Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium project site.
BY CAMERON DRUMMOND
THE WA Labor Government cannot legally stand in the way of uranium projects already approved by the former Government.
The four approved projects – Toro Energy’s Wiluna project, Cameco’s Kintyre and Yeelirrie projects, and Vimy Resources’ Mulga Rock project – would proceed as long as they meet their regulatory and environmental obligations.
On 20 June the McGowan Government announced an expected ban on future uranium mining leases in the State, following on from its election promise to block future applications to mine the commodity.
It said these actions were consistent with the ban that existed between 2002 and 2008 under the previous Labor administration.
“The Government will not prevent the four uranium projects that have received State Ministerial approvals from progressing, as it has clear legal advice it cannot legally deny secondary approvals for the purpose of frustrating approvals already granted,” the Government said in a statement.
“In making this decision, the McGowan Government has carefully considered the potential liability risk for WA taxpayers,” WA Mines and Petroleum minister Bill Johnston said.
“We made a commitment that all uranium mining projects with State Ministerial approvals will be able to continue, providing they meet all planning approvals.”
Minerals Council of Australia Uranium director Daniel Zavattiero welcomed the WA Government’s confirmation that the four approved projects would be allowed to proceed.
“This is consistent with the position of WA Labor for several years now, that approved projects will not be impeded,” Mr Zavattiero said.
“The uranium industry requires a stable and predictable policy environment to develop successfully.
“[However], it is disappointing to see the ban re-instated on newly granted mining leases as there are further potential uranium resources and projects that can follow the four that have been approved.”
“While market conditions for uranium remain subdued, the prospect of future demand for Australia’s significant uranium resources are strong as nations around the world look to build very low emission baseload power.
With improved market conditions, the approved projects can move into construction and operations wherein they will provide valuable jobs and revenue for communities and the State,” Mr Zavattiero said.