Honeymoon conditions for skilled Broken Hill workers

By Paula Doran

Honeymoon Uranium Mine, north of Cockburn, will be looking for more than 80 workers to service the facility when it ramps up to production in the latter half of 2023.

That’s according to mine owner, Boss Energy’s Managing Director Duncan Craib, who said Broken Hill will be an area the company would be seeking to recruit workers from.

While the company is still in construction phase to upgrade and restart the Honeymoon operations, Mr Craib says the Far West of NSW, stretching to Adelaide, will form the catchment for future full-time, permanent employees.

He said the latest feasibility study had given the company confidence that the mine has a minimum 11-year-production life ahead of it. But that mine-life could double if satellite resources held by the company 80km to the west and 15km north-west are able to also be exploited.

The opportunity to restart Honeymoon after an 11-year dormant period was driven by multiple market factors.

“The commodity price has been in the doldrums but the uranium market is strengthening,” says Mr Craib.

“What has made the project viable though has been the ability to lower the operating costs by building the throughput.”

Mr Craib said through the adoption of ion exchange technology in the production process, Boss Energy would be able to produce a greater amount of saleable product.

“Ion exchange technology is dependent on resin, and it needs to cope with chloride or salinity in the water.

“The groundwater at Honeymoon is almost as salty as sea water, so we had to test a number of resins. With the assistance of a nuclear technician out of Canberra we were able to discover a resin that will cope with the conditions on-site, and that has been a game changer for us,” he said.

In industrial and domestic applications, ion-exchange resins are used for the removal of calcium, magnesium, iron, and manganese salts from water (water softening), for concentration of valuable elements, such as gold, silver, and in this case uranium, from mineral ores.

At Honeymoon, that new process means annual production will move from 880,000 pounds of uranium per annum to 2.4 million pounds per annum, bringing with it the increased earnings that make Honeymoon sparkle for Boss.

The company will do further drilling to define the resources at their satellite sites to confirm their potential. Initial assessment estimates point to a potential doubling of Honeymoon resource.

“What would happen is if it’s economic, we would then have to go through the mine license process for those two sites,” Mr Craib said.

“We would then build two small satellite ion exchange plants there, leach the uranium into the columns before trucking the resin bead to the existing plant at Honeymoon.”

Uranium produced at Honeymoon will be shipped to market from Adelaide.

“It’s fair to say that uranium is the most regulated form of mining in Australia,” Mr Craib said. “It’s incredibly strict. We are audited twice a year by a combined group of Federal and State inspectors who ensure compliance in extraction to even how we manage the flora and fauna onsite.

Mr Craib said product sales in the global market were limited to those countries with civil needs, as part of the Nuclear Proliferation Act.

“Our product will eventually go global. We are fielding strong interest from North America, Western Europe, South Korea and Japan.”

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