Peninsula Energy Ltd (ASX:PEN) has completed the laboratory phase of optimisation work at its Lance Uranium Project in the USA with a second low-PH field demonstration underway to confirm laboratory results at a near to commercial scale.
This work continues pre-development activities at the Wyoming project, which is transitioning to a low pH ISR process.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, Peninsula will focus on key site-specific technical process development and optimisation activities to fully prepare Lance as the only commercial low pH InSitu (ISR) operation in the US.
Shares have been as much as 15% higher to A$0.073 intra-day.
The company is well funded to advance Lance with a cash holding of approximately US$12 million at June 30, 2020, no term debt and forecast net cash margins of between US$6 million and US$8 million for 2021 from its uranium sales contract book.
Managing director and CEO Wayne Heili said: “Developments in the uranium market have been highlighted by limited global production and restraint of mid to long term purchasing activities by end-users, which indicates a strong likelihood of increasing price and purchasing activity over the coming months and years.
“Peninsula will use its strong balance sheet to sensibly progress Lance with the advantage of knowing that if markets warrant, we could make an investment decision in parallel to the optimisation workstreams and be in commercial production within a six-month timeframe.
“The US domestic uranium industry needs to focus on innovative means to economically produce uranium for the domestic and global nuclear fuel markets.
“We believe that the test programs we have designed and will conduct over the coming 12 to 18 months will generate long term value and benefits for our Project and for our shareholders.”
Additional column leach studies
To further investigate the use of low pH lixiviates (ISR leach solutions), Strata collected fresh core samples from an area that had not been impacted by alkaline ISR production operations (now the MU1A area).
Side by side columns were prepared to explore differences in ‘soft’ (slow) and ‘hard’ (rapid) start-up acidification procedures and the subsequent acid requirements.
Care was taken to ensure core was not unnecessarily exposed to the atmosphere during preparation of the test columns.
While the 'hard' acidification procedure, the standard process in all prior testing, delivered better results, neither column generated results that were comparable to previous column tests.
A hypothesis was developed that the introduction of an oxidant may be necessary to effect rapid uranium dissolution when the mineral is not previously oxidised by alkaline mining.
There was an immediate positive response as the uranium grade quadrupled.
Licence amendment applications
License amendment applications are being prepared for the use of oxidants with the low-pH ISR process and for the use of the ponds for solids management in future operations.
Current licences and permits for Lance allow use of oxidants and the ponds during the limited scale field demonstration without amendments.
Peninsula Energy can also begin low-pH operations without these process enhancements, which were not described in the original low-pH amendment approvals.
Starting in previously mined areas where oxidant is not necessary will allow time for the completion of the desired licence amendments prior to commencing production activities in new mining units.
The company expects completion of these identified licence amendment activities by mid to late 2021.