Malawi – Paladin Energy, the ASX-listed uranium player, expects to conclude the re-start study for its Malawi-based Kayelekera mine, which is currently on care and maintenance (C&M).

The company made this announcement when it released its quarterly results yesterday.

Kayelekera was first placed on C&M in February 2014 following Paladin’s inability to mine and run it profitably with very weak uranium prices. To date the situation remains the same. The mine requires higher uranium prices to operate ‘comfortably’.

The 85% owned Kayelekera operation remains a substantial strategic asset as the operation provides Paladin with the ability to increase its overall production by 2.5 Mlb to 3 Mlb pa when uranium prices justify this additional production. Over 50% of the known reserves and resources remain for future exploration as well as additional upside exploration potential.

Paladin Energy Langer Heinrich Mine
Langer Heinrich mine

Paladin Energy’s only operating mine is Langer Heinrich, situated in Namibia. It also owns numerous tenements across Niger, Australia and Canada.

Langer Heinrich production for the March quarter was down 10% from the last quarter at 1.23 Mlb uranium oxide (U3O8).  This was largely due to the failure of a pre-leach thickener feed well at the plant in February. This event took 12 days to repair and recommission and adversely impacted production by over 100 000 lb U3O8.

Activities on site at Kayelekera

Throughout the past quarter activities on site have focussed on optimising water treatment for the controlled discharge of treated water in order to maintain the site’s water balance in a secure and safe state during the C&M period.

The controlled release successfully commenced post the close of the March quarter on 12 April 2015 with officials from the Malawian Water Resources and Environmental Departments in attendance.

In January the company reported some minor storm damage on site resulting in a surge of run-off water causing the liner in the plant run-off tank to rupture. This released about 500 m³ of material into the containment areas of the site with a very small quantity (50 litres) possibly overtopping one of the containment bunds.

As also reported previously a sampling programme to analyse water from within the local stream system was undertaken and this confirmed that no contamination occurred. These findings were also confirmed by independent external laboratories operating outside of the country who analysed duplicate samples with results reported to the relevant Malawian authorities.

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