The end nears for Ranger uranium mine

The Ranger mine site. Image: Energy Resources of Australia

Energy Resources of Australia’s (ERA) Ranger mine in the Northern Territory is heading towards full closure as it explores rehabilitation options with parent company Rio Tinto.

Ranger’s rehabilitation program requires a further $296 million, taking the initial provision from $512 million up to $808 million.

The rise in costs are largely attributed to expenditures associated with additional water treatment, revegetation requirements and tailings transfer to pit three.

There has also been a hike in forecast costs relating to site services and owners’ costs.

Rehabilitation activities and funding plans are being finalised toward an expected completion in the first quarter of this year. Ranger’s rehabilitation feasibility study began in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The company said in an ASX statement that Rio Tinto would ensure ERA was in a position to meet the likely rehabilitation requirements of the Ranger project area.

ERA produced 1999 tonnes of uranium oxide at Ranger in 2018, including 613 tonnes during the December quarter.

Since the 1980s, Ranger has produced over 126,000 tonnes of uranium oxide under its various owners.

ERA also holds title to the Jabiluka mineral lease 22 kilometres north of Ranger. This deposit, along with the Ranger 3 Deeps exploration decline, is under long-term care and maintenance and will not be developed by ERA without the approval of the Mirarr Traditional Owners.

In 2015, ERA failed to receive permission to continue mining at Ranger from the Mirrar Traditional Owners and Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation beyond January 2021.

Ranger is eight kilometres east of Jabiru and 260 kilometres east of Darwin. It is the second uranium mine operated by Rio Tinto globally.

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