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(last updated 10 Feb 2017)
Mining tycoon files more mineral exploration applications near his backyard - to protect it from other miners?:
Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has applied for four new mineral exploration applications near his expanding cattle operations in Western Australia's Pilbara.
The Fortescue Metals Group chairman's new investment vehicle, Squadron Resources, applied for the licences in late September and early October, according to mineral tenement databases. They are on or near Mr Forrest's own pastoral leases, including the Nanutarra station.
The location of Mr Forrest's exploration and mining leases - almost all of them are for pastoral stations he holds the leases on - have raised questions over whether he has a bone fide interest in the minerals or is using them to block miners from potentially disturbing his cattle operations. A spokesperson for Mr Forrest said the area was prospective for copper, gold and uranium exploration. "We will continue to deploy funds into the exploration sector and meet all obligations and maintain the pristine environment," the spokesperson said.
Past investigations by The Australian Financial Review have found that Mr Forrest used companies run by friends or himself, such as Fortescue, to lodge numerous exploration applications over his childhood Pilbara home, Minderoo station, to prevent other miners from accessing it. (North Queensland Register Oct. 14, 2015)
Minister allows uranium exploration in reluctant mining tycoon's backyard, overturning Mining Warden's decision: On Jan. 7, 2014, Cauldron Energy announced that the Minister for Mines and Petroleum has decided not to accept the Mining Warden's recommendation to refuse Cauldron's applications for three new uranium exploration licenses on and adjacent to the Minderoo pastoral station.
Warden's Court sanctions mining tycoon's opposition to uranium exploration in his backyard:
Several cases involving Minderoo have been brought before the WA Warden's Court , which hears disputes over mining exploration licenses.
In a win for Mr Forrest, the Warden's most recent ruling refused three applications from junior Cauldron Energy to explore for uranium on the station.
Mr Forrest's lawyers objected to the proposed licenses on several grounds including; the impact drilling would have on pastoral activities, dust, stress to stock and the risk to the environment, particularly the Ashburton Fluvial Aquifer.
In handing down his decision last Friday (Feb. 14), Warden Kevin Tavener cited the financial capacity of Cauldron as one of the key reasons for the refusal.
Cauldron Energy released a statement to the ASX on Monday (Feb. 17) indicating its intention to appeal to WA Mines Minister Bill Marmion to overturn the Warden's decision.
(ABC Feb. 19, 2014)
> Download: Mining Warden's decision 2014 WAMW 3, Feb. 14, 2014 (140k PDF)
Mining tycoon opposes uranium exploration in his backyard: Andrew Forrest, Australia's richest man who made his fortune digging up iron ore, is fighting bids to exploit the mineral wealth under his own half-a-million acre family ranch in the nation's remote northwest outback. Forrest, 51, founder and executive chairman of Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., the biggest seller of high-yield debt in the mining industry, sued to block attempts (by Cauldron Energy Ltd) to search for uranium on his Minderoo ranch and last month failed in a bid to halt sand mining on the property. (Bloomberg Feb. 18, 2013)
On Dec. 4, 2012, Western Australia's Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore announced the successful applicants for Round 6 of the Co-funded Exploration Drilling Program. The program provides co-funding of up to 50 per cent of direct drilling costs with caps of $150,000 for a multi-hole project, $200,000 for a single deep hole, and $30,000 for a prospector's project. The list of the 57 successful applicants includes five exploring for uranium.
Bennet Well uranium deposit amenable to acid in situ leaching: On March 24, 2014, Cauldron Energy Ltd announced that testing of samples from the Bennet Well deposit shows acid leaching without the need for additional oxidant has achieved high uranium extraction.
Scoping Study finds Carley Bore uranium in situ leach project "potentially" robust ... at twice the current uranium price:
On Apr. 15, 2014, Energia Minerals Ltd announced that an independent Scoping Study "indicates that Energia's 100%-owned Carley Bore uranium deposit in WA is potentially an economically robust project" and recommends proceeding to a Field Leach Trial. The Scoping Study was based on a uranium price of US$ 60/lb U3O8, almost twice UxC's current spot price of US$ 33.00/lb U3O8.
> Calculate Mine Feasibility
Positive Scoping Study results announced for Carley Bore uranium deposit: On May 16, 2013, Energia Minerals Ltd announced "strong results" of the Scoping Study for its Carley Bore uranium project.
Scoping Study commissioned on Carley Bore uranium deposit: On April 29, 2013, Energia Minerals Ltd announced that it has commissioned a Scoping Study on the potential to develop an In Situ Recovery (ISR) operation based on the Carley Bore uranium deposit.
On Oct. 19, 2010, Toro Energy Ltd announced that it has executed a Memorandum of Understanding with U3O8 Ltd to acquire for A$6.2 million, 100% of the Dawson-Hinkler Well Uranium Project near Wiluna in Western Australia. On Dec. 10, 2010, U3O8 Ltd announced that the sale has been finalised.
On Oct. 19, 2009, U3O8 Limited announced that it has lodged an application for a Mining Lease over its Dawson-Hinkler uranium deposit near Wiluna in Western Australia.
> View deposit details
> View more recent issues
On Aug. 12, 2013, Toro Energy Ltd. announced that is to acquire the Lake Maitland deposit from Mega Uranium Ltd. On Nov. 19, 2013, Mega Uranium Ltd. announced that it has closed the previously announced sale.
On June 21, 2011, Mega Uranium Ltd. announced that it is postponing completion of the Project Feasibility Study.
On Oct. 25, 2010, Mega Uranium Ltd. announced that it has received approval from the Environmental Protection Authority of Western Australia for the Environmental Scoping Document for the Lake Maitland project. Mega is targeting the third quarter of 2011 to have the Environmental Review and Management Programme released for public review.
On Sept. 29, 2010, Mega Uranium Ltd. announced that it has received approval from the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum to undertake a Test Pit Program at Lake Maitland. The Program will involve the excavation of two test pits, approximately 40 m long by 25 m wide and 5 m deep, and will take approximately 6 weeks to complete. On completion of the excavation work, the test pits will be backfilled and the site rehabilitated.
On June 21, 2010, the Project Scoping Document for the Lake Maitland Uranium Project was released for public comment.
Summary: Mega Lake Maitland Pty Ltd proposes to develop the Lake Maitland Uranium Deposit in the Eastern Goldfields Region of WA. The anticipated mine life is 10 years producing the equivalent of about 1000 tonnes per annum of uranium peroxide concentrate In accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1986, a draft Environmental Scoping Document has been prepared which describes the proposal and the investigations which are proposed by Mega Lake Maitland to investigate the likely effects of the project on the environment.Comments have to be filed by July 5, 2010.
On Nov. 19, 2009, Mega Uranium Ltd. reported that it has lodged formal referral documents with the Western Australian and Australian governments for the environmental assessment of its Lake Maitland uranium project in Western Australia.
"Following the granting of our Mining Lease in October, the lodgement of the referrals documents is another major step in the approvals process for Lake Maitland, which is on schedule to commence uranium production in 2012," Mega's President, Stewart Taylor said.
> View EPBC referral Reference Number: 2009/5220
On Oct. 19, 2009, Mega Uranium Ltd. reported that the Western Australia Department of Mines and Petroleum has granted its subsidiary, Redport Exploration Pty. Ltd., a Mining Lease ("ML") for its Lake Maitland uranium project. The ML is the first mining lease to be granted for a uranium project in Western Australia since the newly elected State Government announced in November 2008 that it had removed the ban on uranium mine development in Western Australia.
New West Australia government isses first uranium lease for Lake Maitland project: Canadian miner Mega Uranium has been granted the first uranium-specific mining lease to be approved by the Barnett government. Mega executive vice-president project development, Peter McNally, told The Australian the company hoped to start construction at its Lake Maitland prospect in the eastern goldfields by mid-2011. While numerous approvals are still needed, Mr McNally said Mega was well-advanced in the design phase to build a small uranium processing plant to export about 750 tonnes a year from early 2012. The project, which is a joint venture with Japan's JAURD and Itochu Corporation, is worth up to $3 billion in exports over its 10 to 12-year life. (The Australian Sep. 29, 2009)
On Oct. 21, 2008, Mega Uranium Ltd. reported that it has received a positive preliminary economic assessment (first pass scoping study) of its Lake Maitland uranium resource in Western Australia. Mega "is now focused on advancing the project through to production in 2011".
