Government of Western Australia Official Site


Uranium mine closer to reality

Bill Marmion

Bill Marmion
Minister for Environment; Water

Western Australia’s first uranium mine is two steps away from being a reality after final state environmental approval was granted to Toro Energy’s Wiluna project in the Mid West region. State Environment Minister Bill Marmion gave his approval to the proposal this month after WA’s Environmental Protection Authority advised him to do so in May. The project can go ahead if Mr Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke agrees, and the Toro Energy’s board makes a final decision to proceed.

The company has targeted the end of this calendar year for its decision. The company and Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia welcomed Mr Marmion’s approval, which is subject to strict conditions. If the project goes ahead, Toro will process 1.3 million tonnes per year of ore to produce about 820 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate.

“If this project does go ahead, the environment will be adequately monitored and protected,” Mr Marmion said. “The new conditions will strengthen protection of stygofauna and groundwater-dependent vegetation, and better address surface water flows, dust management and rehabilitation.”

Currently, WA has no operating uranium mines. In 2008, the Liberal state government lifted a six-year ban on uranium mining that was imposed by the previous Labor government. The opposition still opposes uranium mining but says it will not stand in the way of any planned mine that has received approvals if the party wins the state election in March.

There are no other uranium projects in WA that would be fully environmentally approved by the time of the election. The project is seen as an important step in diversifying the export base of WA’s resources sector.