THE Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has given the green light for the development of Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium project in WA, recommending that the state Environment minister grant approval
for development of what would be WA’s first uranium mine.
Toro reported that, following the announcement of May 21, the EPA’s decision was subject to a two-week period of public appeal. Any appeals made during the period would be reviewed by Toro, prior to a final decision being made by the minister.
If state approval was received, the project would require further approval from the Federal Government. Toro stated that it was aiming to move through the approvals process and make its final investment decision for the project by the end of 2012.
“This is an important milestone for Toro and for the Western Australian uranium industry,” Toro managing Ddrector Greg Hall said.
“While the Toro team members have significant experience within other uranium and mining operations, Wiluna is Toro’s first project and the first uranium project to receive a positive EPA recommendation in
Western Australia since the change of government in 2008.
“Toro is confident that its extensive technical and environmental study work and the rigorous assessment undertaken by the EPA will ensure a safe and sustainable mining operation at Wiluna.”
The Wiluna project, comprising the Centipede and Lake Way deposits, is 520km north of Kalgoorlie.
Wholly-owned by Toro, it has a projected mine life of 14 years (including construction, operation and closure) and will be capable of producing up to 1200 tonnes per annum of uranium oxide concentrate.
The EPA’s decision has been a long time coming for Toro – the project was initially referred to the state and federal governments for assessment of October 2009. An Environmental Review and Management Program for the project was exhibited for public consultation during a 14-week period from July 2011. During that time, 48 submissions were made to the EPA and Toro provided comprehensive responses to all submissions to enable the EPA to finalise its assessment.
The Response to Submissions document remains available on the EPA website, along with the EPA report, as well as on Toro’s website.
Toro’s March quarterly report gave an overview of the current uranium market, stating that the short term price outlook was being driven by the progress being made by Japan in restarting its nuclear reactor fleet. The restart of reactors in 2012, in combination with an increased interest from European and US utilities in establishing long-term uranium supply contracts, is expected to lead to a potential tightness in uranium supply from 2013, creating an ideal launching pad for Wiluna to enter production.
“The Wiluna project is one of the few in the world potentially capable of commencing production in the critical 2014-2015 period when the nuclear industry will be seeking additional supplies,” Mr Hall said.
By Rachel Dally-Watkins