> View deposit details
Paladin Resources is planning to exploit the Manyingee uranium deposit using the in-situ leaching technology. Once Paladin has confirmed the resource and carried out metallurgical testwork, it hopes to begin a feasibility study in the middle of 1999. The company is looking at making a development decision by about 2001. (Australian Mining Monthly Oct. 1998 )
Mulga Rock uranium mine project obtains state Environment Minister's approval: On Dec. 19, 2016, Vimy Resources Ltd announced that the Western Australian Minister for Environment, the Hon. Albert Jacob MLA, has decided to approve the implementation of Vimy's Mulga Rock Project subject to implementation conditions.
Minister partly allows appeals against EPA's Report and Recommendations on Mulga Rock uranium mine project:
On Nov. 25, 2016, West Australia's Minister for Environment partly allowed the appeals lodged in objection to the Environmental Protection Authority's Report and Recommendations in respect to the Mulga Rock uranium proposal.
The precise wording of the amended conditions will be determined through the consultation process under section 45(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1986.
> Download: Minister's appeal decision 50-73/16 , Nov. 25, 2016 (47kB PDF)
> Download: Appeals Convenor's Report 50-73/16 , Nov. 2016 (827kB PDF)
Preliminary works at Mulga Rock uranium mine project permitted while environmental approval still pending:
Vimy Resources has received special permission to begin preliminary work on its Mulga Rock uranium project in the Goldfields, despite Environment Minister Albert Jacob not yet giving final approval for the project.
Last month, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommended Mulga Rock be approved, but Mr Jacob is yet to give the final nod and a parallel process running under Federal environmental legislation is not yet completed. (The West Australian Sep. 27, 2016)
Appeal lodged against WA EPA's recommendation for approval of Mulga Rock uranium mine project: An appeal has been lodged against the Environmental Protection Authority's recommendation to approve the proposed Mulga Rock uranium mine in Western Australia's Goldfields region. The appeal was lodged on Monday (Aug. 29) by the Conservation Council of WA, the Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth Australia and the Anti Nuclear Alliance of WA. The grounds for appeal include environmental factors for flora and fauna, mine closure, tailings management and impacts to water. (Sky News Aug. 30, 2016)
State Environmental Protection Authority recommends approval of Mulga Rock uranium mine project:
A new uranium mine in Western Australia's Goldfields has been recommended for approval by the state's environmental watchdog, just weeks after a similar proposal in the area was knocked back.
The Environmental Protection Authority [EPA] granted the approval for Vimy Resources' Mulga Rock uranium project, which is 240 kilometres east-north-east of Kalgoorlie, subject to a range of conditions.
Final approval is still required from both the state and federal environment ministers.
The company plans to mine up to 4.5 million tonnes of ore per year from four deposits, to produce up to 1,360 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate (UOC) [1,153 t U] each year, for 16 years. It wants to transport the concentrate from the site by road to Port Adelaide in sealed steel drums within a secure shipping container.
The Conservation Council of WA said it would appeal the proposed mine because it threatened a pristine environmentally and culturally-significant area. The EPA's report is open for a two-week public appeal period. (ABC Aug. 15, 2016)
Appeals period closing date: 29 August 2016.
> View WA EPA release Aug. 15, 2016
> Download Report and recommendations of the Environmental Protection Authority, Mulga Rock Uranium Project, Vimy Resources Limited , Report 1576, August 2016
Feasibility Study commissioned for Mulga Rock mine project: Vimy Resources has named GR Engineering to conduct a feasibility study for its Mulga Rock uranium project. The study will build on the outcomes of the pre-feasibility study released in November last year. (The West Australian Mar. 3, 2016)
Public Environmental Review for Mulga Rock uranium mine project released for public comment:
On Dec. 14, 2015, Vimy Resources Ltd released the Public Environmental Review (PER) for its Mulga Rock Project. The project will involve shallow open pit mining of four poly-metallic deposits with commercial grades of uranium. The project has a life of mine of 16 years and will produce 1,360 t of uranium oxide concentrate [1,153 t U] annually.
Submit comments by March 8, 2016.
> Mulga Rock consultation page (WA EPA)
> Download PER documents (Vimy Resources)
Positive Pre-Feasibility Study announced for Mulga Rock mine project:
On Nov. 17, 2015, Vimy Resources Ltd anounced the completion of the Mulga Rock Uranium Project Pre-Feasibility study. The study assumes a uranium sales price of US$ 65 per lb U3O8, while the current spot price is US$ 36 per lb U3O8.
> Calculate Mine Feasibility
Positive Scoping Study announced for Mulga Rock mine project, assuming twice current uranium spot price: On May 6, 2015, Vimy Resources Ltd anounced the completion of the Mulga Rock Uranium Project scoping study. According to Vimy, the Scoping Study indicates that the project is economic at current long-term contract prices for uranium [i.e. US$ 49 per lb U3O8 (UxC)]. The study uses, however, a base case uranium price of US$ 75 per lb U3O8 - more than twice UxC's current weekly spot price of US$ 35.75 per U3O8.
Comments invited on Environmental Scoping Document for Mulga Rock uranium mine project:
Submit comments by 22 December 2014.
> Download Mulga Rock Environmental Scoping Document: EAMA (4.3MB PDF) · WA EPA (1.4MB PDF)
> Download Invitation for submissions (128k PDF - EAMA)
> Access WA EPA Mulga Rock consultation page
On Feb. 26, 2015, Vimy Resources Ltd anounced that the Environmental Protection Authority of Western Australia has approved the Environmental Scoping Document for the Mulga Rock Uranium Project.
Public comment invited on Referral for Mulga Rock uranium mine project:
On Dec. 6, 2013, Environment Australia released the Referral for the Mulga Rock uranium mining project.
The proposed action is the development of open pit uranium mining operations at four sites, the construction and operation of associated ore processing consisting of uranium extraction and uranium concentrate packing facilities, and the necessary infrastructure required to support this action. The preferred processing route is expected to be an agitated atmospheric pressure acid leach with resin-in-pulp extraction.
The ore would be mined by traditional open cut techniques, crushed and beneficiated and then processed at an on-site leach and precipitation treatment plant to produce up to 1,360 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate [1,153 t U] per year. The anticipated life of mine is up to fifteen years, based upon the currently identified resources. The project currently consists of four identified deposits: Princess, Ambassador, Shogun and Emperor.
Pit dewatering will be required for open cut mining to proceed as the water table is typically between 20 to 40 metres below ground level and the water is saline. Abstracted groundwater will be considered for re-use in the processing plant and blended with additional lower salinity water extracted from a borefield located around 40 kilometres to the north-north-east. Any surplus groundwater from mine dewatering will be re-injected into suitable local aquifers of comparable or lower quality.
The site will include a processing plant, Run of Mine (ROM) ore stockpile area, construction of above-ground waste rock landforms for un-mineralised waste rock materials, an initial short term above-ground tailings storage facility and water storage/evaporation facilities. Once there is sufficient void to accommodate them, tailings will be deposited back into the pit and capped with un-mineralised waste rock.
Deadline date is 20 December 2013.
> Download Referral: Energy and Minerals Australia Limited/Mining/240 Km north east of Kalgoorlie/WA/Develop the Mulga Rock Uranium Project, Reference Number: 2013/7083
On Jan. 7, 2014, Environment Australia issued its referral decision: the project will require assessment and approval under the EPBC Act before it can proceed.
On July 20, 2012, Energy and Minerals Australia Limited announced that the WA Department of Mines has granted the mining leases for the Mulga Rock Project.
On May 9, 2011, Energy and Minerals Australia Limited announced that it has lodged two Mining Lease Applications over its Mulga Rock deposits.
On Nov. 4, 2010, Energy and Minerals Australia Limited announced a positive outcome of its scoping study on the Ambassador deposit. The study investigated uranium production by open pit mining and Resin in Pulp (RIP) of the lignite-hosted deposit, concurrent with Insitu Recovery (ISR) of adjacent sandstone-hosted deposits.
On July 12, 2010, Energy and Minerals Australia Ltd reports that ANSTO Minerals has successfully completed scoping study level process development testwork for the recovery of uranium from lignite and sandstone hosted material at the Mulga Rock Deposits. The testwork demonstrated that reasonably high uranium extraction can be achieved using conventional commercially proven processing methods.
