Mantra and Uranex get govt nod to mine uranium in Tanzania

Monday September 14 2009

A uranium mine site in northern Saskatchewan. Tanzania expects to start mining uranium by 2011, its energy and mineral minister said. Photo/FILE

A uranium mine site in northern Saskatchewan. The Tanzanian government has given Mantra and Uranex rights to mine uranium in the country. Photo/FILE 

By JOSEPH MWAMUNYANGE

Uranium mining company Mantra Resources Ltd (Mantra) of South Africa and Uranex have been given the go ahead by the Tanzania government to mine uranium after they met all environmental conditions as mandated by the National Environment Management Council.

Mantra expects to complete a pre-feasibility study anytime now, ahead of the awarding and commencement of a full feasibility study.

In a statement to The EastAfrican, Mantra said that the infill and exploration drilling is also currently being undertaken ahead of the project.

The drilling programmes are scheduled to be concluded by December and will be followed by a revised resource estimate expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2010.

The results of Mantra’s drilling at the company’s flagship Mkuju River Project in southern Tanzania have confirmed the presence of multiple thick zones of sandstone-hosted uranium mineralisation at shallow depths at the Nyota Prospect.

An inferred mineral resource of 35.9 million pounds (U3O8 ) has been estimated for the prospect. This initial resource estimate is based on drilling that covers only a small part of the total area of the prospect, and the potential exists to substantially grow the resource base with ongoing work.

Minister for Energy and Minerals William Ngeleja said that two companies will engage in mining of uranium in the next three years.

Mr Ngeleja said that the deposits at Naumutumbo were estimated at 35.9 million pounds of uranium oxide.

The results of a recently completed scoping study have confirmed the technical and economic viability of the project, and its capacity to operate with strong cash margins.

Using the current resource estimate as a base case scenario, the project can support a minimum annual production of 2.5 million pounds U3O8 for a minimum 10-year mine life.

Mantra has an established strategic alliance with Highland Park SA (includes original founders and former executives of LionOre Mining International Ltd), strong cash reserves and recently announced that it intends to seek a dual listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange later this year.

Uranex’s area of exploration has an estimated 6.7 million pounds of uranium oxide.

Tanzania has about 53.9 million pounds of uranium oxide deposits.

The government recently allayed public fears over the mining of uranium. Deputy Minister for Energy and Minerals Adam Malima said that environmental, health, economic and social impacts will be carefully considered.

Mr Malima said that the government was aware of the high safety standards required for the mining of uranium to safeguard lives and the environment.

While Mantra is involved in the exploration at Namtumbo, Uranex is working on the Bahi project in Dodoma with an estimated 6.7 million pounds.
The two companies are among 20 licensed to explore for uranium in the country.

The development in Tanzania comes at a time when activists in neighbouring Malawi were up in arms against the location of a uranium mining project.

It has been reported that the activists were against the mining company for failing to adhere to environmental concerns around the operation involving water contamination of the rivers that flow into Lake Malawi.

The lake is a major source of potable water and fish in Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique.