The expansion programme is on track, and the drilling programme to test the newly defined drill targets is an integral part of the expansion program to justify the capital required for the sinking of an additional shaft, which would be used to access and mine the uranium and gold resource over and above the existing mine plan from the existing main shaft, the company said in a statement.
“While we remain focused on near-term uranium and gold production at our two South African projects, we recognise how important it is to our shareholders for us to have additional avenues of growth,” said First Uranium CE Gordon Miller.
“This expansion programme has the potential to significantly increase production beyond levels currently planned and thereby extend the current 19-year mine plan, which only consumes 20% of the significant resource area at this site.”
The company expects its mine plan for Ezulwini to start hoisting in October 2007, with the first gold plant module scheduled for completion in April 2008 and the first uranium plant module scheduled for completion in June 2008.
According to the existing mine plan, the average annual production at Ezulwini for the life of the project (2007-2024) was expected to be 290 000 ounces of gold and 888 000 pounds of uranium.
Based upon an internal concept evaluation, the combined phase one drill target areas have the potential to delineate a substantial portion of the measured and indicated resources required to justify the construction of a new 250000 tonne- per-month shaft and mill expansion, which could effectively triple production capacity form the uranium-bearing Middle Elsburg ore body.
The company expects that it will need to drill some16 000 metres to complete phase one of the expansion programme.
The phase two target areas, which were significantly larger in area, had been less explored in the past since mining activity was concentrated in the northern section of the property.
New drill target areas will be defined in phase two once the face sampling information from historic mining in these areas has been validated for the UE1A Reef.
First Uranium will continue to define additional drill target areas to add to the findings of the existing expansion program and expects to disclose the complete drill results and resource estimation by the end of 2008.