Canada

Wheeler River - Gryphon Project

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Categories

Overview

Mine TypeUnderground
StagePre-Feasibility
Commodities
  • Uranium
Mining Method
  • Longhole stoping
  • Longitudinal retreat
Backfill type ... Lock
Mine Life... Lock
SnapshotWheeler River is the largest undeveloped uranium project in the eastern portion of the Athabasca Basin region in northern Saskatchewan, Canada. The project hosts two high-grade uranium deposits: Phoenix and Gryphon.

In mid-2023, a Feasibility Study was completed for Wheeler River’s Phoenix deposit as an ISR mining operation, and an update to the previously prepared 2018 Pre-Feasibility study was completed for Wheeler River’s Gryphon deposit as a conventional underground mining operation.

Production from the Gryphon operation is assumed to be processed at the 22.5% Denison-owned McClean Lake processing plant, which is located in the northeastern portion of the Athabasca Basin region.

At this time, Denison has not made a decision to advance Gryphon. While the project may benefit from certain infrastructure associated with the development of Phoenix, Gryphon is currently considered a standalone project.
Related AssetWheeler River - Phoenix Project

Owners

SourceSource
CompanyInterestOwnership
Uranium Energy Corp. 5 % Indirect
Denison Mines Corp. (operator) 95 % Indirect
The parties to the Wheeler River Joint Venture are Denison (operator) and JCU (Canada) Exploration Company Limited (“JCU”). Denison has an effective 95% ownership interest in the Wheeler River project (90% directly, and 5% indirectly through a 50% ownership in JCU).

Uranium Energy Corp. has an effective 5% ownership interest in the Wheeler River project through a 50% ownership in JCU.

Contractors

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Deposit type

  • Unconformity related

Summary:

The Phoenix and Gryphon deposits are classified as an Athabasca Basin unconformity-associated (also unconformity-related and -type) uranium deposit. Gryphon is primarily hosted in the basement rocks, with minor portions of the deposit situated at the unconformity.

The geology of the Gryphon deposit comprises highly deformed crystalline basement rocks overlain by the relatively undeformed Athabasca sandstone. At the Gryphon deposit, the thickness of the Athabasca sandstone cover ranges from 480 m in the southeast to 540 m in the northwest. The unconformity surface down-drops in a series of steps to the northwest. There is approximately 60 m of vertical displacement over 250 m across strike.

Four major basement lithological units have been defined at Gryphon which dip moderately to the southeast:
• Upper Graphite – The Upper Graphite is approximately 110 m thick, occurs furthest stratigraphically to the southeast, and is located hangingwall to the mineralization. The A and E series of mineralized lenses occur at the base of the unit along a major fault zone, the G-Fault. This pelitic gneiss unit averages 5% to 8% graphite in the upper portion of the unit grading to 10% to 15% in the lower portion of the unit. The unit is well foliated and strikes at 022° dipping at 50° to the southeast.
• Quartz-Pegmatite Assemblage – located stratigraphically below the Upper Graphite and interpreted to be a zone of silicification either pre- or syn-mineralization. This unit is approximately 55 m thick and consists of several smaller (5 to 9 m) discrete sub-units of alternating quartzite, quartz-rich pegmatite, pegmatite, and graphite-bearing pelitic gneisses. The unit hosts the B series of mineralized lenses which occur along foliation-parallel faults related to the G-Fault.
• Lower Graphite – located below the Quartz-Pegmatite Assemblage this pelitic gneiss unit is approximately 15 m thick and averages 10% to 15% graphite well-foliated striking approximately 022° and dipping 45° to the southeast. It is host to the C series of mineralized lenses, which are interpreted to occur along foliation-parallel faults related to the G-Fault or within tensional fractures.
• Basal Pegmatite – located stratigraphically below the Lower Graphite this pegmatite to coarse-grained granitic unit is competent and relatively unaltered. Within this unit, there are multiple minor (1 to 2 m) variably graphitic pelitic gneiss intervals. The pelitic gneiss intervals pinch and swell along strike and do not maintain a continuous thickness throughout the deposit area. The D series of mineralized lenses occur within the tensional fractures within the pegmatites/granites or concordant with the variably graphitic pelitic gneisses.

