The Beverley Deposits
Beverley lies on the plains about 35 kilometres from Lake Frome - a 5,000 square kilometre salt lake to the east of the northern Flinders Ranges.
With ISR mining, the process of extracting minerals from the host rock, which is carried out above ground in conventional mines, is carried out underground, or in situ. Where the ore exists in an underground aquifer, as is the case at Beverley, a mining solution is pumped through the ore body to dissolve the uranium minerals. The dissolved uranium is then pumped to the surface, where it is taken out of solution and packaged for export. The technology was conceived and developed during the late 1960s and early 1970s, and although widely used overseas, it was used for the first time in Australia at Beverley.
Beverley Mine Lease Extension
On 28 August, 2007, the Company welcomed the announcement from the Commonwealth Government that they had approved the extension of the Beverley Mine under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999.
Subsequent approval of the Mining and Rehabilitation Program (MARP) was received from South Australian and Commonwealth Governments by 13 November 2007. This final approval enabled construction work at the East and Deep South ore bodies to commence ensuring the wellfield start-up program could proceed as planned.
In 2009 the Company discovered a series of uranium deposits to the north of the original Beverley operations is an area known as Beverley North. These deposits are located closer to the Flinders Ranges than Beverley and in the geologically older Eyre Formation, although this is also of Tertiary age. Beverley North is mined as a satellite mines to Beverley. This means initial extraction is undertaken at the Beverley North Deposits, then uranium-loaded resin is returned to Beverley for final processing, extraction of the uranium and regeneration of the resin for re-use in the satellite plants.
A Field Leach Trial (FLT) commenced at the Pepegoona deposit in Beverley North in 2010. When full approvals were received mining proceeded at Pepegoona and Pepegoona West deposits using a modified FLT plant, and a second satellite plant established to mine the separate Pannikan deposit. The area is highly prospective and further mining is likely to follow on from these initial deposits.
ISR mining represents an internationally recognised, low impact, safe and environmentally responsible method of mining. However, for ISR mining to be feasible the deposit requires certain properties, these are: the deposit must be in an aquifer; the aquifer sediments must be permeable; and the sediments must be vertically confined, above and below, by impermeable layers.
The Beverley deposits containing the uranium ore bodies are low to medium grade and exist in permeable sediments contained in the saline and naturally radioactive Beverley and Eyre Formation aquifers some 125m and 250m below the ground surface (respectively). The aquifer sediments are confined above by clays and confined below by impermeable mudstones 70 to 80m thick. As such, Beverley and Beverley North are ideal ISR mining targets.
The operation of the ISR mine at Beverley involves the management and optimisation of two distinct processes: (1) the wellfields to extract uranium from the deposit; and (2) the processing plant to recover this extracted uranium and produce a dried and packaged solid product for export. Despite the small probability of adverse visual impact, buildings and infrastructure are designed to blend in with the surrounding landscape. For the satellite mines at Beverley North, the first part of processing is undertaken at the deposits and final processing and packaging at the larger Beverley processing plant.