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Global Atomic outlines viable Dasa economics

Uranium developer Global Atomic Corporation has published an updated preliminary economic assessment on its flagship Dasa uranium project in Niger, based on what it describes as an optimised mine plan capable of turning a profit even at current depressed prices.
Global Atomic outlines viable Dasa economics Global Atomic outlines viable Dasa economics Global Atomic outlines viable Dasa economics Global Atomic outlines viable Dasa economics Global Atomic outlines viable Dasa economics

Global Atomic has released an updated PEA for its Dasa uranium project in Niger, demonstrating a viable operation in a low-price environment

The optimised mine plan considers a smaller, lower-capex operation leading on to a yet-to-be-determined larger future mine.

Using a base case uranium price of US$35/lb, the PEA calculated an after-tax NPV (8% discount) of $211 million and an IRR of 26.6%, compared with the October 2018 PEA that assumed a base price of $50/lb resulting in an NPV of $299 million and an IRR of 25%.

The capex figure dropped to $203 million, including a 20% contingency, from the prior estimate of $320 million.

The new mine plan is scoped for a much smaller starter operation producing 4.4Mlb/y of yellowcake at all-in sustaining cost of $18.39/lb over an initial 12-year mine life, compared with the previous plan to produce 7Mlb/y in an initial development scenario at AISC of $28.51/lb.

"The study demonstrates that the Dasa project can be a significant new supplier of uranium in the form of yellowcake even in this low uranium price environment," said CEO Stephen Roman.

"This ranks our project in the lowest quartile of the global cost curve. If we apply a long-term uranium price of $50/lb, the project IRR increases to 46.3% and the NPV to $485 million."

The new development plan is a lower-capex route into production that uses conventional underground mining and a processing technology similar to that used by the two existing uranium mines in Niger. This mine plan also provides future access to the more than 200Mlb contained uranium inventory in the mine's deeper horizons.

The optimised mine plan initially targets high-grade mineralisation underpinned by the "game-changer Flank Zone discovery" that starts from 70m depth. Dasa currently hosts about 101.6Mlb of uranium oxide in the indicated category, held in 26.3Mt grading 1,752 parts per million, with a further 87.6Mlb inferred.

Roman is confident the low current spot price below $30/lb will not last, saying future uranium market fundamentals are encouraging, driven by robust demand for nuclear power generation and the "pressing need" for scalable low-carbon energy sources.

"Primary mine-supply of uranium continues to dwindle and secondary sources of uranium are tightening. A lack of new projects scheduled to come online below a $50/lb incentive price, means this is an opportune time to advance the development of the Dasa project," he said.

The next milestone for the Dasa is producing a final technical report to incorporate more work currently underway, including hydrogeological and environmental impact assessment studies. This will become the key mining permit application document that will be submitted to the Niger government later this year. Once the mine permit is issued, Global Atomic will be in a position to finalise the engineering needed to construct the project.

The company has in place a memorandum of understanding with French nuclear giant Orano Mining, signed in July 2017, to supply at least 100,000t of uranium ore for five years to its nearby Arlit plant. Negotiations between the partners continue, and it could materially reduce the upfront capex component.

The company said further value opportunities existed in extending the mine-life beyond the initial 12 years by tapping the large volume of inferred material found at the flat-lying portions of the graben between 400-800m depth that could be mined in the future. The deposit also remains open along strike and at depth.

Global Atomic (GLO:TSX) closed down 1% Wednesday at C45c, which capitalises it at $65.5 million (US$46 million). The stock has ranged between 23-56c over the past 12 months.