Kintyre is an advanced-stage, joint venture exploration project with Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd acquired in mid-2008 from Rio Tinto. Cameco owns 70% and is the operator. The project land is located 60 km south of Telfer and 260 km northeast of Newman at the western edge of the Great Sandy Desert in the East Pilbara region of Western Australia. A large resource definition drilling program was begun in September 2009.
This year we:
- carried out further exploration drilling to test for other potential satellite deposits
- completed the prefeasibility study
- prepared a draft Environmental Review and Management Program
- signed the Kintyre Mining Development Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the Martu
We completed the prefeasibility study, and found that given the measured and indicated mineral resource estimate of about 55 million pounds (100% basis) at an average grade of 0.58%, current uranium prices and continued cost escalation in Western Australia, the economics of the project are challenging. The study was based on an open pit mine with an estimated mine life of about seven years, estimated total production of about 40 million pounds of packaged uranium at an average production rate of about 6 million pounds per year. To break even, the prefeasibility study indicates the project would require an average realized price of about $67 (US) or greater total production at uranium prices similar to today's spot price.
Based on our review of the current market environment, we will complete the value engineering study currently in progress and the environmental permitting in order to maintain the ability to proceed with the project should the market factors improve the economics. However, we have decided not to proceed with the detailed feasibility study at this time.
During the fourth quarter of 2012, we recorded a $168 million write-down of the carrying value of our interest in Kintyre. Due to the recent weakening of the uranium market and the decision not to proceed to a feasibility study, we concluded it was appropriate to recognize an impairment charge for this asset. Kintyre remains an important asset in our portfolio. However, given the current state of the market, it was necessary to reduce its carrying value at this time.
Ten additional prospective areas on the property were drill tested in 2012 and to date, no additional resources have been identified.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Kintyre provides a potential opportunity for us to diversify our portfolio in mining method and geography. Any decision to further advance the Kintyre project through our stage gate process will ultimately be based on positive project economics.
Our plan for 2013 is to:
- complete the value engineering study
- complete registration of the Kintyre Mining Development Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the relevant government authority
- submit an Environmental Review and Management Program
- carry out further exploration to test for potential satellite deposits at Kintyre and at other regional exploration projects close to Kintyre.
In order to fully analyze the existing deposit data and prepare to effectively drill test any remaining targets, we will not undertake any additional delineation drilling at Kintyre in 2013. Exploration will be focused on potential satellite deposit targets.
For community-based information on Kintyre joint venture activities in Western Australia, visit: http://www.cameco.com/australia/kintyre/.