New uranium mine approved
In significant news for the energy sector and electricity suppliers, a new uranium mine has been approved for construction.
Announced by the newly appointed minister for resources and energy Gary Gray, Mr Gray has assured that the project has undergone rigorous environmental assessment beginning in October 2009.
The project is worth $269 million and is based in Wiluna, Western Australia.
The mine's approval is subject to 36 conditions imposed by minister for the environment Tony Burke, that limit the mine's environmental impact both while the mine is operating, and after it has been shut down.
"The proposed mine will be the most advanced of the new generation of uranium mines in the world and will provide a variety of social and economic benefits both to local communities and Australia more broadly," Mr Gray said.
"With a lifespan of 14 years, the mine is expected to process 1.3 million tonnes of ore annually and produce around 780 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate."
The mine will be operated by Toro Energy Limited, which plans to mine the area's shallow calcrete deposits. The company anticipates sales to begin in early 2014, with a project life of over 14 years.
The 36 strict regulations the enterprise must operate under include guarding against negative impacts from radiation, groundwater and surface water, as well as precautions to make sure that once the mine's life span is up, the area will remain safe for humans and animals.
The company is required to come up with an environmental management plan on how it will meet these conditions and what action will be taken if conservative thresholds are reached or exceeded.
Mr Burke said while considering the proposal he received advice from Geoscience Australia, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency as well as the Supervising Scientist, whose advice ensures the project is up to the world's best practice environmental standards.
The Toro Energy website notes that Australian uranium miners have demonstrated very responsible practice when it comes to the environment, through successfully rehabilitating decommissioned uranium mines in the past. The company uses the Mary Kathleen mine in Queensland as an example - a mine that has been fully rehabilitated and has been reverted to grazing purposes.
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Posted by Charlie Moore