One of the worlds leading uranium mine projects is being placed under care and maintenance, as stockpiles are close to exhaustion and falling commodity prices.
Paladin Energy announced in a statement this week that is exploring options for the future of its Langer Heinrich Mine (LHM), including “preparatory steps being taken for a potential care and maintenance decision.”
In recent months, Paladin had disclosed that the medium grade ore stockpiles, currently being used for the processing feed for the processing plant at LHM are expected to be “exhausted before mid-2019.”
“A decision needs to be made at least six months prior to the exhaustion of those stockpiles as to whether to restart physical mining, process low grade stockpiles or place LHM on care and maintenance,” the company said in a statement.
LHM has been in operation since 2007 and soon became recognised as a world-class open-pit uranium mine. More than 3.7 million pounds of uranium was produced at the site in 2017 but in recent months physical mining was curtailed with the plant being fed by historically mined medium grade stockpiled ore.
Commenting on the potential placing of LHM under care and maintenance, CEO Alex Molyneux said: “The uranium market has railed to recover since the Fukushjima Incident in 2011, with the average spot price so far in 2018 the lowest in 15-years.”
“Its deeply depressing to have to consider suspending operations at LHM because of the consequences for our employees, and the broader community. However, as there has yet to be a sustainable recovery in the uranium market and with the aim of preserving maximum long-term value for all stakeholders, it clearly prudent to consider these difficult actions.”