Cameco’s Yeelirrie uranium project in the Goldfields region has been granted environmental approval by the Western Australian Government and is subject to 17 strict conditions. The project will consist of an open-cut mine, a metallurgical plant as well as associated facilities and infrastructure which will produce export-grade uranium concentrates.
The project’s approval was the result of a rigorous environmental assessment process, significant public consultation as well as an agreement between Environment Minister Albert Jacob and the Ministers for Water, Mines and Petroleum, Aboriginal Affairs and State Development.
According to Premier Colin Barnett, the State holds significant amount of uranium reserves and the deposit at Yeelirrie is particularly large by world standards.
“Australia has been producing and exporting uranium for peaceful purposes for more than 30 years and it is high time that Western Australia with our significant reserves, became part of that industry.
“Australia’s international treaties guarantee that uranium can only be used for peaceful purposes. We should also remember that nuclear medicine is also an important part of our health care system,” Mr Barnett said.
State Development Minister Bill Marmion said that uranium has been an important industry for the State. Mr Marmion also said that the Yeelirrie project has the potential to bring in significant benefits to Western Australia once operations proceed.
Project location map (source: Cameco Australia)
“The Liberal National Government supports a well-regulated uranium industry for the jobs and economic growth potential it provides and for the clean energy production it supports,” Mr Marmion said.
WA Environmental Minister Albert Jacob said that the State Government put into consideration a broader economic as well as social matters and environmental factors when they decided to grant approval to the project. Various conditions were applied to Cameco’s proposal, requiring the company to undertake further research and surveys in order to improve knowledge of underground fauna and measures which will minimise impacts on stygofauna and troglofauna species – small underground creatures, mostly crustaceans.
“Further surveys may identify that the species currently only found within the project area are more widespread. I have therefore mandated as part of this approval further survey work and investment in research,” Mr Jacob said.
Cameco’s Yeelirrie uranium mine in the Goldfields region is the fourth project to be approved in WA. The other three projects are Vimy Resources’ Mulga Rocks in Kalgoorlie, Toro Energy’s Wiluna development south of the town of Wiluna and Cameco’s Kintyre project in the East Pilbara. Once these approved uranium projects proceed, they will generate up to 1,500 jobs as well as a potential $1 billion annual export industry for WA.
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