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Boss Energy and enCore’s Alta Mesa uranium project exceeds expectations with high-grade intersections

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By Colin Hay - 
Boss Energy ASX BOE enCore energy Alta Mesa Texas

Boss Energy’s (ASX: BOE) global expansion plans are off to a strong start with the latest drilling at its 30%-owned Alta Mesa uranium project in South Texas returning high-grade results.

Alta Mesa operator enCore Energy Corp – which owns the other 70% interest in the operation – said it had recorded the highest-grade intersections at the project since drilling activities restarted.

Notably, these results have significantly exceeded the cut-off thickness grade requirements for in-situ recovery (ISR) of uranium in South Texas.

Strategic Texas move

In February, Boss paid enCore around $92 million to acquire the 30% interest in Alta Mesa from its wholly owned subsidiary enCore Energy U.S. as part of its plans to add international assets to its Honeymoon uranium mine in South Australia.

The Alta Mesa central processing plant (CPP) and well-field hosts a fully-licensed and -constructed ISR uranium plant located on more than 200,000 acres of private land in Texas.

Total operating capacity at the Alta Mesa CPP is 1.5 million pounds of uranium per year.

The Alta Mesa CPP historically produced nearly 5Mlb of uranium between 2005 and 2013, when full production was curtailed as a result of low uranium prices.

Revitalising activities

enCore is currently undertaking activities to advance the CPP and well-field towards production, including the successful Alta Mesa production area authorisation (PAA) drilling.

It is reported to be ahead of schedule on its upgrades and refurbishment of the CPP in advance of a planned early 2024 resumption of uranium production.

Alta Mesa’s PAA-7 well-field is planned to include a total of 59 production wells with 36 extraction wells and 23 injection wells forming the start-up production patterns.

They have so far completed 57 of these wells, with the last two scheduled for completion over the next few days.

The wells are also being prepared for connection of the pipeline to the CPP.

Production from the well-field at Alta Mesa will be increased as additional production patterns are completed following the initial 59 wells and the company plans to duplicate the process used for the initial Alta Mesa start-up in 2005.

Drilling and well installation for the follow-on production patterns are already well underway and will continue as CPP capacity is reached.

CPP refurbishment

enCore says it has met most of the key objectives for the refurbishment of the processing circuits necessary for the planned restart.

It still has to complete a final inspection of the ion exchange (IX) columns, testing the precipitation tanks, completing tie-in of the scrubber system and installation and testing of the process circuit instrumentation.

Yellowcake drying circuit upgrades are also advancing, with the filter press support infrastructure and storage hoppers on site.

Refurbishment and testing of the yellowcake drying system is progressing and scheduled to be completed just prior to the anticipated production restart timelines.

The bulk chemical systems for the IX elution process have been installed and tested, while electrical systems including transformers and motor control centres have been completed.