Frequently Asked Questions
What is uranium?
Uranium is a very dense, radioactive metallic element, naturally occurring in most rocks, soil, and in the ocean. It is not at all rare, and in fact occurs more commonly than gold, silver or mercury.
Uranium is found as an oxide or complex salt in minerals such as pitchblende and carnotite. It has an average concentration in the Earth's crust of a few parts per million. At Samphire it is present as uraninite and coffinite.
What is yellowcake?
Uranium ore is most commonly processed into yellowcake for storage and use. It is a complex chemical compound that emits very low levels of radiation. The term yellowcake is a misnomer as, depending on its chemical composition, it can be a number of colours.
Will yellowcake be produced at Samphire?
As part of the ISR trial, yellowcake will be produced and stored on site in accordance with Government requirements. UraniumSA will not have a licence to sell it. Should the project progress to full scale mining, a licence to sell uranium will be required and sought.
Where will Australian-mined uranium go?
Australian uranium can only be sold to countries which have signed the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty and who are party to a bilateral treaty with the Australian Government.
Australian uranium cannot be used in weapons because of these safeguards.
A customer who purchases Australian uranium also owns all the by-products of its processing and use. These materials cannot be returned to Australia for reprocessing and sale, or for storage.
Where can I learn more about regulation of In-Situ Recovery-based uranium mining?
For independent information on In-Situ Recovery (ISR) visit www.ret.gov.au/resources
Who owns the land at Samphire?
The Samphire project comprises Exploration Licence 3652 (867km2) and the adjacent Joint Ventures (with Stellar Resources Limited (333km2) and Australasia Gold Limited (999km2)) and covers grazing land with several independent pastoral operations. Land ownership in the area is Perpetual Leasehold, and UraniumSA owns the land above the Blackbush deposit within the Samphire project.
What regulations apply to the Samphire project?
All our operations are governed by State and Federal legislation and regulation. We are working with a range of agencies to ensure our operations meet all the regulatory requirements. A Federal Government assessment of the proposed Blackbush Field Trial has determined that our proposed field trial is not considered a controlled action.
What is the purpose of the ISR trial at the Blackbush Deposit?
The purpose of the trial is to enable UraniumSA to determine the optimum way to mine the Blackbush Deposit.
The results of the field trial and associated technical work will determine the process and strategy to be used in developing the project.
How long will the Samphire ISR trial last?
The trial has been postponed (refer ASX releases 2nd and 5th of December 2011). The progression to full-scale mining will be determined by the results of the trial. The current resource is potentially sufficient for some 10 years of mine life, and this may increase as further discoveries are made in the area.
What happens if the ISR trial is not successful?
If the Samphire project does not proceed to full-scale mining the site will be remediated and returned to its existing pastoral use.
What are the benefits of ISR?
ISR is a highly effective method of mining uranium. It requires no open cut mining and there is no open storage of waste products on the surface.
How many jobs will be the Samphire project generate?
Should the Samphire project progress to full scale mining it could lead to the creation of 40 to 60 permanent jobs in the Whyalla community.
Is there any risk of increased radiation levels to Whyalla or the local region?
As part of any mining activity UraniumSA will have a Radiation Management Plan to identify and monitor radiation in the areas where it operates. There will be no radiation risk to the community as a result of uranium mining at Samphire.
We will be dealing with uranium in very low concentrations and our final product is a benign material which will be handled in accordance with specific regulations.
The operation will not generate any radioactive dust or wind born materials. All pipework carrying solutions about the site will have automatic shutdown and isolation mechanisms to ensure any leaks are small and manageable. The layout of the site will be designed and constructed to ensure any spills that may occur are physically contained and able to be remediated efficiently and effectively.
The groundwater systems we are working within are confined. The trial site will be surrounded by monitoring bores to ensure there are no excursions of radioactive materials or chemicals from the trial area.
Will the mine have any impact on the Spencer Gulf?
The field trial and any subsequent mine will have no impact on the Spencer Gulf. The uranium mineralisation at Samphire is contained in sediments which have been in place for some 35 million to 55 million years. An impervious layer of clay and limestone isolates these sediments from the surface. This protective layer is continuous within the project area and extends east and south across the Gulf.
UraniumSA will confine its field trial activities to its mining lease.