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The Honeymoon uranium project, north of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia and 75 kilometres north west of Broken Hill in New South Wales, is Australia's fourth uranium mine and only the second to use the in-situ method of recovering the ore from below the surface of the mine site, that remains undisturbed.

In mid November 2013, Uranium One announced it will be closing its Honeymoon uranium mine. Slow uranium prices and high operating costs are behind the decision which will impact around 90 jobs. The mine will be placed into care and maintenance phase over a period of four or five months while the option to reopen at a later stage will remain open.

Honeymoon Mine now a Privately Owned Russian Enterprise

The Honeymoon Mine is wholly owned by the Russian company, Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation, through its subsidiary company, JSC Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ), which in turn fully owns the former Canadian based company, Uranium One Inc., that operates the mine on a day to day basis.

Honeymoon Mine, also known as Honeymoon Well, Uses In-Situ Leaching Technology
The commissioning of the Honeymoon uranium mine, also known as Honeymoon Well, began in September 2011. The uranium ore is extracted from the ground by means of an in-situ recovery method of mining and processed at an on-site processing facility using solvent extraction technology.

In-situ leaching (ISL) is referred to as solution mining in Australia and in- situ recovery (ISR) in North America. Both methods mine the ore while it lies beneath the ground without the need for digging and disturbing the mine site as occurs in more traditional mining operations. The uranium is recovered by having it dissolved with certain chemicals and then pumping the solution to the surface where it is treated at an on-site processing plant where the uranium is recovered.

The advantage of mining in this manner is that very little surface disturbance is experienced, no tailings are created nor is there any waste rock to have to worry about. However, this method of mining can only be used if the ore body containing the uranium is permeable to the chemical liquid being used, and the site is located in an area where no contamination of groundwater is risked.

Un-situ leaching of uranium makes use of the groundwater contained in the orebody. This natural water is fortified with an oxidant that is pumped through the orebody to react with the uranium by leaching. The resulting solution is then pumped to the surface and the uranium recovered in a similar manner as occurs in a conventional uranium processing plant.

The only other uranium mine in Australia to use the ISL method is the Beverley Mine. Both operations use hydrogen peroxide as the oxidant and sulfuric acid as the complexing agent. Australian governments have agreed to a best practice guide for in-situ mining methods used for the extraction of uranium.

Honeymoon Mine is the Smallest of Australia's Four Uranium Mines
The Honeymoon uranium mine is South Australia is the smallest of the four uranium mines in Australia, the other mines being; Beverley and Olympic Dam in South Australia and the Ranger Mine in Northern Territory. Another uranium mine, Wiluna, in Western Australia,owned by Toro Energy, is expected to begin production in 2016.
Russian and Chinese companies have been busy buying up uranium projects throughout the world in recent months securing their supply for use in nuclear reactors. The acquiring of Uranium One Holding NV, by ARMZ, means that it is no longer a public corporation and is now a private company.

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