New uranium mine in WA up for environmental review

A new uranium mine near Wiluna in WA would create 225 jobs, according to Canadian miner Cameco.

The Australian arm of Cameco released their Public Environmental Review (PER) yesterday, claiming there would be a focus on local employment if the Yeelirrie uranium mine is allowed to go ahead.

Development of the West Australian mine, 70km south of Wiluna, would also create 1200 construction jobs for the build of processing plant and associated infrastructure.

The resulting open cut mine would measure 9km long by 1.5 km wide, although excavation would only go to 10m deep.

The uranium ore is contained in calcrete which occurs below the water table, meaning the first eight mining blocks (of 15) will require dewatering a year ahead of the mining face.

Cameco bought Yeelirrie from BHP in 2012 for an investment of $US452 million (at average exchange $AUD436 million), and has since been reviewing over 10,000 historical and recent drill holes by BHP and the former project owner Western Mining Corporation, which made the discovery in 1972.

With an expected mine life of 22 years, mining will have to start two years before milling can commence.

Plans for rehabilitation include progressive backfilling of the pit, with tailings to be stored in two ponds throughout the life of the mine, so that no open void remains at the time of site closure.

Mining of the ore will occur for 16 years, while the final four years of mine life have been set aside for decommissioning and rehabilitation.

Public consultation for the PER will be open until December 2015.

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