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Boss Energy prepares for first uranium drum to be filled from rejuvenated Honeymoon mine

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By Colin Hay - 
Boss Energy ASX BOE Honeymoon uranium ion exchange

Boss Energy (ASX: BOE) has achieved a critical technical milestone in its Honeymoon re-start strategy, paving the way for the first drum of uranium to be filled in the next fortnight at the South Australian mine.

The company has successfully filled the processing plant ion exchange (IX) column with uranium-rich lixiviant (a leaching fluid) from the Honeymoon wellfields, where loaded resin will result in the production of concentrated high-grade eluate.

“Since acquiring Honeymoon, Boss’ strategy has been to increase the uranium tenor in the wellfield feed solution to the plant and develop a larger processing facility utilising IX technology,” managing director Duncan Craib said.

“This approach is to improve the economics of the project by increasing production rates and reducing operating costs.”

“We have now achieved both of these key goals and as a result are set to fill our first drum with uranium in coming days”.

Production activities underway

At the same time, Boss is ramping up mining activities at Honeymoon to support the production profile.

Lixiviant is now being optimised and continuously injected into the orebody through the injector wells.

The lixiviant moves through the ore zones within that horizon, dissolving the uranium mineralisation at its origin (i.e., “in situ”) and producing a uranium-rich fluid which is then pumped to the surface through the extractor wells.

The installed pipelines at surface are now transporting the pregnant, uranium-rich lixiviant from the wellfields to the Honeymoon processing plant and being fed into the IX circuit for uranium recovery.

High uranium tenors

The resin-filled IX circuit adsorption columns help effectively recover the high tenors of uranium from the pregnant leach solution.

The loaded resin is being transferred to the elution columns where uranium will be recovered to a concentrated high-grade eluate.

Over the next two weeks, the concentrated high-grade eluate will be recovered through the upgraded precipitation circuit to produce uranium peroxide hydrate and then calcined to produce a high-quality saleable uranium oxide product.

Uranium is being chemically extracted until the solution is said to be “barren”, or no longer rich in uranium during the IX production process.

The remaining barren liquor will be refortified with acid and oxidant before it is recycled back to the wellfield to repeat the dissolution process.

Back in action

The imminent production of uranium at the historic Honeymoon uranium project is a major achievement for Boss, who acquired the shut down operation in 2015.

The Honeymoon mine became Australia’s second operating in-situ recovery uranium mine when it commenced production in 2011.

Operations at Honeymoon were suspended in November 2013 in response to uranium prices falling to around US$44 per pound.

The timing of the re-start couldn’t be better, with uranium prices currently on a high and sitting near US$88/lb.