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Sonia Madigan:

Uranium has gained value this year with the realisation that it’ll be critical for the green energy transition and meeting global carbon reduction targets.

Haranga Resources (ASX:HAR) is exploring for uranium in Senegal with focus on its flagship Saraya project. Managing Director Peter Batten joined the company in September. Welcome Peter.

Peter Batten:

Thank you.

Sonia Madigan:

Now, Peter, you’ve just returned from site in Senegal. What did you find?

Peter Batten:

Oh, I was a bit of an eye-opener. I’ve worked in Guinea in West Africa, and I was quite pleasantly surprised by the level of infrastructure and the modernisation of Dakar and also the infrastructure once you left Dakar with bitumen roads, very similar to Australia all the way through the country, a lot of infrastructure available for the people and a lot of development outside the capital city.

Sonia Madigan:

You’ve shown me a couple of photographs from your tenements. What are you dealing with there?

Peter Batten:

The tenements are covered by a laterite plateau, and so we don’t see a lot of rock.

Saraya has rock that we can see and that gives off radiometric signals, but the majority is mask by these laterites. At the moment, we’re just at the end of the wet season, and so all of the ground is covered with greater than two metre grass, so you can’t see where you’re going or what you’re doing. I went up there for a visit and we pushed our way through because I was there, but normally we wouldn’t work until December, which is the start of the dry season.

Sonia Madigan:

Well, before we talk further about the project, we’ve seen the uranium price lift. What’s your view on the commodity now and for the years ahead?

Peter Batten:

Uranium is essential in the generation of nuclear power, which people are starting to realise now is a very safe baseload power system that also has very good green credentials.

It’s got the lowest carbon footprint of any power generation, including wind and solar. People are realising that and that it’s a safe value. This uranium boom has been coming since about 2010.

The reason that it’s quite possibly here now and may be sustainable over a number of years is that all of the stockpiles have run down and the secondary uranium has run down. Nuclear power heads to uranium fuel rod system is almost finished and there’s a shortfall of uranium.

None of the long-term contracts in the US have been filled for a number of years. There’s a small gap where they are filled, but up until 2030, there’s a massive shortfall of uranium.

Sonia Madigan:

What potential do you see Peter for the Saraya project?

Peter Batten:

Well, Saraya, at the moment we put out an MRE, which is a hundred per cent inferred, and that’s 16 million pounds at a really good grade of 587 ppm EU308. But outside of Saraya, we have the potential in anomalism that we have sampled ourselves to significantly grow that resource, and that’s what the world is looking for at the moment, is there are a number of resources out there that are still well away from development. We could quickly bring our project up to that stage and be available in that time period.

Sonia Madigan:

So is that why you joined Haranga Resources?

Peter Batten:

I was attracted to Haranga by exactly that. The fact that Haranga was in a position to complete an MRE, Kajima and Areva, the French companies had drilled 68,000 metres there up until 2010, and that information was available to be put into a mineral resource estimate.

The tenor of that estimate is quite good. It’s 16 million pounds. That’s sustainable at the moment. It can grow itself, but it’s also outside of that. We have another six anomalies that we’ve identified that could significantly grow the project, and it was that growth, the potential to grow into something significant, that attracted me to Haranga.

Sonia Madigan:

What background do you bring to the company to progress all of this?

Peter Batten:

I started as a geologist, trained as a geologist, and I’ve worked as a geologist.

But in the uranium space, in 2006, I pegged the licenses in Namibia for Bannerman, and later that year became the MD of Bannerman and I ran Bannerman during the boom, at that time.

Once I left Bannerman, I was also working in uranium in Utah for White Canyon uranium, ASX listed junior, in fact, the only ASX-listed junior that was producing uranium. We were mining underground mining in Utah.

Sonia Madigan:

So West Africa isn’t new to you?

Peter Batten:

No, Africa’s not new and West Africa’s not new.

As I said, I was pleasantly surprised because when I knew that I was going to West Africa, I was aware of what I had experienced before. This is going to be much easier. Senegal will be a much easier country to operate in.

Sonia Madigan:

Why is that?

Peter Batten:

It’s a stable geopolitical country. It has a high level of infrastructure. The government is serving the people and it has stable and recent mining laws and regulations.

Sonia Madigan:

And what other projects does Haranga have on the go

Peter Batten:

At the moment we have an interest in Burkina Faso that’s on the back burner.

We also have a gold project in Senegal. It’s called Ibel South. That’s about 40 kilometres away from the Saraya camp at Ibel South. We have just completed termite mound sampling there, and we have anomalous gold, a stream of anomalous gold. So we’re looking at the next process there.

Apart from those two projects, we’re also on the lookout for anything that is available and we’ve talked to other people and had a look at a number of projects in the system.

Sonia Madigan:

You made quite an interesting point there, Peter, when you said that you look to termite mounds for information.

Peter Batten:

I mentioned before that the area we were operating in Senegal is covered by laterite plateau. The minerals that normally tell you where to look for deposits sit underneath that laterite and you can’t rely on the information from the laterite itself.

So you have to get below the laterite without drilling. One method of doing that, and it’s a common method, is it’s been used all over the world. It’s used in Australia, is to target termite mounds. Termites take over a tree and they eat down to the roots, but they also will push down to the water table.

Sonia Madigan:

When they bring the material up, we can see that it’s sapralytic material sitting on the termite mound, and that’s sufficient for us to get an idea of what mobile elements are there. That might be a signature for a deposit underneath.

Well, that’s certainly interesting, but before we go, we are rapidly approaching the end of the calendar year. What does Haranga hope to achieve by then?

Peter Batten:

Haranga is decided to develop Saraya and the Saraya anomalies and Ibel South, and since I joined in September, that’s been the push to get this happening.

December is the end of the wet season, the start of the dry season. That’s our operating season. Senegal is a Muslim country and they don’t stop for Christmas and they don’t stop for New Year.

We have restarted our termite mound sampling. Our infill sampling gives us a better idea of the anomalies we’re about to commence in the next week or so auger drilling to give us an indication of the orientation of any mineralisation that sits underneath the laterites and that will lead to RC drilling, which we hope to commence by mid-December.

We’ve taken some core material from Siah and we’re sending that to Canada for metallurgical test work, and that will form the basis of an upgrade for our Saraya MRE.

The amount of information we have is sufficient for an indicated or inferred resource, but we decided that we would keep it a hundred per cent inferred until we had a little bit more information on the database and the metallurgical performance of the material.

HAR by the numbers
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