> View deposit details
Traditional Owners sign mining agreement for Wiluna uranium mine project: On July 7, 2016, Toro Energy Ltd announced that it has signed an agreement with the Wiluna People providing the consent of native title holders. The agreement covers the Millipede, Centipede and Lake Way uranium deposits. There is currently no native title claim over Lake Maitland. Toro has been engaging with the Barwidgee People who claim an interest in Lake Maitland.
State environment minister approves Millipede and Lake Maitland extensions to Wiluna uranium mine project:
Toro Energy has received State environmental approval to expand its Wiluna uranium project, five years after it became the first uranium miner in WA to secure approval at its Centipede and Lake Way deposits.
The State Government tick means Toro is cleared to include the Lake Maitland and Millipede deposits to its mineral base, doubling its indicated and inferred resource to more than 40 million pounds of uranium oxide.
Under the terms of Environment Minister Albert Jacob's approval, the company would need to begin mining the deposits within five years. The company will now wait on Federal approval, which is typically decided after the State process is complete. (The West Australian Jan. 9, 2017)
> Download Ministerial Statement No. 1051 , Jan. 9, 2017 (912kB PDF)
State minister in part allows appeals against state EPA's endorsement of Millipede and Lake Maitland extensions to Wiluna uranium mine project:
> Download: Minister's Appeal Determination, Appeal Numbers: 074-087 of 2016 , Dec. 14, 2016 (66k PDF)
> Download: Appeals Convenor's report , Dec. 2016 (470k PDF)
State Environmental Protection Authority recommends approval of Millipede and Lake Maitland extensions to Wiluna uranium mine project:
Appeals period closing date: 20 September 2016.
> Download Report and recommendations of the Environmental Protection Authority , Sep. 6, 2016 (WA EPA)
Public Environmental Review for Millipede and Lake Maitland extensions to Wiluna uranium mine project released for comment:
Submit comments by February 8, 2016.
> Public Environmental Review - Extension to the Wiluna Uranium Project (WA EPA)
> Download Toro Energy release Nov. 16, 2015 (470k PDF)
> Download PER Summary (2.2MB PDF - Toro Energy)
> Download PER (46.9MB PDF - Toro Energy)
> Download PER Appendices (Toro Energy)
Public Environmental Review lodged for Millipede and Lake Maitland extensions to Wiluna uranium mine project: On Aug. 25, 2015, Toro Energy Ltd. announced it has lodged a draft Public Environmental Review (PER) with the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). The Review assesses in detail, the impacts of the proposed extension of the Wiluna Project through development of its Millipede and Lake Maitland deposits. The PER is scheduled for release later this year for a 12 week public review.
Public comment invited on Environmental Scoping Document for Millipede and Lake Maitland extensions to Wiluna uranium mine project:
On Oct. 6, 2014, Toro Energy Limited released its Environmental Scoping Document (ESD) for environmental assessment of extending the company's Wiluna Uranium Project.
Submit comments by October 20, 2014.
> View WA EPA consultation page
> Download Environmental Scoping Document , Sep. 2014 (1.6MB PDF - Toro Energy Ltd)
On Feb. 18, 2015, Toro Energy Limited announced that the the Board of the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority has approved the Environmental Scoping Document for the Wiluna Project extension. The Public Environmental Review is to be released for consultation mid-year.
Wiluna Martu peoples against expansion of uranium mining project:
Elders have condemned a move by Toro Energy to expand their yet unrealised Wiluna mine plan into a much larger uranium precinct spanning 100km and which will destroy ecologically sensitive lake systems. Local Wiluna Elder Glen Cooke said everything must be done to prevent this mine which is intended as Western Australia's first uranium mine - the first of many.
"The lives of not only our people today are at stake but the future of our people into time immemorial. This uranium mining if it goes ahead will spell the end of us as custodians of the land. It will make toxic the land, preventing us from caring for the land, it will poison the rivers that we swim in, drink and fish from," said Mr Cooke. (The Stringer Mar. 29, 2014)
Licensing process initiated for Millipede and Lake Maitland extensions of Wiluna uranium mine project:
On Feb. 21, 2014, Toro Energy Limited announced it has initiated the government assessment and approval process to mine the additional deposits Millipede and Lake Maitland at its Wiluna uranium project in Western Australia.
Deadline date for comments on the referral submitted is 11 March 2014.
> View Referral 2014/7138 (EPBC)
On Oct. 12, 2016, the Department of the Environment and Energy announced that the "relevant period in which the Minister must make a decision whether or not to approve the controlled action is extended by 40 business days to 13 December 2016."
Mining Scoping Study completed on extended Wiluna project:
On Jan. 30, 2014, Toro Energy Limited announced the completion of an independent Mining Scoping Study and a Preliminary Economic Assessment integrating the newly acquired Lake Maitland deposit into the Wiluna Uranium Project in Western Australia. However, as Ore Reserves are yet to be determined, Toro makes no claim as to the economic viability.
Toro will soon initiate the government assessment and approval process for both Millipede and Lake Maitland deposits.
Start for Wiluna uranium mine project pushed back due to depressed market:
Toro Energy has pushed back the start date for its Wiluna uranium project while it waits for market conditions to improve. The company began drilling at the project in 2014 and had expected to start operations in 2017.
"We will get to build Wiluna when we get the price that makes Wiluna economic. We are not seeing that price today," managing director Vanessa Guthrie told AAP. The project will require prices between $60 and $70 a pound to make money, Dr Guthrie said. Long term uranium prices currently hover around $45 per pound, almost half the levels of five years ago. Prices are expected to dip further because of large stockpiles.
Production at Wiluna is now likely start between 2018 and 2020. (Business Spectator Oct. 1, 2015)
Native title covering Wiluna uranium project officially acknowledged: Traditional owners from Wiluna in the northern Goldfields have been officially acknowledged by the Federal Court, enshrining their rights ahead of final negotiations over WA's first uranium mine. At a ceremony in the remote town 950 km north-east of Perth yesterday, Justice Neil McKerracher ended 16 years of process by formally recognising the native title determination of the Wiluna claim group. (The West Australian July 30, 2013)
Company in "commercial negotiations" with Traditional Owners of Wiluna uranium mine project site: Miner Toro Energy says it is in commercial negotiations with the traditional owners of the land at its proposed uranium mine site at Wiluna. Managing director Vanessa Guthrie says the local Indigenous people have been very receptive towards the $269 million project. (ABC June 28, 2013)
Viability of Wiluna uranium mine project questioned:
An economist is warning that the first proposed uranium mine in Western Australia may struggle to get off the ground.
The comments are made in a report, commissioned by Greens Senator Scott Ludlam and environmental groups, into the viability of Toro Energy's proposed Wiluna project.
The study by 'Economics at Large' indicates the project's profitability relies on a number of sensitive factors.
Senator Ludlam claims the project will just manage to be financially viable if Toro can avoid clean-up and decommissioning costs. He says Toro has not submitted a costed mine closure plan and the numbers are against the company when the cost of the clean-up is factored in. (ABC May 20, 2013)
> Download: Osos sobre Toro: Assessment of Wiluna Uranium Project , a report for Senator Scott Ludlam and the member groups of the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia, prepared by Economists at Large, Melbourne, Australia, 2013 (1.4MB PDF)
Wiluna uranium mine project obtains approval of federal environment minister:
On April 2, 2013, federal environment minister Tony Burke approved the Wiluna uranium mine project with conditions.
> Download Decision Apr. 2, 2013 (2.7MB PDF)
Mining expert cautions about long-term environmental impacts of proposed Wiluna uranium mine:
An Australian expert on mining sustainability has highlighted some of the key environmental aspects for West Australia, as the state moves closer to its first uranium mine.
Monash University mining expert Gavin Mudd says the primary issues concern the management of tailings and waste rock, as well as water use, contamination and other aspects local to the mine site.
"How the mine will manage tailings -- it's not clear how that will happen effectively. There are some viable strategies in place, such as back filling the pit with tailings as the process occurs," he says. "But there hasn't been any clear, convincing information as to what the chemistry would be, or the fact that it really will be stable for 10,000 years or more."
"Waste rock also is an important issue, as leaching off of waste rock includes low grade uranium so any water that leaches has to be managed and treated. At the Rum Jungle uranium mine for example, there has been massive amounts of acid rock drainage that has leaked uranium and a range of heavy metals and salts directly into nearby river systems."
