The Yeelirrie project is touted as one of the largest uranium deposits in Australia.
By Cameron Drummond
ENVIRONMENTAL approvals have been granted by the WA government for Cameco’s Yeelirrie uranium project in the Northern Goldfields region, after they were knocked back by the State’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The government said the approvals were granted subject to 17 “strict conditions”, following a separate environmental assessment process, and agreements between Environment minister Steve Jacobs and ministers from the Department of Water, Mines and Petroleum, Aboriginal Affairs and State Development.
Premier Colin Barnett said WA had significant uranium reserves and the Yeelirrie deposit was 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 WA, with our significant reserves, became part of that industry,” Mr Barnett said.
“Australia’s international treaties guarantee that uranium can only be used for peaceful purposes [and] we should also remember that nuclear medicine is also an important part of our health care system.”
In its report on the project, the EPA advised the proposal was only acceptable for eight of nine key environmental factors, recommending against approval because there was potential for the loss of two small crustacean species within the project area.
Mr Jacob said in deciding to grant approval, the government had considered broader economic and social matters, as well as environmental factors.
“Further surveys may identify that the species currently only found within the project area are more widespread,” he said.
“I have therefore mandated as part of this approval further survey work and investment in research.”
The environmental approval follows on from the recent approvals for two other WA uranium projects, Mulga Rock and Wiluna.