New WA uranium mine given environmental approval amid concerns

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Western Australia has given conditional approval to the proposed Kintyre uranium mine in the Little Sandy Desert.

Canadian-based mining company Cameco plans to truck uranium oxide from 270 kilometres north east of Newman to the Port of Adelaide. 

The EPA’s report is open for a two-week appeal period starting Monday, July 28, and closing on August 11.

The report notes that Cameco has addressed and number of needs for the mine, including:

  • ·     minimising the area of the development envelope and the proposed disturbance footprint; control of pit lakes

    ·     pre-clearing surveys for fauna conservation

    ·     use of as low as reasonably achievable radiation management practices

    ·     geochemical testing of waste rocks

    ·     flood protection bunds

    ·     120m buffer zones around the Yandagooge creek

    ·     a landform evolution model to design the integrated waste landform.

The Kintyre resource is estimated to contain 55 million of uranium at an average grade of 0.58 per cent.

The project is 70 per cent owned by Cameco Corporation, and 30 per cent owned by Mitsubishi Development (MDP Uranium).

Cameco accounts for around 15 per cent of world uranium supplies, mined in Canada, the US and Kazakhstan.

Environmental groups have voiced concerns about impacts on the nearby Karlamilyi National Park, with the Conservation Council expressing their disappointment with the EPA approval.

Conservation Council spokesperson Mia Pepper said most of the EPAs conditions were administrative, and that environmental protections have been deferred to the Department of Mines and Petroleum.

“In this case, that includes mine closure, rehabilitation and tailings management and those are the aspects where uranium mines have failed in Australia to deliver good environmental outcomes,” she said.

“That's something that we think the EPA should be looking at more closely.”

Pepper said the Conservation Council will make a submission regarding the EPAs report, and will support other organisations wishing to do the same.

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