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GoviEx progressing projects despite political challenges

An image showing GoviEx’s Madaouela project

GoviEx’s Madaouela project

16th January 2024

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online

     

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Despite bullish uranium prices, the unexpected military coup in Niger, where TSX-V-listed GoviEx’s Madaouela project is located, has created some challenges, CEO Daniel Major and executive chairperson Govind Friedland outline in a letter to stakeholders.

They aver that 2023 was an “incredible year” for the uranium industry, with spot uranium prices closing the year at $91/lb uranium oxide (U3O8), the highest since November 2007 and representing a 91% increase over the 12 months of 2023, and most recently exceeding $100/lb U3O8.

“This increase is not only part of a growing recognition of nuclear’s vital role in the global transition to clean energy, but also a reflection of the mismatch between uranium supply and demand, in a sector that has consistently underinvested in new projects for over a decade.

“Within such a backdrop, GoviEx remains one of only a handful of companies with two fully permitted projects nearing construction, offering diversified projects in mining-friendly jurisdictions,” the letter reads.

Owing to concerns as to what the coup may engender, Major and Friedland state that the company continues to work closely with the current government and is currently in the process of renewing its environmental- and social-impact assessment (ESIA), which it expects to be finalised shortly.

“Our operations in Niger have demonstrated resilience during this uncertain time and our commitment to the project and the region as well as its socioeconomic growth remains.

“While funding for Madaouela may have been delayed, we are optimistic that this may change in future, and continue to engage with lenders and potential offtakers,” they write.

They add that having a diversified asset base provides the company with a significant advantage, particularly during periods of political uncertainty.

They highlight that the company’s Muntanga project, in Zambia, has shown good progress during the last year.

“Last year we announced a substantial increase in openpit mineral resources at Muntanga, with measured and indicated resources nearly tripling, now representing 74% from 29% of total resources.

“Our total in-pit constrained resources increased 18% and we have shown a grade improvement in all mineral categories. What’s more exciting is that this upward trajectory in resource growth persisted even under lower uranium prices, such as the $50/lb used in our preliminary economic assessment, which is a testament to the project’s potential and resilience,” they acclaim.

In 2023, the company completed a 15 835 m drilling programme on the Muntanga and Dibbwi East deposits.

The results of the infill drilling programme are highlighted as “promising”, indicating the potential for further conversion of mineral resources from the inferred into the indicated category, which would mean these upgraded mineral resources can be included in the upcoming feasibility study, potentially increasing the size and quality of the project.

Looking ahead, GoviEx is on track to complete the feasibility study and the ESIA in Zambia this year.

“Our vision is clear: to commence uranium production within two years post-financing, becoming a uranium supplier in this uranium cycle.”

During the year, the company says it made significant advancements in sustainability reporting and instituted robust processes to measure critical metrics such as water and diesel consumption, as well as electricity use and greenhouse-gas emissions.

It also further developed its risk management and health, safety, security and environment programmes, and said it prioritised local employment and procurement in operational jurisdictions.

“We have a fully local workforce and implement local procurement policies across all of our projects.  We continue to focus on workplace diversity, with women constituting 35% of our workforce, up from 29% last year.

“Additionally, we have enhanced stakeholder engagement, adopting a comprehensive engagement plan and grievance procedure, alongside a community development plan, emphasizing education, health, water access and women’s empowerment.”

The successful upsizing of the company’s bought deal offering to $13.8-million late last year is posited as a reflection of the market's confidence in its strategy and potential, which has provided it with the capital necessary to continue exploration and development activities, supporting the company's growth and sustainability.

GoviEx has also appointed Allison Fedorkiw to the board.

“As an environmental, social and governance (ESG) specialist, her expertise will be invaluable in guiding our ESG initiatives and ensuring that our operations continue to meet the highest standards of social and environmental responsibility.

 Fedorkiw takes over from David Cates, who has agreed to remain with GoviEx in a consulting capacity.

This year will see GoviEx focused on completing the feasibility study for Muntanga, and subject to an improvement in conditions in Niger, the company will seek financing options for both of its development projects.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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