Uranium mine green lit in WA

(1 Vote)

Western Australia will have its first uranium mine operating within two years with Toro Energy to open a site at Wiluna at a cost of $269 million.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke gave final approval for the project to go ahead at the beginning of this month, after it had already received approval from the WA State Government some time ago..

However, Mr Burke’s approval came with 36 different conditions, including measures to ensure local groundwater is safe from radiation, and that the area is safe for use by humans and animals once the mine closes.

According to The Canberra Times, to meet these conditions, Toro will have to pay a bond to cover the costs of rehabilitating the mine following its eventual closure. It will also have to submit an “environmental management plan” outlining how it will monitor radiation and other factors as a result of activities carried out at the mine site.

According to information on Toro’s website, the project is based upon the mining of the Centipede and Lake-Way deposits. Once operational, the mine will produce 1200 tonnes of UOC per annum for a minimum of 14 years.

Toro Managing Director Vanessa Guthrie told the ABC the company was in discussion with overseas investment partners to fund the development of the mine, which they are hoping to begin production at in 2015.

"It's been a three-and-a-half year process of environmental assessment that has now paved the way for us to move into project financing, and really has been the last regulatory hurdle for us to overcome," she said.

"We have been in discussions for 18 months with a number of interested parties from overseas, mainly in Asia.

"There will be 170 jobs in operation, and 350 jobs expected during the construction period."

Dr Guthrie said the company’s project had gone through a thorough assessment process in regards to its environmental impact. She said the community can be assured the mine would be managed “at the strictest and highest standards.”

"The conditions issued are appropriate and we are confident we can meet them," she said.

"It gives the community confidence that the mine can be operated safely and in an environmentally appropriate manner."

However, Minister Burke’s approval led to condemnation from environmental campaigners, including Greens spokesperson for nuclear issues Senator Scott Ludham – who told the ABC the decision “proves once and for all that the ALP cannot be trusted on the environment.”

"I take no comfort from these approvals at all," he said.

"On an issue as serious as this, that Minister Burke thinks you can lock up tens of millions of tons of carcinogenic radioactive waste in the environment on a lake bed that floods effectively for thousands of years, absolutely beggars belief.

"So we will step the campaign up, and for me this is the beginning, rather than the end."




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