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New technology to enhance uranium mow at Kayelekera

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Expectations are high that Lotus Resources Limited will enhance its harvest of uranium at Kayelekera Mine in Karonga District following the adoption of technology used for harvesting the commodity called ore sorting.

A recent interview with some international media by Lotus’ Managing Director Keith Bowes indicates that the company engaged in a study last year on ways that could impact on cash costs in its operations, one of which was the technology.

The study showed that the material at Kayerekela is suitable for ore sorting.

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“There are a couple of things that ore sorting can do for Kayelekera. On a simple basis, if we take something that has about 400 ppm of uranium in it, which for us is a relatively low grade, put that in an ore sorting unit, and we are able to increase that grade to 700 or 800 ppm or so and then feed that to the main plant, it becomes a lot more economic for us to treat.

“We are looking at two different types of sensors, a colour sensor and a density sensor—in reality the solution will be a combination of both sensors. For example, a very high density material which is light in colour, but because of the density we know is rich with uranium, will be denied by the colour sensor and accepted by the density sensor and material which in dark in colour but light in density will be accepted by the colour sensor and denied by the density sensor,” Bowes said.

One of the local employees of the company who did not want to be named indicated that the company plans to treat some of the residues left over by previous owners of the mine to recover uranium using the new technology.

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He said the new technology had shown ability to harvest uranium as low as 100 ppm from rocks.

The source further said the company was still waiting for international prices of uranium to pick up before entering the market.

“What this means is that we might be able to enter the market soon because without this technology to make profits would require a very high price; for example, Paladin was looking at $75 per pound (Lbs) but, with this technology, for the project to be profitable it would require prices less than that,” he said.

Local mining expert Grain Malunga emphasised that the development did not necessarily mean that there had been discovery of increased volumes of uranium in the mine but just enhanced technology for getting the same value.

“The amount of uranium that is available at Kayerekera has not changed but that the new technology will help get uranium from materials that could be thrown away for low content,” Malunga said.

The price of uranium is around $31 per Lb.

Lotus Resources completed the acquisition of Kayelekera Uranium Mine in March this year from Paladin Energy.

Kayelekera has more than $200 million invested in plant and infrastructure and used to produces uranium from 2009 to 2014.

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