is up 27 per cent to 2.2 million tonnes. Contained gold resources have risen 11 per cent to about 11 per cent to almost 82 million ounces.
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