Dr Mudd also highlighted the use and contamination of ground water sources in the area as a key issue, saying there have been issues at other uranium mines across Australia and it remains unclear where water for this site will come from or what techniques will be used to source it. (ScienceNetwork WA Dec. 23, 2012)
Federal Environment Minister defers decision on Wiluna uranium mine project: Toro Energy was informed by Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke today (Dec. 18) that he wanted more information on the project before making a decision. The project has already secured State Government environmental approval. (West Australian Dec. 18, 2012)
Opponents of Wiluna uranium mine project protest at Toro Energy's AGM in Adelaide and in its West Perth office:
Anti-uranium protesters are at a mining company's annual general meeting in Adelaide today to try and change the mind of shareholders.
The Conservation Council of WA says shareholders are being mislead about the true state of the uranium and nuclear industries.
The council's Mia Pepper says the AGM is being targeted to provide balance on the issue.
"Young and new uranium companies promote a rising uranium price and an increase in nuclear power, and all the evidence suggests that's not true," she said.
(ABC Nov. 28, 2012)
Anti-nuclear protesters have been escorted by police from a uranium explorer's West Perth office after they staged a brief demonstration in the company's reception area. Toro Energy, which plans to develop Western Australia's first uranium mine with its Wiluna project, said about half a dozen protesters from the Anti Nuclear Association of WA emptied three bags of dyed yellow sand onto the floor and spread it throughout the office. (Courier Mail Nov. 28, 2012)
Wiluna uranium mine project viable only after significant increase of uranium price:
On Nov. 28, 2012, Toro Energy Ltd issued new details on the expected economics of its Wiluna uranium mine project. Based on forecasts "from various investment bank estimates", the company's economic model assumes a long-term uranium price of US$ 75 per lb U3O8, while the current long-term price is US$ 59.50, and the current spot price even as low as US$ 42.00.
It is, moreover, highly unlikely that a new producer will be able to sell its uranium at the full long-term price. Experience shows that the sales price will more likely end up somewhere between the spot and the long-term price. So, the mine project most likely would not be feasible at current market prices, it rather relies on significant future increases of the uranium price.
> Calculate Mine Feasibility
Protest in Perth against State's environmental approval for Wiluna uranium mine:
A small group of environmentalists has marched to Parliament House in Perth to protest against a State Government decision to approve WA's first uranium mine.
The Government yesterday gave South Australian-based mining company Toro Energy final environmental approval for its uranium mine near Wiluna in the northern Goldfields.
Toro hopes to have the mine operating by 2014.
But a traditional Goldfields Elder says the fight to prevent uranium mining in WA is far from over. Kado Muir says a coalition of opposition groups is mobilising to prevent the mine from receiving Commonwealth approval. Mr Muir says it will be Aboriginal communities that will be most affected. Mr Muir, says several environmental and safety concerns have not been addressed by the Government. (ABC Oct. 11, 2012)
The Anti Nuclear Alliance of WA today said it would fight in court the approval granted by state environment minister Bill Marmion a day prior. ANAWA spokesman Marcus Atkinson labelled Toro "a small, inexperienced company with no proven track record" and the uranium sector "a dying industry which is unsafe, unwanted and unnecessary". The Conservation Council of WA echoed ANAWA's comments, saying the uranium sector was not welcome in WA. (Courier Mail Oct. 11, 2012)
Wiluna uranium mine project obtains State's environmental approval:
Environment Minister Bill Marmion has approved the State's first uranium mine, announcing today he has granted final environmental approval Toro Energy's proposed mine near Wiluna.
In May, the Environmental Protection Authority recommended the approval of the project, which would produce about 820 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate each year over a life of 14 years.
Objections to the plan were largely rejected by the Office of the Appeals Convenor late last month, and Mr Marmion delivered the final State Government Approval early this afternoon, saying the mine would be subject to "a number of strict conditions".
In a statement released by Toro Energy managing director Greg Hall said the company was still awaiting final Federal Government approvals, but welcomed Mr Marmion's decision. Toro is yet to source funding for the estimated $280 million capital costs of the project, but is targeting first production by 2014. (The West Australian Oct. 10, 2012)
Additional conditions imposed on Wiluna uranium mine project:
Environment Minister Bill Marmion on Wednesday (Sep. 19) released his determination of nine appeals against the Environmental Protection Authority's (EPA's) May decision to allow the Wiluna development, as well as the report of the independent appeals committee on the proposed mine.
The committee considered 21 grounds of appeal and recommended a number of changes to the EPA's draft conditions. Marmion said that these conditions would strengthen protection of stygofauna [fauna living within groundwater systems] and groundwater-dependent vegetation, including Tecticornia samphires, and better address surface water flows, dust management and rehabilitation. Toro would also be required to research the water requirements of groundwater-dependent vegetation and more closely monitor stygofauna in the three calcrete ecosystems to be partially impacted by the proposal. (Mining Weekly 19 Sep 2012)
Decision on Wiluna uranium mine project deferred: The timeline for WA's planned first uranium mine has slipped following a rigorous environmental assessment phase. Toro Energy today announced a revised target date for a final board decision on whether to proceed with its Wiluna project in central WA, moving it back to the first half of 2013. The company had previously expected to make a final decision by the end of 2012. (West Australian July 19, 2012)
Appeals lodged against environmental approval for Wiluna uranium mine project:
Two separate court appeals have been lodged against environmental approval for WA's first uranium mine, potentially delaying the controversial project.
Last night, the Conservation Council of WA lodged an appeal in the WA Environment Court.
Aboriginal elder and Wiluna resident Glen Cooke also lodged a separate challenge.
CCWA director Piers Verstegen said there were numerous "critical deficiencies" in the ERA's decision. "Importantly, the state government has made commitments to 'world's best practice' regulation of uranium mining in WA, but their own independent report has found that the current system fails that test," Mr Verstegen said. "We do not believe that the EPA assessment adequately deals with critical environmental risks including the management of radioactive mine tailings, contamination of groundwater and the transport of radioactive material through WA communities." CCWA also claims there was a denial of procedural fairness and the EPA failured to comply with their own procedures during the assessment process. (Sydney Morning Herald June 7, 2012)
Protest against Wiluna uranium mine project outside state EPA offices: A group of anti-uranium mine protesters have gathered outside the Environmental Protection Authority head offices. The group of about 25 people are opposed to the development of a proposed uranium mine outside Wiluna. The mine, near Lake Way in the mid-west, was granted approval by the EPA on Monday. The group waved placards and handed out pamphlets outside the offices for more than an hour outside the offices. (West Australian May 23, 2012)
Collect specimens and clone later: West Australian approach to protection of endangered species facing extinction by proposed Wiluna uranium mine...(!)
New species of native succulent plants appear to have been discovered at the site of a planned uranium mine in Western Australia, the state's independent environment watchdog says. Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) chairman Paul Vogel said it appeared new species of tecticornia were present at Toro Energy's Wiluna uranium project in the Mid-West region.
"They will need to take specimens from inside and outside the mine footprint ... to ensure that if there are new species, the genetic material is preserved. Then, when the mine is rehabilitated, you can clone those species potentially and put them back into the environment." (Trading Room May 22, 2012)
On May 21, 2012, the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommended approval for the Wiluna Uranium Project.
EPA Chairman Paul Vogel said the main ecological issues were about the protection of a local plant species called Tecticornia and the protection of underground stygofauna species. While stygofauna were unlikely to be impacted significantly, the EPA recommended strict conditions, including offsets, to ensure the protection of the Tecticornia.
The appeals period for this decision closes on June 5, 2012.
> View WA EPA release May 21, 2012 .
> View WA EPA Wiluna EIA page
On July 25, 2011, Toro Energy Ltd released its Environmental Review and Management Programme (ERMP - elsewhere in Australia known as an Environmental Impact Statement) and associated documentation for Wiluna, including a range of environmental management strategies and detailed technical study reports.
"MAJOR PROJECT COMPONENTSThe closing date for submissions is 31 October 2011.
