Toronto-based Global Atomic is to set up a 90%-owned Niger mining subsidiary after the Government of Niger formally confirmed it will not increase its ownership stake in the Dasa project beyond the legally mandated 10% minimum. The company plans to bring the project into full production by the end of 2024.
Niger's Minister of Mines Hadizatou Ousseini Yacouba expressed the government's confidence in the company to bring the mine into production and to deliver direct benefits to the country, through taxes, royalties and the government's 10% ownership interest and indirect benefits through employment and in-country procurement of mine supplies and services. She also noted the company's "exemplary" record on environmental, social and governance issues and pledged the government's full support for the Dasa project, Global Atomic said.
"This confirms our decision to enter Niger in 2005 in search of uranium deposits," Global Atomic President and CEO Stephen Roman said. "The Niger government has supported our extensive exploration programmes over the past 16 years, encouraged our development plans, and at the end of 2020 granted our mining permit in less than three months after we submitted our application."
The Dasa project is a high-grade uranium deposit that lies within the Adrar Emoles III licence area, 105 km south of the established uranium mining town of Arlit, in Niger. It has indicated resources of 101.6 million pounds U3O8 (39,080 tU) at a 1752 ppm cut-off and inferred resources at 87.6 million pounds U3O8 at 1781 ppm, according to an NI 43-101 technical report published in July 2019. The project is fully permitted for commercial production.
A preliminary economic assessment issued in April 2020 envisages the development of an underground mine and a mill with a 360,000 tonnes per year capacity to produce 4-5 million pounds U3O8 per year. Lower grade resources would be extracted in subsequent phases.
In June, Global Atomic said it is advancing negotiations with Orano Mining relating to direct shipments of ore from Dasa to Orano’s Somaïr uranium processing plant following successful testing of Dasa ore to confirm blending characteristics. A drilling programme planned to begin in September 2021 will focus on upgrading indicated and inferred mineral resources to measured and indicated categories. Groundbreaking for the box cut and mine portal is to begin in the first quarter of 2022.
"We plan to bring the 12-year Phase I of the Dasa Project into full production by the end of 2024 and add subsequent phases to extend the life of the mine for many decades," Roman said.