Renewed uranium interest to accelerate mine development - Chamber

May 30, 2022

The Chamber of Mines says renewed interest in uranium as a sustainable, carbon neutral and environmentally friendly source of base-load energy is a positive development for Namibia’s uranium sector.

Chamber of Mines CEO, Veston Malango said the rapidly improving uranium price is likely to accelerate the development of mines on care and maintenance.

“The rapidly improving uranium price is likely to accelerate the development of Paladin’s Langer Heinrich uranium mine and Orano’s Trekkopje mine. Paladin has a clear restart plan for the Langer Heinrich mine, and is currently raising equity to fund operational restart,” Malango told The Brief.

He said the improving uranium market has also induced a significant increase in exploration for uranium in Namibia, with exploration companies who are members of the Chamber having spent just over N$85 million on exploration in 2021.

“We believe this number to be far higher as there are active uranium exploration companies in Namibia that are not part of the Chamber,” the Chamber of Mines CEO said.

He said Chamber expected Reptile Uranium’s Tumas project and Bannerman’s Etango project to enter mine development once the hurdle uranium price of US$65 is reached.

“Reptile Uranium finished its Pre-Feasibility study on its Tumas project and has made significant progress in completing a Definitive Feasibility study. Bannerman has also completed a Pre-Feasibility study of its scaled down Etango project, known as Etango-8 and is similarly moving towards definitive stages. Both projects are expected to enter mine development once the hurdle uranium price of US$65 is reached, so we expect two new uranium mines to come on stream in the near future,” Malango said.

Finance Minister Ipumbu Shiimi told Bloomberg in Davos that “There are a number of uranium projects in the pipeline just waiting for the price to recover.If the price reaches $65 to $70 a pound, then that will trigger more investment in uranium.”

Spot prices for uranium have doubled from lows of US$28 per pound last year to US$64 in April, sparking a fresh interest in restarting projects set aside after a 2011 earthquake and tsunami which crippled Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Uranium prices began to rise in mid-2021 as several countries seeking to limit climate change said they aimed to move back to nuclear power as a source of carbon-free energy.

China plans to build 150 new reactors between 2020 and 2035 and Japan also aims to boost nuclear capacity as does South Korea.

In Europe, Britain has committed to build one new nuclear plant every year while France plans to build 14 new reactors and the European Union has proposed counting nuclear plants as a green investment.

John Ciampaglia, CEO of Sprott Asset Management, which runs the Sprott Physical Uranium Trust ,forecasts uranium could hit US$100 per pound in the long run, with prices having once peaked at around US$140 per pound in 2007 according to Reuters.

Namibia currently has only two mines producing the nuclear fuel - Rossing Uranium Mine and Husab Uranium - controlled by Chinese investors.


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Last modified on Tuesday, 31 May 2022 19:36