Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has rejected Cameco’s Yeelirrie Uranium project because it could not meet key environmental factors examined by the independent board.
The agency assessed the project against nine factors and released a report and recommendations to the Minister for Environment for consideration.
EPA was not satisfied due to potential impacts to flora and vegetation, inland waters environmental quality, and decommissioning and rehabilitation.
Cameco's Australia managing director Brian Reilly said: “Sampling and impact management for subterranean fauna at Yeelirrie is very complex and this is reflected in the EPA’s findings.
“We believe that with further sampling and research, subterranean fauna can be appropriately managed at Yeelirrie and we will work with government agencies and stakeholders to find a way forward.”
More than 850 samples were collected from Yeelirrie, and 73 species of stygofauna have been identfied. Eleven species of these are currently only known from the impact area.
EPA's chairman Dr Tom Hatton said: “This was an extremely complex assessment, which included an extensive public consultation period, a site visit, numerous discussions with the proponent, and the careful and rigorous examination of nine key environmental factors.
“The stygofauna habitat at Yeelirrie is particularly rich, with 73 species recorded, more than anywhere else in the northern Goldfields.”
The agency concluded the proposal would threaten the viability of some species of subterranean fauna, in particular stygofauna.
Cameco proposes to mine up to 7,500t of uranium oxide concentrate (UOC) per year from the Yeelirrie deposit, which is located about 420km north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and 70km south west of Wiluna. It also includes two open pits, processing facilities, roads, accommodation, stockpile, and laydown areas. The UOC plans transportation of export by road through the Port of Adelaide.
Yeelirrie uranium deposit is estimated to contain total measured and indicated resources of 127.3 million pounds.