Last month, the company announced that it had delayed the commissioning of the plant, which was originally scheduled for August, owing to the late supply of equipment. The plant is now scheduled to deliver its first yellowcake in October.
First Uranium, which released its first-quarter results on Monday, reported current mine production from the ME section of the mine was being stockpiled separately to feed the uranium plant during its commissioning phase.
Despite the delay, CEO Gordon Miller was confident that the company would achieve is full-year output target. First Uranium commissioned Ezulwini’s gold plant and started production in July.
“Although the final commissioning stages of the uranium plant at the Ezulwini mine have been delayed until October 2008, as a result of the late delivery of certain equipment, we believe that this will not affect our planned production for the fiscal year as the capacity of the mills and the uranium plant will exceed the planned near-term capability of the mine to produce ore,” he said in a statement.
In the second quarter, First Uranium planned to hoist about 83 000 t of ore at the Ezulwini mine, and planned to process 17 200 t of gold-bearing ore through the mine’s gold plant.
The second 50 000 t/m mill module of the gold plant would be commissioned during September.
The Toronto-based First Uranium also reported that it expected to start the second-phase of its exploration work at Ezulwini in the third quarter of next year. The four holes being drilled under the mine’s phase-one exploration programme was expected to intersect the E9EC reef horizon by September. The final holes of this phase and the first reef intersections of the second phase were expected in the final quarter of 2009.
Meanwhile, construction of the next phase of the plants that were designed to double Mine Waste Solution’s (MWS’s) current gold production capacity was continuing.
The third gold module and the third uranium module, which would be commissioned in December 2009, would increase plant capacity to 1,9-million tons a month.
Commissioning of the second gold module and the first two uranium modules at MWS were expected to start in January and completed in April.
Further, an upgrade to the MWS Number 5 tailings dam, which would enable it to accommodate a deposition rate of 1,3-million tons a month of material, was planned to be completed in advance of the commissioning of the first two modules of the uranium plant.
If the tailings dam was found to be insufficient, additional tailings dam locations had already been identified, the company announced in a statement to shareholders.
MWS would begin processing uranium by the end of March.
During the first-quarter of 2009, ended June 30, First Uranium reclaimed 8 530 oz of gold at MWS, generating $6,8-million of revenue from 7 741 oz of gold sold at an average price of $879/oz.
First Uranium had spent $34,2-million in cash for capital expenditure for the development of the company’s two mining operations and increased working capital, during the first quarter of 2009.
Meanwhile, the company said it had not signed any long-term contracts to sell uranium, as yet, but that it did have to option to use a take-and-pay agreement with Nufcor.
First Uranium wanted to complete commissioning of at least one of its uranium projects before it would enter into any long-term contracts.