Wiluna uranium mining project approved in WA


Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium project becomes the first ever in WA to receive state and federal environmental clearance

Wiluna uranium mining project approved in WA
Wiluna uranium mining project approved in WA

By Anna Game-Lopata | April 11, 2013

Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium mining project has become the first ever in Western Australia to receive state and federal environmental clearance.

Located in WA's Northern Goldfields, also a significant producer of iron ore, the
it is
30 kilometers south of Wiluna and 960 kilometres north east of Perth.

The proposed open pit mine and processing plant is expected to deliver 1200 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate over the expected 14-year lifespan of the project.

Toro Energy says following processing at its facility, the concentrate will be transported to Adelaide and Darwin for shipment to export markets yet to be determined.

The company says product will be trucked south on the Goldfields Highway, to Kalgoorlie, then east on the Eyre and Princess Highways for shipment from the Port of Adelaide.

"Some product may be railed from Adelaide to the Port of Darwin depending on the availability of shipping," the company says.

"Toro will continue to evaluate the potential to transfer product from road to rail should a proposed intermodal facility at Parkeston, five kilometres from Kalgoorlie, be developed."

The company is yet to contract providers for the project.

It adds while uranium is radioactive, potential hazards from its mining can be controlled through "well-established" design and management practices.

"Radiation exposures… as a result of the project, including from transport of product through the Northern Goldfields would be low and kept well within international limits," Toro’s
Environmental Review and Management program (ERMP)
states.

Strategies to achieve this outlines in the document include minimising the dust from operations, rehabilitation and best practice control systems for processing, packing and transport.

WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion
welcomed the federal government’s environmental approval of the Wiluna project.

"As former Environment Minister, I gave state environmental approval to the project five months ago - so I certainly welcome the Federal Government’s endorsement,"
Marmion says.

"Opening up uranium mining in Western Australia was a central plank of the State Government’s 2008 election commitments.

"This decision is hugely significant, as it paves the way for a new industry in this State," he adds.

Before construction works can begin, a range of further approvals are required, including assessment of a detailed Mining Proposal and Closure Plan by the Department of Mines and Petroleum.

Minister Marmion says the state government is committed to ensuring the uranium mining industry is safe and environmentally responsible.

"Western Australia has been mining, processing, transporting and exporting radioactive minerals, including mineral sands, for more than 40 years," he says.

"All WA uranium mines are required through strict legislation and regulation, to ensure the safety of employees and the broader community.

"Uranium mines in WA will also meet all the relevant international safeguards in relation to the safe and peaceful use of uranium resources, and obtain environmental approvals for mining and transport."

WA currently has known uranium oxides reserves of 211,000 tonnes across around 26 deposits.

Radiation safety legislation in the state has been in place since 1970s, to protect the public, workers and the environment.

First uranium sales for the Wiluna project are targeted for 2014.

Cash costs are estimated to be US$33 per lb U3O8 in the first ten years of the project, with total estimated capital cost approximately A$280 million.

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