Mining: The mineralisation for the Centipede and Lake Way deposits is between 1 metre and 15 metres below the land surface with the ore body varying in thickness up to about 6.5 m. Because of the shallow nature of the deposits, the open pit mining would be undertaken by surface miners and conventional excavators. Surface miners are tracked vehicles with cutting drums which can break up very thin layers of material. It is unlikely drilling and blasting would be required. As the uranium resource occurs at or below the water table in both deposits, dewatering of the open pits would be required. Water barriers would be installed to minimise the amount of water that would have to be pumped from the pits. When mining is undertaken at Lake Way, the ore would be transported by a dedicated haul road to the processing plant close to the Centipede deposit.
Processing: The ore would be processed to extract uranium by the conventional agitated leach method. The process plant would have a grinding mill, mechanically agitated leach tanks and solution thickeners. Tailings, the material left after the uranium is extracted, would be stored in mined out voids of the Centipede pit. [...]"
On Mar. 3, 2011, Toro Energy Limited announced that it has submitted an Environmental Management Review Programme/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (ERMP/Draft EIS) for its Wiluna project. The ERMP/Draft EIS has been submitted to the Environmental Protection Authority of Western Australia which is leading the Government assessment of the Project under a bilateral agreement between the Western Australian and Federal Governments.
On Sep. 20, 2010, Toro Energy Ltd announced that the Environmental Protection Authority of Western Australia (EPA) has approved the Environmental Scoping Document (ESD) for Toro Energy's 100%-owned Wiluna Uranium Project.
The EPA's approval of the ESD allows Toro to proceed with the preparation of an Environmental Review and Management Programme (ERMP) on which final Government decisions about the Project will be based. The ESD identifies the further environmental studies Toro will be required to undertake to complete its ERMP. Toro is working to have the ERMP on public exhibition in the second quarter of 2011.
On June 21, 2010, the Environmental Scoping Document for the Wiluna Uranium Project was released for public comment.
Comments have to filed by July 5, 2010.
Summary: Toro Energy Limited proposes to develop the Wiluna Uranium Project located near Wiluna, Western Australia. The project would involve mining and processing of up to about 2 million tonnes (Mt) of mineralised ore per year over an anticipated mine life of up to 14 years, producing the equivalent of about 1200 tonnes per annum of uranium oxide concentrate. In accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1986, a draft Environmental Scoping Document has been prepared which describes the proposal and the investigations which are proposed by Toro to investigate the likely effects of the project on the environment.> Download Environmental Scoping Document (2M PDF): Toro Energy Ltd · WA EPA
West Australia Environment Minister dismisses appeal aiming at higher level of assessment for Wiluna uranium mine project: The Environment Minister Donna Faragher has dismissed an appeal against the level of assessment set for a uranium project in the Mid West. The Environmental Protection Authority recommended an Environmental Review and Management Program assessment be applied to Toro Energy's proposed yellow cake project, near Wiluna. The Government made a similar determination in relation to BHP's nearby Yeelirrie mine. Ms Faragher dismissed an appeal by WA Greens MP Robin Chapple, saying she was satisfied with the level of assessment applied. Mr Chapple says he is disappointed but not surprised. "The reason for the appeal was that in that particular area we're going to have a large number of uranium mines with all the prospects that are going on in that area and there is going to be cumulative impact," he said. (ABC Feb. 3, 2010)
On Oct. 28, 2009, Toro Energy Limited announced that it has lodged an environmental application for its Wiluna Uranium Project. The Wiluna referral will allow the Western Australian and Federal Governments to determine the form of environmental assessment to apply to development of the uranium resource.
Toro Managing Director, Mr Greg Hall, said:
"Our preferred process route currently is an alkaline heap leach operation based on open pit mining of the shallow mineralisation, at an annual rate of approximately 1.6 million tonnes, generating an average 730 tonnes p.a. of uranium oxide."
> Download Referral 2009/5174
On Apr. 9, 2009, Toro Energy Limited lodged an application for a Mining Lease over its Lake Way uranium deposit near Wiluna in WA. The Lake Way deposit, along with the Centipede deposit 15kms to the south, comprise the 100% owned Wiluna Uranium Project for Toro. The Mining Lease application at Lake Way will provide certainty regarding tenure of the deposit, however, the tenement grant would not provide any approvals for mining or operations. A mining lease has previously been granted over the Centipede uranium deposit.
On Sep. 23, 2008, Toro Energy Ltd announced that mining and processing of the Lakeway-Centipede uranium deposits would be economic at current long-term uranium prices of around US$80 per pound U3O8, according to results of a pre-feasibility study.
> View deposit details
State environmental minister approves Yeelirrie uranium mine project in spite of state EPA's opposition:
The state government has approved Canadian miner Cameco's proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine in the Goldfields, despite it failing to meet one of the environmental watchdog's strict recommendations.
A ministerial statement uploaded to the Environmental Protection Authority's website this afternoon revealed the Yeelirrie mine, located about 70 kilometres south-west of Wiluna, had been approved for development, and detailed the conditions.
(Business News Jan. 16, 2017)
> View WA government media statement, Jan. 16, 2017
> Download Ministerial Statement No. 1053, Jan. 16, 2017 (PDF)
> View related documents (WA EPA)
State minister dismisses Cameco's appeal against state EPA's opposition to development of Yeelirrie uranium mine project:
In a rare move for the pro-mining Barnett government, environment minister Albert Jacob has sided with the Environmental Protection Authority and rejected appeals by Canadian company Cameco over its proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine in the Goldfields.
The projects's fate now rests with a final decision by Mr Jacob, who said he would take account of both the EPA report as well as broader commercial and economic considerations. (Business News Dec. 14, 2016)
> Download: Minister's Appeal Determination, Appeal Numbers: 025-044 of 2016 , Dec. 14, 2016 (43k PDF)
> Download Appeals Convenor's Report , Dec. 2016 (578k PDF)
Tiny creatures prompt Australia to reject uranium mine*) - State Environmental Protection Authority opposes Yeelirrie uranium mine project:
WA's environmental regulator has urged the Government to knock back plans for the development of the State's biggest uranium deposit, Yeelirrie, because of a threat to subterranean fauna in the area, 70km west of Wiluna.
In a surprise move, the Environmental Protection Authority said today that Cameco's development proposal could not meet one of the nine key environmental factors examined by the EPA.
The EPA's finding will be open to a two-week public appeal period before Environment Minister Albert Jacob makes a final decision. (The West Australian Aug. 3, 2016)
*) This was the headline of the related AFP news. It instantly made it to the shortlist for our Uranium Headline of the Year Award.
> View: WA EPA release Aug. 3, 2016
> Download: Report and recommendations of the Environmental Protection Authority, Yeelirrie Uranium Project , Report 1574, August 2016 (WA EPA)
Public Environmental Review document released for Yeelirrie uranium mine project:
Releasing its public environmental review (PER) document today, Cameco said Yeelirrie would be designed to produce 7500 to tonnes of uranium oxide, or yellowcake, a year, which would be packed into drums and trucked to Adelaide's port for shipping to nuclear power plant customers.
However, Cameco warned that Yeelirrie's development - it did not provide an indicative capital budget or start-up date but said up to 1200 construction jobs would be created - was reliant on "favourable market conditions and government approvals".
The PER is a key step in the approvals process and will be open for public consultation until December. (West Australian Sep. 21, 2015)
The PER is available for public review until December 14, 2015.
> View: Cameco release Sep. 21, 2015
> Download: Public Environmental Review (Cameco)
> View: Public Environmental Review - Yeelirrie Uranium Project (WA EPA)
Conservation council highlights opposition to Yeelirrie uranium mine bid: The WA Conservation Council says traditional owners and locals in the northern Goldfields oppose Canadian giant Cameco's application to mine uranium. The EPA approved a similar proposal for the same project submitted by BHP Billiton in 2010, before it was sold to Cameco in 2012. The council's Mia Pepper said a public inquiry into the project was needed. She said traditional owners and locals in the area had opposed uranium mining at Yeelirrie for 40 years. (ABC Dec. 10, 2014)
Cameco submits new referral with doubled production rate for Yeelirrie uranium mine project:
On Nov. 12, 2014, Cameco requested the WA EPA to terminate the 2009 referral for the Yeelirrie project and submitted a new referral for two reasons: doubling of the ore processing rate to 2.4 million t per year, and benefits to having the project assessed under the 2012 Administrative Amendments.
