ERA reports falls in uranium production

ERA's December 2009 quarter report has shown a drop in overall production.

The latest production report from uranium miner Energy Resources Australia (ERA) has shown that the company’s production fell 30% when compared to the same period last year.

Darwin-based ERA produced 1,140 tonnes of uranium oxide in the December 2009 quarter, which also represents a 19% drop from the September quarter.

Much of the decline was attributed to maintenance and safety work carried out on the south wall of the company’s Ranger mine in the Northern Territory.

According to ERA chief financial officer and acting chief executive Steeve Thibeault, the decrease in production numbers can also be attributed to a matter of timing.

“What reduced our production rate was the ore grade, and that was because of the mine scheduling,” he told MINING DAILY.

“Most likely our current schedule for mining is showing a lower grade for the first half and a higher grade for the second half of the year.”

Overall oxide production for the year saw a far more modest decline, with 5,240 tonnes produced in 2009, a 2% drop from the 5,339 tonnes in 2008.

Uranium sales for 2009 saw ERA record its third highest ever total, with overall sales of uranium oxide at 5,497 tonnes, up from 5,272 in 2008.

The average realised 2009 sales price achieved by the company was US$50.84 per pound, a 56% jump on 2008 prices of US$32.53 per pound.

“The current market is favourable,” Thibeault said.

“The future is around our capacity to produce the quantity and sell it.”

Global uranium demand is set to increase as more countries move towards nuclear power as the look to reduce carbon emissions.

ERA also said that it is moving closer to the planned expansion of its Ranger 3 Deeps ore deposit, with evaluation studies expected to be completed by the middle of 2010.

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