Langer Heinrich recorded an increase in production of 2,537 tonnes, up 5.7% from the previous year’s total of 2,401 tonnes U3O8 and 2.8%.
LH has also been severely hit by the plummeting uranium spot prices worldwide, while major consumers of the product are opting for safer sources of energy.
The anti-nuclear campaign worldwide is being spearheaded by Germany, which was a major consumer of uranium products until recently.
LH mine, which also recently sold a huge stake to the Chinese, is mooting plans to increase production at its lower unit cost to sustain its operations in a period where uranium spot prices continue to tumble.
The company, in its latest annual financial results released by their parent company Paladin Energy, says the move is meant to improve efficiencies of the company and operability.
“Future production and possible expansion options are being viewed to allow the treating of much lower feed grade are still being considered and advanced. Various evaluations have been completed or planned on piloting and testing programmes to test the most promising options and enhancements.
The goal of this work is to increase production at lower unit costs and at lower grades. The focus is also on improved process efficiencies and operability,” the company noted in their financials.
LHM added that, “With the declining uranium price, initiatives to reduce the operating and unit costs at LHM continued to be front and centre, with a number of improvements identified and implemented.”
Following the sale of a 25% equity stake to Overseas Uranium Holding Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation, Paladin owns 75% of LHM in Namibia through its Namibian subsidiary, Langer Heinrich Uranium (Pty) Ltd (LHUPL).
Commenting on the company’s performance, Managing Director of the company, John Borshoff, said LH is still pinning its hopes on a better future.“There is hope however. Paladin has just completed its 4th annual supply/demand analysis, which is very much derived from a supply side expertise and I would like to share with you some of the key findings of this study. This, by the way, broadly aligns with the Cameco3 findings and, where we differ is in the timing of price recovery – we say 6 to 12 months and they say 12 months to 18-24 months,” Borshoff said.
He added that, “Our study shows a widening supply gap starting in 2016. Term contracting of uranium is behind schedule, especially in the US, thanks mainly to procrastination due to Fukushima.
The US utilities now need to act fast to fill their term contract needs for the 2016-2021 period. This is normally done 18-24 months beforehand, meaning the uranium price reacts well before a period of actual shortage and, in this current situation, we would expect a positive price reaction in the next 6 to 12 months.”
Paladin purchased the Langer Heinrich project in August 2002 and, following development and construction, production commenced from the open pit mine and conventional alkaline leach plant in early 2007, with annual production of 2.7Mlb of U3O8 achieved in 2008/2009.
Soon afterwards, a Stage two expansion was undertaken to increase production to 3.7Mlb pa U3O8, followed by construction and commissioning of the Stage 3 expansion, completed in financial year 2012.
The mine has produced consistently at a rate of over 5.2Mlb pa U3O8 for the past 12 months.
Langer Heinrich has a surficial, calcrete type uranium deposit containing a Mineral Resource of 61,787t U3O8 at a grade of 0.052% U3O8 in the Measured and Indicated categories (including ROM stockpiles) and 10,246t U3O8 at a grade of 0.06% U3O8 of Inferred material (250ppm U3O8 cut-off grade) in seven mineralised zones designated Detail 1 to 7 (see figure below), along the length of the Langer Heinrich valley within the 15km length of a contiguous paleodrainage system.
The deposit is located in the Namib Desert, 80km from the major seaport of Walvis Bay.
Paladin also has other operations in Malawi and Canada.