Cameco Australia Ltd proposes to mine and process up to 7,500 tonnes per annum of uranium oxide concentrate for 17 years at Yeelirrie, in the Northern Goldfields region of Western Australia, approximately 420 km north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, 65 km west of Mount Keith and 70 km south of Wiluna.
Submit comments by 30 Nov. 2014.
> Access Yeelirrie Uranium Project consultation (WA EPA)
On Mar. 12 and 17, 2015, the Australian Department of Environment announced that the Yeelirrie uranium project, as described in the variation of proposal of Dec. 5, 2014, will be assessed by accredited assessment.
> Access Referral Ref. No. 2009/4906 detail (Environment Australia)
Cameco completes acquisition of Yeelirrie uranium deposit: On Dec. 18, 2012, Cameco announced that it has completed the acquisition of the Yeelirrie uranium project in Western Australia for US $430 million.
Rio Tinto and Paladin Energy oppose sale of Yeelirrie uranium deposit to Cameco: Rio Tinto and Paladin Energy have tried to scupper BHP Billiton's $430 million sale of the Yeelirrie uranium deposit to Canadian giant Cameco by asking the Federal Government to block the deal. It is understood Rio and Paladin made separate submissions to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) to express their opposition to the proposed sale of WA's biggest uranium deposit. However, Rio and Paladin's opposition appears to have failed, with FIRB thought to have recommended that Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan approve the deal. Rio, Paladin and Cameco did not comment. (The West Australian Nov. 22, 2012)
Traditional owner opposes Yeelirrie development: A traditional owner is planning to step up protests against uranium mining at Yeelirrie, near Wiluna. Kado Muir says the new owners of the Yeelirrie deposit in the Goldfields will have a tough time trying to develop a mine at the site. BHP Billiton has announced it is selling the deposit to Canadian-based Cameco. The Minister for Mines, Norman Moore, has welcomed the deal saying Cameco is more likely to develop a mine at the site. Mr Muir says he is concerned about the change of ownership. "With Cameco in place, it does cause quite a bit of concern for us because they are a company who will seek to develop the mine as quickly and as soon as they can," he said. "That just adds impetus to our campaign to ensure that WA remains a uranium-free state." (ABC Aug. 28, 2012)
BHP sells Yeelirrie uranium deposit to Cameco: On Aug. 27, 2012, BHP Billiton announced that it has signed an agreement to sell its wholly owned Yeelirrie uranium deposit in Western Australia to Cameco Corporation for US$430 million. The sale is subject to relevant approvals from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board and the Government of Western Australia.
BHP's commitment for Yeelirrie uranium mine project questioned, after environmental approval process put on hold: A fortnight after admitting it had put the Yeelirrie environmental approvals process on hold, BHP Billiton is understood to have begun dismantling the senior management team charged with overseeing WA's biggest uranium development. The management changes have increased speculation that BHP is considering severing ties with Yeelirrie, south of Wiluna, because it does not fit the miner's focus on tier-one assets. Yeelirrie was slated to enter production in 2014 at a rate of 3500 tonnes of uranium oxide a year. (West Australian June 20, 2011)
Protests at BHP Billiton AGM against Yeelirrie uranium mine project:
BHP Billiton has met with opposition from traditional owners over the development of the proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine at its annual general meeting in Perth today (Nov. 16).
About 60 people armed with posters, banners and a live band protested the mining giant's proposed uranium project outside of the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The Conservation Council of WA, UnionsWA and Indigenous representatives reiterated community opposition to BHP's Australian uranium mining plans amid highlighting BHP's failure to meet its own human and environmental standards overseas.
Traditional owner Kado Muir told PerthNow that many questions still needed to be answered. "We want to know what the landscape will be like at the end of the Yeelirrie mine," Muir said. "We don't want to be left with a toxic, radioactive outback." Traditional owners emphasised that they don't want uranium mining in their backyard. (PerthNow Nov. 16, 2010)
Kalgoorlie residents protest against uranium industry: Traditional owners from across WA have joined residents and politicians in an anti-uranium protest in Kalgoorlie. The protesters are opposed to development in WA's emerging uranium industry. There are also concerns about BHP Billiton's plans to transport yellow cake from its proposed Yeelirrie mine near Wiluna to Kalgoorlie where it will be loaded on to freight trains bound for Adelaide or Darwin. About 50 people are taking part in the rally. (ABC Mar. 27, 2010)
Children accessing old uranium site: BHP Billiton says it will step up security at an old uranium testing site in Kalgoorlie after concerns children are accessing the area. Labor's candidate for the federal seat of O'Connor, Ian Bishop, says damage to a security gate has allowed children to enter the site at Hannan's north on dirt bikes. More than 5,000 tonnes of tailings from the Yeelirrie uranium deposit, near Wiluna, were buried in the area after BHP stopped testing ore-processing there in the 1980s. The company says the site has been rehabilitated and an independent study conducted last year cleared it of any dangerous radiation levels. Meanwhile, a BHP spokeswoman says the damage to the fence is being fixed and security in the area will be improved. (ABC Mar. 3, 2010)
Draft Environmental Scoping Document for downsized Yeelirrie uranium mine project available for public review:
BHP Billiton has cut projections for its proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine in Western Australia by nearly a third, ruling out a heap acid leach component at the site as uneconomic.
Instead of a 5000 tonne a year mine that would rival the Rio Tinto-controlled Ranger in the Northern Territory as the nation's biggest, BHP is seeking approval for a 3500 tonne a year operation, according to an environmental scoping document on the project.
(Australian Feb. 9, 2010)
The draft Environmental Scoping Document is available for a public review period of 2 weeks, closing on 22 February 2010.
> View BHP Base Metals
> Download Draft Environmental Scoping Document, Yeelirrie Uranium Project, Feb. 2010 (13.5MB PDF)
Indigenous leader maintains protest against Yeelirrie uranium project: A Goldfields Aboriginal leader has vowed to continue opposing plans to establish uranium mining in the region. Geoffrey Stokes was among a group of elders and conservationists protesting outside BHP Billiton's annual general meeting in Brisbane yesterday (Nov. 26). Mr Stokes is opposed to the development of the company's Yeelirrie uranium project near Wiluna. He has accused the State Government of failing to listen to the concerns of local Aboriginal people. (ABC Nov. 27, 2009)
West Australia government denies possibility of public inquiry into Yeelirrie uranium mine project; extends consultation period:
Environment Minister Donna Faragher has today ruled out holding a public inquiry into BHP Billiton's proposal for a $17 billion uranium mine in WA.
WA Labor, conservation groups, Greens, indigenous communities and the Unions WA have been calling for a 30-year-old act governing uranium mining in the state to be overhauled.
They say a tougher assessment process for proposed uranium mines needs to be established.
But Mrs Faragher said the level of assessment had been set at the highest level under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 and a public inquiry was not possible.
"I have, however, considered the issues raised in the appeals and believe there is merit in extending the public consultation period." Ms Faragher has now extended consultation period for the public from the usual 10 weeks to 14. (Perth Now Oct. 9, 2009)
Aboriginal ecology to be included in assessments:
Aborigines are claiming a landmark victory after the West Australian government told BHP Billiton to incorporate their ecological knowledge into future land clearing at its giant Yeelirrie uranium prospect.
The Ngalia people of the state's eastern goldfields, who use the land for food gathering and tribal ceremonies, lost an appeal to stop a small 10ha site being cleared, but won government support for their knowledge to be part of any future decisions. Ngalia spokesman Kado Muir said it was a significant step. "We see it as a victory because it establishes, for the first time that I know of, an indigenous ecological perspective in the land clearing process. To date its only ever really taken into account scientific-based flora and fauna studies," he said. "We are concerned about the plants which would have medicinal value, food value, and also provide an ecosystem for animals that we rely on; from honey ants to fauna like kangaroos and other animals." (The Australian Sep. 24, 2009)
Protesters have descended on BHP Billiton's head office to demand a public inquiry into its $17 billion uranium mine proposed for WA. More than 130 people protested outside BHP's Melbourne office today (July 8) calling for a 30-year-old agreement act governing uranium mining in WA to be overhauled. "The Yeelirrie agreement was ratified in 1978, which means we are working under a legal framework that is over 30 years old," nuclear free campaigner, Dave Sweeney, from the Australia Conservation Council, said. (Perth Now July 8, 2009)
Green groups and unions are pushing for an unprecedented level of environmental scrutiny over plans for WA's first uranium mine, calling for a public inquiry with the powers of a royal commission to assess BHP Billiton's proposed Yeelirrie project in the Goldfields. The WA Conservation Council lodged an appeal yesterday against the level of assessment set for the project by the Environmental Protection Authority, saying the watchdog needed to invoke previously unused powers under its legislation to ensure all possible impacts of the controversial proposal were subjected to an effective investigation. The EPA assigned an assessment level to BHP's proposal less than two weeks ago, recommending an environmental review and management program (ERMP) be used to evaluate the project. (The West Australian June 26, 2009)
BHP Billiton has submitted documents to the federal Environment Department signalling plans to start development at Yeelirrie in two years and to begin mining by 2014.
