Lake Maitland to stand alone

TORO Energy has redesigned the proposed plant and processing flowsheet and added an initial beneficiation step for a standalone Lake Maitland uranium-vanadium mining and processing operation, as part of the Wiluna uranium project.
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Wiluna uranium mine landscape

Toro said it was well advanced in its evaluation of a costs estimate for the operations at Lake Maitland.

Lake Maitland will produce vanadium as a by-product of uranium ore through a screening and de-sliming beneficiation circuit.

The revamped flowsheet reduces the size and cost of the proposed hydrometallurgical processing plant from $134.1 million to $93.7 million.

By concentrating the uranium Toro can save on reagents, as less reagent is needed to precipitate and extract the uranium.

It also significantly decreases the size of the leach tank needed as well as the residence time in the leach circuit, with the increase in post-leach liquor concentration also reducing equipment size downstream of the leach.

Replacing direct precipitation with ion exchange in the processing circuit also cuts costs by removing the need for additional refining.

The ion exchange circuit will increase the concentration of uranium in the feed to the extraction facility and reduce the size of the extraction facility by as much as one third.

A scoping study is underway at Lake Maitland with pit re-optimisation work completed by SRK Consulting.

That work showed the Lake Maitland option would bring a 167% increase in potential ore, from 13.2 million tonnes to 35.2Mt, with a 50% increase in potential uranium production to 23.5 million pounds, from 15.8Mlb.

There will be 12.2Mlbs of vanadium pentoxide turned out as a by-product.

Mine life increases 74% despite a 54% increase in processing throughput.

Toro hopes to cash in on growing demand for nuclear energy in Japan as the country restarts its nuclear plants and develops next generation reactors.

The company has struck a deal with Japanese companies Japan Australia Uranium Resources Development and Itochu that gives them rights to earn a combined 35% interest in the Lake Maitland project by paying $58.31 million, conditional on a final investment decision being made.

Toro told the Australian Securities Exchange that since the date for the start of activity contained in the state environmental approval for the Wiluna uranium project had passed, it would have to, under WA's Environmental Protection Act, ask for an extension of time.

"It is also envisaged that favourable results from studies may also necessitate an amendment to the subject of each environmental approval received," the company said.