The Gryphon uranium deposit can be classified as an unconformity-associated deposit of the basement-hosted variety. The majority of the deposit occurs within southeasterly dipping crystalline basement rocks of the Wollaston Supergroup below the regional sub-Athabasca Basin unconformity. The deposit is located from 520 to 850 m below surface and has an overall strike length of 610 m, dip length of 390 m and varies in thickness between 2 and 70 m, depending on the number of mineralized lenses present. The mineralized lenses are controlled by reverse fault structures which are largely conformable to the basement stratigraphy and dominant foliation. The A, B and C series of lenses comprise stacked, parallel lenses which plunge to the northeast along the G-Fault which occurs between hangingwall graphite-rich pelitic gneisses and a more competent pegmatite-dominated footwall. A ubiquitous zone of silicification (Quartz-Pegmatite Assemblage) straddles the G-Fault and the A, B and C series of lenses occur in the hangingwall of, within, and in the footwall of the Quartz-Pegmatite Assemblage, respectively. The D series lenses occur within the pegmatite-dominated footwall along a secondary fault zone (Basal Fault) or within extensional relay faults which link to the G-Fault. The E series lenses occur along the G-Fault, up-dip and along strike to the northeast of the A and B series lenses, within the upper basement or at the sub-Athabasca unconformity. The E series of lenses differ from the remaining sets of lenses as they are the only ones to not follow the local scale plunge of the deposit, rather the mineralization is located planar to foliation and tight to the unconformity. To date, the E series lenses are the only lenses to host unconformity mineralization at Gryphon.

Mineralization within the Gryphon deposit lenses is dominated by massive, semi-massive or fracture-hosted uraninite associated with an alteration assemblage comprising hematite, dravitic tourmaline, illite, chlorite and kaolinite. Secondary uranium minerals, including uranophane and carnotite, are trace in quantity.

Gangue mineralogy is dominated by alteration clays (illite, kaolinite, chlorite), dravite and hematite with minor relict quartz, biotite, graphite, zircon, and ilmenite. Only trace concentrations of sulphides are noted, comprising galena, chalcopyrite, and pyrite. Notable concentrations of molybdenum and lithium are also noted within and around the mineralization, represented visually as lepidolite and molybdenite, respectively.

On a property scale, the Gryphon deposit is situated within a dilation jog or releasing bend along the K-North trend, a highly prospective northeast striking metasedimentary corridor along the Property’s northwest boundary. Regionally the K-North trend geology strikes 035° to the northeast and dips moderately at -50° to the southeast. In the immediate vicinity of Gryphon, there is a prominent change in geologic strike from the regional 035° to 020°. The mineralization at Gryphon is interpreted to have formed from the mixing of oxidized basinal uraniferous fluids with reduced basement ferrous fluids resulting in the co-precipitation of uraninite and hematite. To facilitate this mixing of fluid within the basement, a dilational structural setting is required to allow for the ingress of basinal fluids. It is interpreted that the subtle change in strike, or jog, coupled with the regional northwest directed compression allowed for basement dilation at Gryphon. This is supported by core observations which support a reverse-sinistral sense of movement proximal to the deposit.

On a deposit scale, the plunge of the deposit to the northeast is controlled by structural dilation as a result of reverse-sinistral faulting over shallower foliation dips. Higher grades and thicknesses tend to correspond with larger fault displacements. Five main fault groups are recognized, though several other minor faults are also present throughout the deposit area. These structures are generally located at the contact between the less competent graphitic pelitic gneisses and more competent quartz-pegmatites, pegmatites, and pelitic gneiss units. The faults are brittle in nature and can be described as a combination of cataclasites and gouges, and intervals of blocky and friable core.

Reserves

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Mining Methods

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Comminution

Crushers and Mills

Milling equipment has not been reported.

Processing

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Production

CommodityUnitsAvg. AnnualLOM
U3O8 M lbs 7.649
All production numbers are expressed as yellow cake.

Operational metrics

Metrics
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Ore tonnes mined, LOM  ....  Subscribe
* According to 2023 study.

Production Costs

CommodityUnitsAverage
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All-in costs U3O8 USD  ....  Subscribe
Assumed price U3O8 USD  ....  Subscribe
* According to 2023 study / presentation.

Operating Costs

Currency2023
UG mining costs ($/t milled) CAD 265.85 *  
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G&A ($/t milled) CAD  ....  Subscribe
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* According to 2023 study.

Project Costs

MetricsUnitsLOM Total
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UG OpEx $M CAD  ......  Subscribe
Processing OpEx $M CAD 427.6
Transportation (haulage) costs $M CAD 12.9
G&A costs $M CAD 68.3
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Pre-tax NPV @ 8% $M CAD  ......  Subscribe
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Heavy Mobile Equipment

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EV - Electric

Personnel

Mine Management

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Aerial view:

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