Boss Energy on Honeymoon with uranium project development on target
Boss Energy (ASX: BOE) is celebrating the arrival onsite of the first set of NIMCIX loading and elution columns for the new Ion Exchange (IX) circuit, a key milestone at its Honeymoon Uranium project in South Australia.
Boss selected IX technology as a central component of its Honeymoon processing plant as the company is confident it will enable highly efficient capture, concentration and purification of the uranium from the wellfields.
Globally renowned technology
IX has been embraced by many of the largest global uranium producers such as Husab in Namibia, Ranger in Australia, and Priargunski / Krasnokamensk in Russia.
Managing director Duncan Craib said the use of the popular technology will lead to increased throughput, more production and lower costs than was possible using the solvent extraction system previously employed at Honeymoon.
Boss confirmed that upside during extensive testing undertaken by the company and leading independent industry experts, before and during the Honeymoon feasibility studies.
Driving project efficiencies
Mr Craib said the IX circuit would drive efficiencies at Honeymoon, increasing production throughput to nameplate capacity of 2.45Mlb/annum of U3O8 while reducing ramp up time and technical risks.
It will also reduce operating costs to industry benchmarks, including a forecast AISC of $38 per pound and cash costs of less than $30 per pound.
“IX is used in the vast majority of uranium in-situ leach operations in Kazakhstan, the USA and Australia. In terms of operating and capital costs, IX has significant advantages over all other technologies,” Mr Craib said.
“Honeymoon is one of the world’s most advanced uranium development projects and is being fast- tracked to re-start production in Q4 2023. The first set of loading and elution columns will be sufficient to enable Boss to commission the project and commence production. Another five sets will be added as part of the subsequent production ramp up.”
December start-up on schedule
The company has also received the majority of steel required for the IX tower reconfiguration as Honeymoon continues to progress towards start-up.
In its most recent quarterly report Boss declared that Honeymoon remains on target to achieve first uranium production in the December quarter.
The company also confirmed that it had already hit the 79% expenditure mark of the committed budget of $105 million total.
That spending saw the company complete the first wellfield and related gypsum pond and water treatment plant.
Work is also underway to flush the startup wellfields.
Third uranium producer
Mr Craib said Boss is completely focused on executing its plan, which will see it become Australia’s third uranium producer in the coming quarter.
“We are also extremely encouraged by the strong progress being made on site and the ongoing tightness in the uranium market, which augurs very well for the spot price over coming months.”
“This is reflected in the rising level of inbound inquiries we are receiving in respect to offtake and long-term contracts generally.”
“Given we are fully funded through to production, with cash on hand of $89 million and a strategic uranium stockpile valued at $106 million based on current spot prices, as well as no debt, we are in the enviable position of being able to enter offtake arrangements when we deem the market position to be highly desirable.”
Honeymoon to have sizeable impact on exports
In the Australian government’s most recent Resources and Energy quarterly forecasts, Honeymoon was accredited with being on the verge of significantly adding to the nation’s uranium exports.
According to forecasts, Australian exports are set to increase from around 5,560 tonnes in 2022–23 to approximately 6,000 tonnes by 2024–25, spurred by the expected opening and ramp-up of Honeymoon.
It’s projected that Honeymoon’s input, in conjunction with improving prices, will result in a surge in the nation’s uranium export values from around $780 million in 2022–23 to an impressive $900 million by 2024–25.
As for the uranium price, expectations are for it to reach around $95 a pound by 2025. This anticipated growth reflects the impact of sustained low investment and potential structural shortfalls in the uranium supply.