WINDHOEK Oct 11 French energy group Areva
said on Thursday it had delayed the start of its $1
billion Trekkopje uranium mine in Namibia until market
"Considering both the continued decrease of uranium prices
coupled with the investments yet to be made on site, AREVA has
no other option than to postpone the launch of the Trekkopje
mine," the company said in a statement.
Uranium prices have been on the decline since the nuclear
disaster at Fukushima in Japan in March 2011, with some
countries questioning the safety and viability of nuclear energy
and some suspending their plans to build new plants altogether.
The uranium spot price UX-U3O8-SPT hit a new two-year low
last week at $45.75 per lb. That compares with the February 2011
average spot price of $69.63.
Areva said the project, which makes use of the
"heap-leaching" extraction process and is about 80 percent
complete, was only viable at a price of $75 per lb or more. It
will cost the company $10 million a year to keep the project
under care and maintenance.
The company plans to finish all ongoing construction by
Trekkopje was expected to produce 3,000 tonnes of uranium
oxide per year. Areva said it was committed to the project once
economic conditions improve.
(Reporting by Servaas van den Bosch; Editing by Agnieszka Flak
and David Dolan)