BHP Billiton said it planned to produce an average of 5000 tonnes of uranium a year from the deposit for more than 30 years.
The mine is yet to be approved by the board of BHP Billiton.
The documents lodged with the Environment Department are part of the environmental impact statement process, the first steps in obtaining government approval for the Yeelirrie project.
The Yeelirrie deposit is shallow - less than 5m below the surface - and easy to mine as an open pit but it will be massive. The deposit is 9km long and 1.5km wide.
(The Australian May 22, 2009)
> View Invitation to Comment: EPBC Notices : BHP Billiton Yeelirrie Development Company Pty Ltd/Mining/Shire of Wiluna/WA/Yeelirrie Uranium Mine, Reference Number: 2009/4906
Deadline Date: June 4, 2009
On 18 November 2008, BHP Billiton announced that it has formally advised the West Australian Government of its decision to reactivate the Yeelirrie Uranium Project. In a letter to the State Minister for Mines and Petroleum, The Hon Norman Moore, BHP Billiton has indicated it will first undertake a drilling program to confirm the resource. BHP Billiton is assembling a Project team to be based in Perth to evaluate mining and processing options and to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. The company will also commence community consultation. (WMC Nov. 18, 2008)
WMC has commenced remediation works at its Yeelirrie mine site in the North of Western Australia. The rehabilitiation plan has been developed with the approval of the State Mining Engineer and Radiological Council. Earthworks commenced on June 10th, 2004, and are expected to be completed in time for the revegetation work which will be completed by year-end to coincide with seasonal rains. (WMC June 18, 2004)
The Western Australia State Government has announced plans to terminate the Yeelirrie State Agreement that covers tenements 500 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie. WA State Development Minister Clive Brown says the holder of the tenements, WMC Resources, has agreed to stop mining uranium in the area and rehabilitate the land. The rehabilitation work will take place over the next six months, and WMC expects to complete its rehabilitation work by the end of the year 2004. (ABC Mar 31, 2004)
WMC said on 8 Feb. 2000 it would hand back the Yeelirrie uranium deposit to the WA Government if it failed to find a buyer in two years.
The company said it had spent $35 million at Yeelirrie, 75km south-west of Wiluna. But weak uranium prices in the past year had made it difficult for any new uranium project to get off the ground. (The West Australian 9 Feb. 2000)
The Western Mining Corporation has admitted leaving the contaminated trial uranium mine of Yeelirree exposed to the public, with inadequate fencing and warning signs, for more
than 10 years. People used a dam at the site for swimming, which
was found to be about 30 times above World Health Organisation
radiation safety standards. (The Age, 10 July 1997)
> View related page of WMC Environment Progress Report 1996
> View deposit details
> View Kintyre uranium project (Cameco)
Cameco writes off full value of Kintyre project: On Feb. 9, 2017, Cameco announced that it recognized an impairment charge for the full carrying value of its interest in Kintyre (CDN$ 238 million - fourth quarter).
Martu people to march 140 km in protest against Kintyre uranium mine project:
The Martu people from Indigenous communities in WA's Pilbara region are setting off on a week-long March to protest against a proposed uranium mine.
Residents from Parnngurr and surrounding communities will walk about 140 kilometres to the site of Cameco Australia's Kintyre project.
The Canadian-owned company received conditional approval last year from both the WA and Federal governments to develop the mine, approximately 270 kilometres north-east of Newman.
Indigenous leaders from nearby communities are concerned the project will affect their water supplies as well as 28 threatened species in the Karlamilyi National Park. (ABC June 4, 2016)
> View Karlamilyi Walk
Cameco's Kintyre uranium mine project obtains federal environmental approval:
On April 24, 2015, Cameco announced that Federal Minister for the Environment, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, today approved Cameco and Mitsubishi Development's Kintyre uranium project in the remote East Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Cameco Australia Managing Director Brian Reilly welcomed Minister Hunt's decision, which follows the approval granted by Western Australia's Environment Minister in March this year.
Minister Hunt's approval includes conditions covering radiation, ground and surface water, terrestrial fauna and mine closure, which are required to be met before mining can commence.
> Download Approval Decision Apr. 22, 2015 (1.1M PDF - Environment Australia)
Cameco's Kintyre uranium mine conditionally approved by Western Australia's Government:
A proposed uranium mine in Western Australia's Pilbara region has been granted conditional environmental approval by the State Government.
The WA Environmental Protection Authority recommended the project for conditional approval last July. WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob has now conditionally approved the project.
Cameco Australia's Managing Director Brian Reilly said a development decision would be made when market conditions were favourable to new uranium production. It is understood the project will now be subject to approval by the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who is expected to respond within 30 days. (ABC Mar. 5, 2015)
> Download Ministerial Approval Statement No. 997, March 4, 2015 (968k PDF)
Environmentalists have condemned the decision, citing concerns over the level of radiation monitoring required of the company throughout the Karlamilyi National Park, where the mine would be located. (ABC Mar. 6, 2015)
Environmental groups file appeal against state EPA approval for Kintyre uranium mine project:
A coalition of state and national environmental groups have raised concerns about water contamination and other impacts on Western Australia's largest National Park in an official appeal against the approval of the Kintyre uranium mine project in the Pilbara.
Conservation Council of Western Australia has joined with the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth and the Wilderness Society in the appeal against the mining proposal from Canadian company Cameco on land that was previously gazetted as part of Karlamilyi National Park. (CCWA Aug. 12, 2014)
Kintyre uranium mine project obtains state EPA approval:
A proposed uranium mine in the East Pilbara has been given conditional approval by Western Australia's environmental watchdog.
The EPA's report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period.
The regulator has recommended a set of conditions to control the impact on animals on the site.
Cameco Australia managing director Brian Reilly said a development decision would be made when market conditions signalled new uranium production was required.
(ABC July 28, 2014)
Appeals period closing date: 11 August 2014.
> Download: Report and recommendations of the Environmental Protection Authority , July 28, 2014 (2.5MB PDF)
> Access WA EPA Kintyre Uranium Project page
Petition against Kintyre uranium mine plan: Four green groups are preparing a petition to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), rejecting a proposed uranium mine in the east Pilbara. The EPA is assessing a proposal by Cameco to develop the Kintyre mine, near Karlamilyi National Park. There are fears the mine could affect drinking water supplies to a nearby Aboriginal community, as well as the park's natural waterways. A petition containing 2,500 signatures will be lodged with the authority today. (ABC Feb. 14, 2014)
Karlamilyi National Park threatened by Kintyre uranium mine project, conservationists say:
The Kintyre uranium deposit is nestled between two branches of Yanadagodge Creek which feeds springs and lake systems throughout the Karlamilyi National Park (formerly Rudall River National Park) and the communities of Punmu and Parngurr.
"We will use every available avenue to challenge this dangerous proposal," said CCWA (Conservation Council of WA) campaigner Mia Pepper. "Cameco's plan for a 1km wide, 1.5km long open pit only 500 metres from the Yanadagodge Creek could have devastating impacts on this fragile desert ecosystem."
> View Australian Conservation Foundation release Nov. 8, 2013: WA's biggest national park faces uranium threat
Cameco releases Environmental Review and Management Programme for Kintyre uranium mine project for comment:
The ERMP is available for public review until February 14, 2014.
> Download Environmental Review and Management Programme (ERMP) (Cameco)
> Access WA EPA consultation page
Cameco puts Kintyre uranium mine project on ice: Cameco president Timothy Gitzel has declared the company's Kintyre uranium deposit is officially "in the bull pen", indicating a uranium spot price of up to $90 a pound was needed before the mine came into consideration. The uranium spot price last hit $90/lb in January 2008. It was trading at $43.75/lb yesterday. (The West Australian Feb. 13, 2013)
C$168 million write-down on Kintyre uranium mine project In its quarterly report for the fourth quarter 2012, Cameco recorded a CDN $168 million write-down on the Kintyre project.
