Ranger mine suspension extended

Energy Resources Australia (ERA)’s Ranger mine operations continue to be suspended as a result of flooding across northern and eastern Australia.

The initial decision to close the mine for 12 weeks to ensure levels at the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) remained low was made in January, but the region is still dealing with higher than average rainfall, with the Ranger mine reporting the third highest wet season on record.

A total of 2 490 millilitres of rain has inundated the mine since September last year, and the wettest period it has ever seen was 2 527 millilitres in 2006/07.

With three weeks to go until the wet season ends, ERA announced today the suspension of processing plant operations will continue until late July 2011.

The construction of a three metre lift to the walls of the TSF is well underway, according to the company, and later in the year an application will be submitted to regulators to request an increase in the authorized operating level of the TSF.

Mining operations in the pit have also ceased due to the massive amounts of water and ERA does not expect to gain access until late this year.

Ranger says it is continuing extensive studies on water treatment, including the installation of a brine concentrator which will reduce the process water inventory held at Ranger.

The Ranger mine has been under pressure from traditional land owners to close the mine in the Kakadu National Park, with a scientist preciously employed by the mine revealing the possible contamination of nearby waterways from mining operations.

It says work is continuing on a full and detailed review of the substantial water and rehabilitation projects and associated expenditure requirements and the company has continually updated regulatory authorities and key stakeholders on process water levels throughout the suspension and will continue to do so.

Mining operations at the current Ranger open cut mine will still cease by 2012.

The suspension of mining has reduced the expected production of uranium oxide from 3 793 tonnes to 2 400 and Ranger expects to report a 2011 first half net loss of between $30 and $50 million.

Image: NT News

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