PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has recommended that uranium developer Toro Energy’s Wiluna project be approved for development.
The environmental impact of Wiluna – the first uranium project in Western Australia – had been “meticulously examined”, EPA chairperson Paul Vogel said on Monday.
“As with all the proposals assessed by the EPA, I can assure the public we have applied the highest level of scrutiny in our examination of its environmental acceptability,” Vogel said.
The Wiluna mine would produce some two-million tons of ore, and around 1 200 t/y of uranium oxide, over a 14-year life-of-mine. Ore would be sourced from the Centipede and Lake Way deposits, some 550 km from Kalgoorlie.
The project was expected to start production in 2014/15, at a critical time when the nuclear sector would be seeking additional supplies.
Toro Energy MD Greg Hall said the EPA’s approval was an important milestone for the company and for the Western Australian uranium industry.
“While the Toro team members have significant experience within other uranium and mining operations, Wiluna is Toro’s first uranium project to receive a positive EPA recommendation in Western Australia since the change of government in 2008.”
Hall noted that the company was confident that its technical and environmental study work, as well as the rigorous assessment undertaken by the EPA would ensure a safe and sustainable mining operation.
The EPA’s report to the Minister of Environment would now be open for a two-week public appeal period, which would close on June 5. The state Minister would then make a decision following a review of the appeals.
Meanwhile, Toro was still awaiting a federal government decision on the project, which was anticipated once the state process was finalised.
Toro’s board was targeting a final investment decision by the end of this year, subject to final market and economic considerations.