Aura Completes Tiris Infill Drilling With Intent To Upgrade Mineral Resource

ASX-listed uranium and polymetallic producer Aura Energy has completed air core drilling at the Tiris uranium project, in Mauritania, as its key objective this year in its efforts to deliver near-term Phase 1 uranium oxide production.
The 10 000 m infill drilling programme is designed to upgrade Aura’s inferred resources of 26.3-million pounds at 100 parts per million of triuranium octoxide (U3O8) cut-off within Tiris East into measured or indicated status, and to identify further exploration targets within the tenure.
With the drilling and logging programme complete, validation samples have been delivered to ALS Ireland and ANSTO Minerals, Australia.
Going forward, Aura expects to update its resource estimate before the end of the year.
With the updated resources estimate, Aura intends to accelerate the project with the potential for expansion to between two-million and four-million pounds a year of U3O8.
Aura COO Dr Will Goodall says the completion of drilling is a key milestone in developing the project and is aligned with the company’s objective of achieving first uranium production by 2025.
“Importantly, it also demonstrates clear progress on the path set in the first quarter of this year to rapidly develop Tiris and grow its value for all our stakeholders, including the government and community.
“Through the fourth quarter of this year, we expect to finalise key negotiations with the Mauritanian government, which remains very supportive of Tiris,” he adds.
Aura’s strategy to deliver near-term production from Tiris is being driven by the global shift towards low-carbon energy sources, leading to more attention into nuclear power and, in turn, prompting a surge in uranium prices.
This year, Aura points out, uranium prices have risen dramatically, from about $30/lb to the October level of near $50/lb, representing an increase of about 60%.
A 2021 Tiris feasibility study update demonstrated that Tiris is a low-capital and low-operating-cost project, with a simple, proven flowsheet. Aura says the project has first mover opportunity with a capital estimate of $74.8-million and operating cost of $25.43/lb.
Also this year, Aura progressed with an engineering programme at Tiris that saw the grade of ore going through the pilot plant being upgraded by between 500% and 600%, while retaining 90% of the uranium.
In addition, Aura developed a new circuit, which will recover vanadium pentoxide as a byproduct, with the expectation of operating cost savings.
Further, in June, DRA Global and its subsidiary SENET were appointed to undertake the front-end engineering design study for the project with Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec and Adelaide Control Engineering designing the processing circuit.
Meanwhile, Aura reports that a concession agreement is being negotiated with the government of Mauritania, to be signed by both the President and the Minister of Mines and outlining Aura’s commitment to the key steps involved in project development, including the approval process steps.
This, says Aura, gives certainty in relation to tenure and confirms all aspects of the host government’s fiscal regime for at least 30 years.
“Constructive discussions have continued throughout 2022 and a formal agreement is imminent,” says Aura in a statement.