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Annual Report 2000-2001

Beverley Uranium Mine

On 21 February 2001 the Beverley
uranium minein South Australia, owned by Heathgate Resources, was officially
opened. Heathgate Resources is an
affiliate of General Atomics of the USA. Beverley has a capacity of about 1,000 tonnes per year, compared to
about 5,000 tonnes per year each for the Ranger and Olympic Dam mines.

From a miningtechnology perspective, the Beverley mine is a first-of-type for
Australia. Whereas the other uranium sites are open pit and underground mines,
Beverley uses the in- situ leach (ISL) process. This process can only be used for deposits contained in porous
host rock confined between impervious layers. Boreholes are drilled through which a mildly acidic, oxidising solution
is fed into the ore body. This solution
dissolves the uranium which is and is then pumped up another borehole to the
processing plant. The uranium is
extracted from the solution and processed for sale. The stripped solution is rejuvenated and returned to the ore
body. By maintaining a lower pressure
at the extraction well than at the feed wells the solution can be controlled so
it does not spread into the surrounding rock. Although this is a new process for Australia it is used elsewhere and a
variation (using basic rather than acidic solutions) is the main process used
in the USA for mining uranium. There are other deposits in Australia that
could, potentially, be mined using this process. The most advanced of these is Honeymoon, also in South Australia.

Although a permitunder the Safeguards Act had been granted covering a small field
leach trial at Beverley, Heathgate Resources required a new permit for full
scale mining. The Ministerfor Foreign Affairs granted this on 4 September 2000.
This followed approval for the project by
the Minister for the Environment and South Australian State authorities. A permit was also granted for transport of
the uranium to port along a route identified as optimum in the environmental
approval process.

As a condition of the permit, Heathgate
Resources is required to established accounting and security systems at the
mine. The permit specifies criteria for
these systems. There are also
requirements on the operator to make notifications and reports to ASNO covering
a variety of events and data. The
permit covering transport also contains security conditions. As there had not been a new mine in
Australia for many years the permit format was reviewed and updated.

ASNO inspected the Beverley site in
1998 and again in 2000, by which time, the trial had been completed. Security arrangements for the stockpile of
uranium left over from the trial were checked. The new processing plant was under construction at the time and this
construction site was also inspected to check it matched the plans provided to
ASNO. In February 2001 ASNO visited the
mine for the official opening. ASNO
will inspect both the security and accountancy arrangements each year. In between visits, ASNO maintains regular
communication with Heathgate Resources relating to uranium shipments and
general permit compliance.

The first shipment of uranium from
Beverley took place on 22 March 2001, and there were four shipments from
Beverley in the period ending June 2001. All exports from Beverley are subject to the same safeguards conditions
applied at Australias other mines. Specifically, the uranium can only be supplied and transferred to
countries within Australias network of bilateral safeguards agreements. ASNO had previously advised its counterpart
agencies in bilateral partner states of the possibility the mine would commence
in 2001. All systems were therefore in
place to track shipments from Beverley when they commenced.

The market for uranium is currently
depressed. However this mine has
production costs low enough to be competitive even at current prices. The capital costs in particular are smaller
for ISL mines than other types of uranium mines. Heathgate Resources is also looking to the longer term when
prices are expected to improve. Beverley is helping Australia remain a reliable supplier of an important
world energy source.

Photo of Beverly Mine Uranium Pipeline.

Figure 8 View of Beverley
uranium minephotograph courtesy Heathgate Resources Pty Ltd

Last Updated: 24 September 2014
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