Western Australian Environment Minister Bill Marmion has granted approval for Toro Energy to proceed with the State’s first uranium mine to be developed, four years after the Liberal government lifted a ban imposed by Labor. The project is based at the Centipede and Lake Way deposits near Wiluna in the State’s Mid-West, processing approximately 820 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate per year. The capital cost expected to be about $280 million.
In May, the Environmental Protection Authority recommended the Minister approve the project, subject to strict conditions. Mr Marmion said the environment will be sufficiently monitored in the event that the project obtains Commonwealth approval, with stringent dust management and rehabilitation measures in place to protect stygofauna and groundwater-dependent vegetation.
Environmental groups have criticised the decision, claiming that the uranium industry is fading and the announcement was only made to fast track the Barnett Government’s political agenda.
The Commonwealth is expected to make its decision by the end of 2012. The company hopes to have the mine operating by 2014, with the first uranium sales in 2014-2015.
The decision will likely assist other similar uranium mine projects being developed in W.A.
Herbert Smith Freehills assists the development of many of Western Australia’s significant mining projects and will continue to monitor the development of the uranium industry in WA.