When Uranium Energy Corp., a U.S. based uranium exploration/development/production company, recently provided a progress report indicating that various required environmental approvals had either been received or were anticipated, it was a testament to the advances in uranium mining that have been developed over the years. In particular, UEC employs what is called in-situ recovery, or ISR, at its Palangana uranium project in South Texas, where the company has just completed its first full year of production.
ISR is injected-solution mining that essentially reverses the natural process that deposited the uranium in the sandstones in the first place. With ISR, ground water is fortified with gaseous oxygen and introduced to the uranium ore body through a pattern of injection wells. The uranium was in an oxidized form at one time, but nature reduced it during the natural ground water deposit process that occurred eons ago. This solution injection approach reverses that natural process, easily dissolving the uranium from its sandstone host. The uranium-bearing solution is then brought back to the surface using production wells.
The uranium is then concentrated on special resin beads and trucked to the company’s own nearby Hobson processing plant. At Hobson, the uranium is further concentrated and dried into yellowcake for delivery to market. Outside of the U.S., where environmental laws are less restrictive, acid leaching may be used.
At Palangana, after just the first year of production, 236,000 pounds of U3O8 were produced at an average cash cost of $16 per pound. Of the 236,000 pounds produced, UEC has sold 120,000 pounds at an average price of $52 per pound, generating revenues of $6.2 million. The company still has 116,000 pounds available for sale in inventory with a market value of $6.0 million.
For more information, see the company website at www.UraniumEnergy.com
Let us hear your thoughts below: