Samphire Uranium Project, South Australia
Media release, 29 August 2023
Field Recovery Trial consultation period
Alligator Energy has applied to the SA Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) for a Retention Lease to conduct a pilot Field Recovery Trial at its Samphire Uranium Project, located approximately 20km south of Whyalla on the Eyre Peninsula.
On Wed 23rd August the DEM commenced a public review and consultation period for this application, and in the following media release we have included a link directly to the DEM Website page which hosts the Retention Lease and Field Recovery Trial submission documents.
Location and Mineral Resource
The Samphire Project is located 20km south of Whyalla in regional South Australia and was acquired in October 2020. Being in Australia’s most uranium experienced and supportive state brings the benefits of having established regulatory procedures and uranium transport logistics.
To date, there have been five approved uranium mines in South Australia, including Olympic Dam which is an underground mine; and Beverley, Beverley North, Four Mile, and Honeymoon, which are all mined via In Situ Recovery, often referred to as ‘ISR’.
Samphire comprises two uranium historical prospects (Blackbush and Plumbush) on Alligator Energy’s Exploration Licences 5926 & 6350, with further Licence applications surrounding the project pending approval.
Following infill and extensional drilling by Alligator, the Indicated portion of the Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) increased in March 2023 from the initial MRE announced for the Blackbush deposit in September 2022. The MRE contains 18.1 million pounds of U3O8 (combined Inferred and Indicated) from 11.4 million tonnes at 720 ppm U3O8.
This Mineral Resource Estimate applies only to lithologies that are amenable to ISR and have a cut-off grade of 250 ppm U3O8, with the goal of identifying a potentially ISR-mineable resource.
Ongoing drilling at the Blackbush Deposit is focused on three key goals: further conversion of the resource from Inferred to Indicated categories, to follow-up the extensions of the known high-grade zones, and to test areas where historical data outside the resource show the potential for additional mineralisation.
The drilling in the western channel extension of Blackbush West has found some of the highest uranium grades recorded to date at Samphire, including 1.04 metres at 2.02% (20,200ppm) pU3O8 from 70.4 metres, including 0.5 metres @ 3.54% pU3O8 from 70.6 metres.
In addition, our review of historical exploration confirms the high quality of work done by the previous owners, with intersects at Blackbush such at 15.9 metres at 3,000ppm in hole MRM881 including 4.5m at 1.02% eU3O8.
Samphire also contains the Plumbush deposit (5kms to the south of the Blackbush Deposit) with a historical uranium resource estimate published by Uranium SA in April 2011. While no new work has been undertaken here to date, initial discussions with the pastoral landowner regarding access have been held with the goal of progressing groundwork.
Proposed Project Development Approach
Alligator Energy is seeking to develop Blackbush as an ISR project which will enable us to achieve a very low impact footprint compared to conventional open pit or underground mining.
ISR enables the recovery of uranium by essentially reversing the natural process that deposited the uranium in the first place. The highly saline groundwater within the sedimentary sand layer that hosts the orebody is conditioned to mobilise the uranium back into solution, which is then drawn to the recovery wells. ISR mining is an effective and economic uranium extraction method and accounts for ~60% of the world’s current uranium production and has been successfully operated in South Australia since 1998.
Through this method, there is no digging or moving tonnes of overburden in the same way that you would see in an open cut or underground mine. ISR is sometimes known as “invisible” mining due to this extremely low visual impact.
Following detailed stakeholder and community engagement and the receipt of all necessary regulatory approvals, Alligator is proposing to conduct a small-scale, short-term Field Recovery Trial (FRT) using the ISR method in late 2023.
The purpose of the FRT is to develop a better understanding of the recoverability of uranium from the underlying sediments (about 60 to 80 metres below the surface) via the ISR solution mining method.
The work will also gather additional hydrogeological and other technical data that is important in understanding the economics of the project and to prove that the deposit can be effectively and safely mined. Small Field trials have been undertaken previously in South Australia and around the world as a precursor to more detailed feasibility studies.
Whereas full-scale ISR mining may use between 100-200 recovery wells at a time, AGE’s FRT will consist of 3 recovery wells with a number of injection wells. Upon completion, the well infrastructure and containerised pilot processing plant on the site will be removed, and the site remediated. Alligator looks forward to updating investors on progress toward this trial.
Note: pU3O8 indicates grade measured by Prompt Fission Neutron (PFN) downhole probe, eU3O8 indicates grade measured by gamma downhole probe.