Friday, July 27, 2007

meanwhile at the four-mile...

The northern Flinders Ranges and Arkaroola Sanctuary area is very much a hotspot (literally) of mineral activity at the moment.

Firstly we have Marathon Resources' exploration activities at Mount Gee in the centre of the sanctuary, as described in the previous post. But less than 20km away on the fringe of the ranges Quasar and Alliance Resources have been whooping up their finds at the Beverley Four Mile (so named because it is 4 miles away from the currently operating Beverley in-situ leach Uranium mine.)

Alliance Resources and joint venture partner Quasar Resources have extended the strike length of its Four Mile East uranium prospect by over 900m and have taken the next step to secure a mining lease over the project.
MINING NEWS 26/07/07

Alliance Resources is a 25% partner in the exploration project with 75% owned by Quasar, the exploration arm of Heathgate Resources, the operators of the Beverley mine, and themselves a division of US corporation General Atomics.

The struggle to attract investment in a highly competitive field tends to lead to many mining companies favouring the hyperbolic approach when describing their projects. However, given the proximity to existing, potential and historical uranium mines, and radioactive springs, we should probably pay attention to the company's pronouncements -

Alliance has signalled previously that high-grade uranium hits at the discovery indicate potential for it to eventually be the biggest uranium deposit of its type in the world (roll-front, sandstone hosted).
THE AGE 03-04-2007

Certainly, this project is not focussed in the heart of the ranges as the Marathon / Mt Gee project is. But it is focussed on the outer foothills of the northern Flinders, immediately below the stunning Mawson Plateau.

below freeling heights, mawson plateau - see photo on flickr

As with Mount Gee, few who appreciate the beauty of the northern Flinders would savour the prospect of haulage roads and other infrastructure encroaching on the area to service mining operations. A cluster of projects in the area make any new project more attractive, as precedents for 'development' have been set, and infrastructure costs may be shared (or doubly 'justified' if actually paid for by government.) This is inevitable with any sort of mine or similar operation - if open-cutting we would also need to consider the appalling scar on the landscape.

And many South Australian understandably hold serious misgivings about the safety of the in-situ leach mining technique ( essentially the underground pumping of an acid and oxidant mixed with groundwater in order to 'mobilise' Uranium; hardly sounds risky at all! ) as practised at Beverley, particularly concerning the danger of the contamination of aquifers in this fragile, remarkably beautiful semi-arid region.

The picture at the top of this article shows the proposed mining area, as taken from Alliance's own website (where it is simply labelled 'target area - Uranium.'


Alliance Resources Uranium

Heathgate Resources (information on this site is not particularly current)

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thanks for your contribution - bill - i'm genuinely sorry about having to switch on the 'moderation' process but comment spammers have really been cluttering up this journal!