Uranium developer Toro Energy Limited (Toro) is well on its way to becoming Western Australia’s first uranium producer after receiving Federal environmental approval for the company’s wholly-owned and advanced Wiluna uranium project.
The approvals decision was announced by the Federal Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Tony Burke. It was the last major environment-based regulatory approval required to clear the way for the proposed $269 million Wiluna uranium mine to become Australia’s sixth uranium producer and the first in Western Australia.
Toro’s managing director Dr Vanessa Guthrie said Wiluna is the first new Australian uranium mine since mid-2009 to receive Federal and State government approval.
“Completion of the environmental approvals delivers Toro the regulatory certainty needed to fully underpin our negotiating capacity and to now advance commercial financing arrangements and product off-take agreements with potential partners,” Dr Guthrie said.
“It also provides a clear pathway to complete detailed engineering design, infrastructure and cost estimates for Wiluna.”
The approval follows a similar Western Australian Government environmental approval for Wiluna given in October 2012 and completes the WA and Federal Government environmental assessment processes that have lasted almost three-and-a-half-years.
Dr Guthrie reconfirmed Toro’s ongoing engagement with potential project finance partners in a negotiating environment she described as “very encouraging”.
“Wiluna is one of the few projects in the world capable of bringing new uranium production to the market in the medium term, when a shortfall is predicted from 2015 onwards,” Dr Guthrie said.
The mine comprises two deposits (Lake Way and Centipede) processing
1.3 million tonnes per annum to produce approximately 780 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate based on up to 14-years of mine life.
Toro is confident the mine will deliver important benefits to the local and regional communities in particular, including training, employment and business development.
“The company continues to negotiate a mining agreement with traditional owners through which Toro proposes to provide financial support for a range of Aboriginal community benefits,” Dr Guthrie said. Subject to successful finalisation of financing and marketing arrangements and design and cost work, Toro anticipates first production from the Wiluna mine by the end of 2015.