Mine Name: Eva, also known as Pandanus Creek
State: Northern Territory
Brief description of impact/history:
Eva is an old uranium mine located 16 km west of the Queensland border in the Northern Territory, it is 50km south of Redbank Copper Mine. The first uranium find at Pandanus Creek was made by R T Norris in 1955, and the following year Eva Clarke, Norris’ niece, soon discovered the main orebody, simply by picking up yellow pebbles which Norris found to be radioactive. The Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd. (BHP) explored and tested the deposit between 1958 and 1959. A deposit of some 55,000 t of ore averaging 0.56% U3O8 was delineated by drilling, containing some 308 t U3O8 – which was larger than many South Alligator deposits. Due to the remoteness and difficulty of commercial mining at the site, plus the fact that by 1959 no export contracts could be won, the deposit was worked on a small scale by South Alligator Uranium NL from 1960-62, extracting about 3,300 t of ore at a high grade of 1.8% U3O8 (nearly 10 times Rum Jungle). The mine was developed underground to a depth of 83 feet (25.3 metres), with the uranium ore hand sorted to about 306 tonnes of concentrate at the extraordinary grade of 8.37% U3O8 (a total of ~26 tonnes U3O8) and trucked the long distance to Rum Jungle for treatment.
Although exploration appears to have stopped after about 1982, a visit by the Mineral Policy Institute (MPI) observed recent exploration work and materials for ongoing activity (eg. containers, piping, etc). The leases are now owned by NuPower Resources Limited, who (apparently) are keen to pursue a potential mining project despite the infinitessimally small deposit size.
The waste rock dump (the 3,000 t at ~1% U3O8 rejected in the hand sorting process), registers very high levels of gamma radiation at 50 µGy/hour at the top and around 35 µGy/hour at the base (Construction Group, 1988). A second stockpile nearby registered 30-40 µGy/hour. These gamma levels were considered potentially hazardous. Gamma radiation levels were measured by the Mineral Policy Institute (MPI) on 27 June 2011, shown below. The readings show a clear dispersion of radioactive material away from the stockpile, with both drainage lines showing elevated gamma radiation 1.7 and 1.8 µGy/hour. A sample of yellow uranium minerals, coated on rocks, shows a gamma level of 35.1 µGy/hour.
The site clearly remains poorly rehabilitated.
Battey, G C, Miezitis, Y & McKay, A D, 1987, Australian Uranium Resources. Resource Report 1, Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology & Geophysics (aka ‘BMR’), Canberra, ACT, 76 p.
Construction Group, 1988, Rehabilitation Proposals for Abandoned Uranium Mines in the Northern Territory. Construction Group, Report 88/2, Commonwealth Dept. of Administrative Services, April 1988, 114 p.
Hare, R, 1965b, Pandanus Creek Uranium Deposit. Proc. “8TH Commonwealth Mining and Metallurgical Congress”, Vol. 3, Ch. 9 – Uranium (Collated by M L Fitzgerald & F R Hartley), Ed. J T Woodcock, AusIMM, Melbourne, VIC, pp 227.