Every Cloud Has Its Uranium Lining

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"An interesting opportunity exists for technicians with instrumentation (and electrical) skills to sub-contract to the [mine] 'care and maintenance' companies. . ."

Unlike open cast mines, underground mines require that the underground water be pumped out and treated before being recycled into the refining process, or discharged to waste.

Today our press is filled with the news of mines being places on 'care and maintenance.' At last count, over 500 mines across the country are 'closed.'

Most of the hazards that face mines when the mine is in operation do not 'go away' when it is closed. Underground water builds up. Rain fills open cast mines.

Chemicals continue to leach into surrounding areas, and finally end up in the rivers. Chemicals have to be stored and monitored. And, of course, all the plant and machinery has to be serviced in anticipation of an increase in the prices of the minerals, and the bringing to life of the mine.

It was interesting to read recently that Andrew Forrest, the Fortesque chief, was forecasting that we are 'at around bottom of the market.'

The implication is that many of our mines on 'care and maintenance' will need to be 'maintained' in excellent shape for a quick startup—hopefully within the next 12 months.

So why all the gloom? All the process measurement instrumentation has to be maintained in good working order. Level measurement in the chemical storage tanks, flow measurement of the pumped-out water, water treatment, pH, conductivity, temperature—all very important parameters that must continue to be monitored during 'care and maintenance.'

Already there are companies that specialize in 'care and maintenance' of mines; and, for a fee, the mine owners can walk away from their investment until the boom returns.

An interesting opportunity exists for technicians with instrumentation (and electrical) skills to sub-contract to the 'care and maintenance' companies and provide these services. And the good news from a vendor perspective, it that it is not going to be about price! But it will be about reliability, robustness, fit-for-purpose and maintenance reduction.

Every cloud has a silver (or maybe gold, or uranium) lining.

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