Western Australia’s first uranium mine receives final environmental clearance

Wiluna uranium project

Australia's federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has granted final environmental approval for Toro Energy's A$269m ($281m) uranium project near Wiluna, Western Australia (WA).

The Wiluna uranium project will be WA's first uranium mine, following the State Government's decision to lift a ban on uranium mining in 2008.

For several decades uranium mining has been a major part of the Australian political landscape, with opposition groups citing the environmental impacts, indigenous land access and nuclear proliferation as reasons for ceasing or restricting the industry.

The government has set 36 conditions on the project to ensure it proceeds without damaging impacts on the environment during mining operations and after the mine closes.

Toro Energy managing director Vanessa Guthrie said that Wiluna is one of the few projects worldwide that is capable of bringing new uranium production to the market in the medium term, as a shortfall is predicted from 2015 onwards.

"It also provides a clear pathway to complete detailed engineering design, infrastructure and cost estimates for Wiluna," Guthrie noted.

It took almost three and a half years for Toro to get all the regulatory and environmental approvals from state and federal governments.

The project is now subject to normal financing and final project investment determinations by the Toro Board.

Wiluna uranium mine consists of two deposits, Lake Way and Centipede, and will process 1.3 million tonnes per annum, with expected production of about 780t of uranium oxide concentrate based on up to 14 years of mine life.

Toro expects to begin the initial production from the Wiluna mine by the end of 2015, subject to completion of financing, marketing arrangements, and design and cost work.

Image: Wiluna uranium mine is expected to produce 780t of uranium oxide concentrate based on up to 14 years of mine life.

Energy Technology forum on LinkedIn