Could you introduce your project portfolio?
GoviEx is a uranium developer with projects in three African jurisdictions. Madaouela is our most advanced project in Niger; the project is fully permitted, and we are doing preparations for the final feasibility study. Mutanga in Zambia is about two years behind Madaouela, with a completed PEA. And thirdly, Falea is a multi-element, advanced exploration play located in Mali.
Could you share the highlights of the updated PFS at Madaouela?
The PFS completed in April 2021 was designed around simplifying the project and restructuring the flow of production with a focus on how the debt market would look at the project. Madaouela is forecast to produce approximately 2.5 million lb/y uranium for 20 years at a production cost of US$22/lb for the entire LOM, and US$18/lb for the first five years. Madaouela has significant exploration upside, but our focus is to complete the FS by mid 2022 and see the project financed by the end of next year.
What is the local infrastructure that Madaouela benefits from?
Logistics-wise, the project sits about 10 km away from the city of Arlit, while is connected via road to the port of Cotonou in Benin. A power line also runs all the way from Arlit to the city of Agadez, providing access to grid power. We are considering potential inclusion of a hybrid diesel-solar power plant to power Madaouela and reduce our reliance on coal firepower.
How do you observe current uranium fundamentals?
The fundamentals have been gradually improving, with demand growing pushed by a more universal understanding that nuclear is key to having a balanced power source. The recent gas supply shortage in the UK, and sudden interruptions in wind-powered electricity have led to greater acceptance that there is no quick fix and that renewables alone cannot drive the energy transition. The World Nuclear Association increased its forecast for nuclear growth from 2% to 2.6% by 2040. On the supply chain, half of secondary supplies come from inventory drawdowns, but these will run out too. Companies like Sprott buying inventories are also driving prices up. The benefits of higher prices are already starting to reflect in requests for proposals (RFPs) towards long term contracts showing up in the open market.
The Falea project shows a uranium-copper-silver mineralization. What is distinct about the project’s geology?
Falea is an unconformity style polymetallic deposit which showed as a flat line uranium deposit containing copper and silver but it is positioned on two large regional gold trends. Recent geophysical exploration has defined a large chargeability below the current ore body, running along strike with the mineralising fault. At Falea only 5% of the 225 km2 surface area has been drilled and with the potential for further anomalies there may potentially be a more interesting exploration beneath the horizon that currently contains a 30 million pound uranium deposit.
What makes the Mutanga project interesting from an investors’ perspective?
Mutanga is a very simple, open-pit heap leach project, with low-stripping ratios and very low-acid consumption. The project has the lowest capital intensity per pound produced than any other project in Africa. We currently hold permits with a 140 km strike length with immense exploration potential.
Do you have a final message for our international audience?
Besides the technical aspects, GoviEx pays close attention to social and environmental aspects. We have worked on programs to reduce our water consumption, as well as driving community programs focused on education, health, access to water and sustainable farming. We are working towards creating synergies with local NGOs in order to scale up the impact of our investments. 100% of our employees are local and we are committed to continuing this strategy within the skills we can secure in-country, as well as supporting local procurement strategies. External perceptions about countries like Niger are far from the reality on the ground – uranium has been produced continuously for decades, the mining code has not changed since 2006, and the country has had a democratic change of government every 4-8 years. We see a new wave of commercial ventures coming on board, together with big infrastructure developments like a brand-new airport at Niamey.
After being on slow-paddle, we are certainly paddling forward much faster as the uranium market is starting to move and we think 2022 will be a very busy year for us.