Stalled since 2015, the Imouraren uranium project in Niger is receiving new interest from two-thirds owner Orano. The project had reached the feasibility stage, but uranium prices were low, so the economics of developing an open pit operation were not positive.
Now, with a new look at production using low-cost in situ recovery (ISR) and with today’s stronger uranium markets, Imouraren is getting another look. If the project does go forward with ISR, it will be the first time the technology has been applied to a uranium mine in Niger. Orano is looking at 2024 to start piloting the method. (A production decision would not be made before 2028.)
The Imouraren deposit was discovered in 1966 and Orano was awarded an operating licence in 2009. Its partner is the Niger government. Orano believes the deposit contains one of the largest reserves in the world.
Currently, the probable reserve at Imouraren is 306 million tonnes grading 0.07% uranium oxide (U3O8) and containing approximately 471.3 million lb. of uranium. The indicated resource is 108.7 million tonnes at 0.06% U3O8, containing about 138 million lb., and the inferred resource is 4.4 million tonnes at 0.07% U3O8, containing about 94.5 million lb. of uranium.
Orano currently operates the Somair uranium mine and processing plant and owns the closed Cominak project in Niger.
Learn more about Orano’s commitment to uranium for both clean energy and nuclear medicine on www.OranoGroup.com.