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At a time when uranium prices appear to be bouncing back, and multiple countries – including the United States – have pledged to triple their nuclear power by 2050, Haranga Resources (ASX:HAR) is progressing further down the road to developing its flagship Saraya Uranium Project in Senegal.

And the market responded warmly, with Haranga’s share price sitting at 10 cents at 12:02 AEST, a rise of 17.65 percent since the market opened.

On Thursday, the company announced it had upgraded the mineral resource estimate for Saraya, with 37 percent of this now reclassified as indicated, and 80 percent of the total resource located only 140 metres from surface.

The resource now sits at 6.04 million pounds eU3O8 (equivalent uranium) at a grade of 752 parts per million (ppm) eU3O8 in the indicated category, and 10.1 million pounds of eU3O8 at a grade of 484ppm eU3O8 in the inferred category.

Saraya’s total resource is therefore at 16.11 million pounds of eU3O8 at a grade of 558ppm eU3O8, with a cutoff of 250ppm.

Haranga’s managing director Peter Batten said the upgrade put Saraya in stronger territory, with a not insignificant amount now holding the more defined indicated status.

“The upgrade’s been a long time coming,” he said.

“What it’s doing is taking what was a 100 percent inferred resource and putting it into the indicated category.

“There is no increase in the contained pounds at this point, but we do have a resource update coming in another couple of weeks, which will have a slight increase in the pounds.”

The upgrade in Saraya’s resource was based on data taken from Haranga’s recent drilling work, in addition to a database of information on 519 historical drillholes, and Mr Batten said this work would support the Haranga team in pushing closer to developing of the project.

“Our recent drilling was completed to give greater confidence in the Saraya resource, and then allow us to upgrade it,” he said.

“This means we have a greater capacity of indicated material, so we can use that for feasibility studies and scoping studies as we go forward and perhaps wrap some economical parameters around.”

Recent exploration work used in Haranga’s resource upgrade included a program of diamond drilling comprising 22 holes, positive metallurgical test work, and the drilling of 29 reverse-circulation holes to confirm aspects of the project’s geology.

Mr Batten said the location of the resource – with a majority close to the surface – would also build confidence in the development work to come.

“What we have in the results is 6 million pounds sitting in the indicated resource category, and another 10 million sitting in inferred,” he said

“That’s all above 140 metres, which is quite shallow and amenable to open-pit mining.

“So that’s all very good news, and we can now look at the economic concepts of mining studies and process flowsheet study.”

The company’s next priority will be an update on the total resource figure in pounds, following the receipt of laboratory assay results from 29 RC holes completed at Saraya in the first quarter of 2024.

In addition to experiencing a busy few months, Haranga has reached other milestones with Saraya, including metallurgical test work in May which showed that up to 90 percent uranium extraction could be yielded through leaching of the project’s ore.

Both acid and alkaline leaching methods were tested, with acid leaching resulting in extraction rates of more than 96 percent uranium oxide – better than the rates seen in other uranium operations – while alkaline leaching achieved extraction rates of 84 percent.

This work indicated that both types of optimisation paths were possible for the ore, and this followed up earlier metallurgical test work confirming the suitability of Saraya’s material for leaching extraction.

Thursday’s announcement comes at a good time for mining companies seeking to develop uranium projects, as the price of this commodity showed its resilience, bouncing off a six-month low of $82.8 (on June 11) to sit at $86.25 per pound.

The shift has occurred within a context of bullish demand bets being placed on markets, alongside the reality of increasing supply, while in the background, more and more countries begin to emphasise the need for nuclear power.

China leads the world in this trend, currently in the process of building 22 of 58 global reactors, while Japan has restarted projects to build nuclear reactors, and analysts predict the impact on global supply chains of the US government’s ban on Russian imports of the fuel.

Here in Australia, uranium is also big news, with opposition leader Peter Dutton pledging to build seven nuclear power plants in five states by 2023, with uranium mining stocks gaining on this news.

HAR by the numbers
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