With growing uranium resources and a supportive government, Tanzania is positioning itself to become a significant player for the global nuclear energy sector.
According to Tanzania Invest, huge deposits of uranium have been found in the country, mainly in Namtumbo (Mkuju), Bahi, Galapo, Minjingu, Mbulu, Simanjiro, Lake Natron, Manyoni, Songea, Tunduru, Madaba, and Nachingwea.
One of the major uranium development projects is Mantra Tanzania Limited’s Mkuju River Project, located in southern Tanzania, about 470km southwest of Dar es Salaam.
The mineral resource base of the project is estimated at approximately 58,500t of uranium.
Tanzania’s deputy minister for energy and minerals, Medard Kalemani, highlighted his government’s drive to grow the nation’s uranium industry when he backed a push for the development of the controversial Mantra’s mine, located in the Selous Game Reserve, Africa’s biggest wildlife conservancy area.
Dr Kalemani is reported to have stated that extraction of uranium should have started when the Mantra mining licence was granted on 5 April 2015.
“Mantra was given two years for construction of the mining infrastructure. This is the fourth year. We are therefore saying you must start uranium mining operations in the next two years,” said Dr Kalemani.
“We are urging Mantra to open the mine in order to pay taxes and employ Tanzanians.”
Gladiator in strategic alliance to develop Tanzanian uranium projects
Elsewhere, Gladiator Resources Limited (ASX: GLA) recently confirmed that its wholly owned Tanzanian subsidiary Zeus Resources Limited is assessing a joint collaboration and co-operation on development of the company’s uranium projects in Tanzania.
The company is investigating:
- Joint exploration of the company’s uranium projects to help advance the company’s projects to final MRE and potential Bankable Feasibility Study status
- Gladiator is in discussion with potential partners to invest in and manage exploration during 2023-2025
- Gladiator will assess the opportunity to share part of its projects in the form of shares or a separate joint venture company (JV)
- Joint further development of the uranium projects after the exploration stage, regarding construction and production, to significantly increase the value of the projects
- Gladiator is discussing the opportunity to secure a contract to process future product
- Gladiator will assess the opportunity to outsource the final production stage to a partner
The most advanced discussion Gladiator has with a future uranium producer is with Mantra Tanzania Limited, with whom a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed in mid-December 2022.
Moving forward, the company has stated it will work towards negotiating commercial terms to potentially enter into binding agreements.
“Advancing discussions with possible partners in Tanzania is a significant step in the process of exploration and development of our uranium assets in Tanzania at a substantially faster pace,” executive chairman, James Arkoudis, said.
“The existing expertise, funding capability, on-ground presence, and proven track record of our partners is key to bringing our uranium projects to fruition. We look forward to working together to reach mutually beneficial commercial terms and cement our strategic alliance.”
AuKing making Tanzanian uranium acquisition progress
Meanwhile, AuKing Mining Limited (ASX: AKN) recently revealed it is on track to complete the proposed acquisition of uranium interests in Tanzania.
The company is nearing completion of all transaction due diligence and related activities including receipt of independent technical analyses of the key project areas – Manyoni and Mkuju.
Auking says its application for prospecting licences (PLs) covering an area of 541km2 is expected to be granted shortly. The grant of these PLs is one of the pre-conditions before completion of the sale can occur.
AuKing chief executive officer, Mr Paul Williams, said the proposed acquisition had already received strong proxy support from shareholders.
“In the event of approval being obtained from shareholders at the EGM, the company will then move to complete the Tanzanian acquisition as soon as possible and hopefully before the end of the year. We have also made excellent progress with planning for exploration activities at the primary target areas, Manyoni and Mkuju, with the intention of getting those programmes underway in early 2023,” Mr Williams said.
The nuclear industry also offers high-skill, well-paid employment, and investment in local communities
The Manyoni project is located in the Lake Bahi catchment area and comprises several uranium bearing playa lakes between 40km and 70km northwest of the centre of Lake Bahi.
The area is characterized by outcropping granite and granitic gneisses, which are locally intruded by uranium bearing pegmatites. The sedimentary sequence of the deposit is previously described as consisting of black to grey organic rich clays (Mbuga clays) underlain by variable sandy and silty lenses, interpreted to represent a braided, variable energy depositional environment. A variably weathered granitic saprolite underlies the sedimentary sequence and is reported to be difficult to distinguish from the sand and silty lenses above in the drill samples.
The International Energy Agency’s recently published World Energy Outlook (WEO), projects a more than a doubling of nuclear generation by 2050 in its Net Zero Emissions by 2050 (NZE) scenario.
The 2022 WEO sees a significant increase over the 2021 edition in the amount of nuclear in operation by 2050, with projections of global capacity increasing from 812GW to 871GW, both compared to the current 393GW of operable nuclear capacity worldwide.
Reacting to the report, Sama Bilbao y León, director general, World Nuclear Association, said nuclear is a cornerstone of the IEA’s vision of a clean energy future.
“But nuclear energy has the potential to do much more than what the IEA sets out. A greater contribution from nuclear will be needed because nuclear has the potential to supply both electricity and heat, both of which will be vital to achieving full decarbonization across all sectors.”
The report notes there are a rising number of countries that have announced plans to support new nuclear investment. Despite this, the overall share of nuclear in the electricity mix does not increase from the current 10% in the IEA Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS) and Announced Pledges Scenario (APS), and falls to 8% in the NZE scenario, because of the very strong growth in electricity demand overall.
Sama Bilbao y León says nuclear technology has many advantages over other clean energy options.
“Nuclear reactors are more dependable and resilient, operating 24/7 regardless of weather or time of day. The nuclear industry also offers high-skill, well-paid employment, and investment in local communities.
“Nuclear reactors also produce a lot of energy from a relatively small land area. According to the IEA’s WEO report, nuclear also requires much less mineral-intensive technology, just over 5000kg/MW, compared to 7000kg/MW for solar and 15,000kg/MW for wind.
“The IEA WEO scenarios include only a relatively modest doubling of nuclear generation, whilst some renewable sources see much greater increases in capacity by 2050 compared to current levels.
“WEO 2022 also includes a significant contribution from as yet undemonstrated Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) technologies. Nuclear energy is a proven technology with many economic, social, and environmental advantages. A sound and sustainable clean energy future will need to make much greater use of its benefits.”