PERTH (miningweekly.com) − Uranium hopeful Toro Energy on Tuesday said that it was looking at various options to fund its A$300-million Wiluna project, in Western Australia, including introducing a joint venture (JV) partner to the project.
Speaking at a media briefing in Perth, Toro MD Greg Hall said that the company had re-entered earnest JV discussions with six nuclear energy players.
“We started to investigate this more than two years ago, but at the time the equity markets were quite supportive, enabling us to take the project forward to this stage, 100%-owned by Toro.”
Hall said that the company was now at the stage to re-engage with potential JV partners, and would await the outcome of government approvals and the results from the final feasibility studies before signing a JV agreement.
However, he noted that the company would seek to maintain the majority of Wiluna’s production for direct sale to nuclear players, with the JV partner likely to claim a minority offtake.
“We would make sure that we retain around 50% to 60% of our offtake as direct sales. What that means is that we will probably have 40% of our offtake available for a JV partner, and that JV partner will probably want around 30% to 40% ownership of the project.”
Hall said that apart from the JV funding, Toro was also making sure that the company had access to debt and equity financing options.
Toro was currently engaging in the public review process of its government assessment, which was expected to close by the end of October. Hall noted that while Toro did not pre-empt government decisions, a final state approval for the project was expected by April or May next year.
Federal government approval for the Wiluna project was likely to follow by the middle of next year, he added.
Subject to government and board approval, Toro was planning to start production at Wiluna by 2013.
The project would involve mining up to two-million tons a year of mineralised ore, over about ten years, producing 700 t/y of uranium oxide concentrate.