Cameco not proceeding with detailed feasibility study on Kintyre uranium deposit: In its Third Quarter Financial Report, Cameco announced on Oct. 31, 2012, that it is "completing the value engineering and the environmental permitting at Kintyre, but not proceeding with the detailed feasibility study".
Cameco secures support of Traditional Owners for development of Kintyre uranium deposit: On October 11, 2012, Cameco announced the signing of an agreement between Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation (WDLAC) (Jamukurnu-Yapalikunu). The agreement secures the support of the Martu people for development of the Kintyre uranium deposits in the Western Desert region of Australia. Cameco is carrying out further work to advance the Kintyre project toward a development decision.
Development of Kintyre uranium deposit deferred for poor economics:
The Kintyre project has fallen victim to sluggish demand and prices for the nuclear fuel, and WA's "hot" construction market for resource projects.
Project operator and 70 per cent owner, Canada's Cameco, has revealed that the economics of the project are "challenging" in that a development would not be profitable at current uranium prices. Prices are 34 per cent below where they need to be for a viable project.
Cameco chief executive Tim Gitzel told analysts that Cameco was "not going to develop Kintyre at any cost." An eventual development of the mine is dependent on improved uranium prices, or a substantial increase in the project's resource base.
A recently completed prefeasibility study in to a development confirmed the challenging economics. It means that Cameco and its 30 per cent partner, Japan's Mitsubishi Development, will not begin development of what would have been WA's first uranium mine in early 2014 as first planned.
Cameco said that despite Kintyre being one of the world's biggest undeveloped uranium deposits (59.7 million pounds [23,000 t U]), a planned 7-year mine life that would recover 40 million pounds [15,400 t U] of uranium faced challenging economics "current uranium prices" and because of "continued cost escalation" in WA. "To break even, the prefeasibility study indicates the project would require an average realised price of about $US67 or about 62 million pounds [23,800 t U] of packaged production using a uranium price similar to today's spot price ($US50 a pound)," Cameco said. Cameco said it would now set out to improve overall project economics by stepping up exploration to increase the resource base. (The Australian July 29, 2012)
Construction of Kintyre uranium project to start after 2015: Cameco Corp. plans to start construction of its Kintyre uranium project in Australia after 2015, according to a copy of the miner's presentation at a conference in Perth today. (Bloomberg July 21, 2011)
Pre-feasibility study on mining of Kintyre uranium deposit started: Cameco president Tim Gitzel said the miner had started a pre-feasibility study on Kintyre that it hoped to complete in the first quarter of 2012. A Cameco spokeswoman said the company was still targeting a 2013 start-up of the mine and 2015 first production, which it has previously flagged at between 2700 tonnes and 3600 tonnes of uranium a year. (The Australian June 23, 2011)
Cameco releases Environmental Scoping Document on Kintyre uranium project:
Cameco Australia and Mitsubishi Corporation are seeking public comment on the environmental review proposed for the Kintyre uranium project. The companies' Environmental Scoping Document (ESD) identifies key environmental aspects of the project and sets out the new studies needed to confirm that the project is safe for people and the environment. The two-week public comment period on the ESD ends on April 11, 2011.
> View Cameco Australia - Kintytre - Community Information
> Download Kintyre Uranium Project Environmental Scoping Document, March 2011 (6.8M PDF - Cameco)
Cameco plans construction of Kintyre uranium mine from 2013:
Canada's Cameco Corp. said Wednesday (Sep. 8) that it may start construction of its Kintyre uranium venture in Western Australia by 2013, pitting it against several other companies aiming to become the state's first uranium mine.
"Construction is proposed to commence sometime after 2013 and operations after 2015," Cameco said in its invitation for public comment document lodged Tuesday with the Australian government's Department of the Environment.
The operation would aim to produce between 6 million to 8 million pounds per year of uranium oxide concentrate [2,308 to 3,077 t U] over an anticipated mine life of 15 years, the company said.
(Dow Jones Sep. 8, 2010)
> View Cameco Australia Pty Ltd Referral No. 2010/5637, Kintyre Uranium Project (Environment Australia)
Cameco has unveiled plans to speed up the development of the Kintyre uranium project in Western Australia. The company will restart an exploration program to confirm the resource and verify previous work and re-establish an exploration camp and infrastructure, the company said in a statement. (The Australian April 6, 2009)
On Aug. 11, 2008, Cameco announced that it has completed the acquisition of a 70% interest in the Kintyre uranium exploration project in Western Australia for $346.5 million (US). A joint venture comprised of Cameco (70%) and Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd (30%) purchased the Kintyre project from Rio Tinto for $495.0 million (US) through a bidding process. Cameco will operate the project and is funding its share of the purchase price through existing credit facilities.
Aboriginal landowners are set to secure equity involvement in development of the Kintyre uranium deposit in Western Australia (WA) after its sale by Rio Tinto to Canada's Cameco and Japan's Mitsubishi Development in a ground-breaking deal worth $US495 million ($A515 million). Kintyre is one of the world's biggest undeveloped uranium deposits (80 million pounds of uranium now worth $4.8 billion in its finished form) but its development has been held up by WA's continuing ban on uranium mine developments. But the traditional landowners, the Martu people, will join the new owners to pressure the WA Labor Government to lift the ban. (The Age July 11, 2008)
On July 9, 2008, Cameco Corporation announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire a 70% interest in the Kintyre uranium exploration project in Western Australia for US$ 346.5 million. A joint venture comprised of Cameco (70%) and Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd (30%) purchased the Kintyre project from Rio Tinto for US$ 495.0 million through a bidding process. Cameco will operate the project and is funding its share of the purchase price through existing credit facilities. The transaction is expected to close in August 2008 subject to ministerial approval in Western Australia and execution of certain agreements with the Martu people who are the traditional owners of the land.
Rio Tinto has lost critical Aboriginal support for the proposed sale of its high-grade Kintyre uranium deposit in Western Australia, raising the prospect that it could face a legal challenge to its rights to sell the $600 million property to one of the uranium groups it is lining up as a buyer. Undisclosed offers made by Rio to the Martu people, the traditional owners, to win their support for the sale process are said to have been "embarrassingly low" given that Martu support is crucial to Kintyre, one of Australia's biggest undeveloped uranium deposits, becoming a mine. (The Age March 19, 2008)
Rio Tinto has begun work on a new pre-feasibility study - the first move towards reviving the project which stalled in the late 1990s. The pre-feasibility study, which will include drilling to develop a new resource estimate, is expected to take two years. It will build on a previous study carried out in 1991. (Herald Sun May 12, 2007)
Kintyre put on back burner. After being "slowed down" last year, the Kintyre project is being placed under care and maintenance. The project team will be disbanded at the end of the year and administration of the site facilities will be returned to Rio Tinto Exploration pending increased uranium prices. The project is at an advanced stage of development and with improvement in the market Rio Tinto could quickly bring it into production. Resources of some 36,000 tonnes U3O8 would provide about 2000 t/yr from a very small plant after radiometric beneficiation. Rio Tinto. [UIC Weekly News Summary 16 October 1998]
Canning Resources, a Rio Tinto subsidiary, has referred the
Kintyre uranium project to the West Australian environmental authorities
and has notified its intention to seek export approvals from the
The scoping document proposes a 1200 t/yr U3O8 production with the potential to increase to 2000 t/yr. It envisages a capital investment of $120 million and annual revenue of $60-70 million. The total area disturbed, including up to five small open cuts, will be about three square kilometres (300 ha), with the treatment plant occupying about six hectares. An additional 100 ha will be required for infrastructure.
Tailings will be in two streams, both as filter cake which is buried in mine workings. The first is a conventional residue from acid leaching, containing most of the ore's radioactivity. The second is mixed gypsum and iron hydroxide from an iron precipitation stage. The other eventual waste will be some evaporite from process liquors which cannot be recycled. There will be no tailings dam. [UIC Weekly News Summary 21 June 1996]
For details of the environmental assessment process, see the Australian Environmental Protection Agency Environment Assessment Branch notifications on the Kintyre project .
For opponents view, see Anti-Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia .
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