New proposal for Yeelirrie

28 November 2014

Cameco is planning to double the production rate of its proposed Yeelirrie uranium project in Western Australia, and has referred its proposal for regulatory approval.

Yeelirrie (Image: Cameco)

An environmental scoping study for the shallow Yeelirrie deposit submitted by former owner BHP Billiton received approval from the Western Australia Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2010. Cameco purchased Yeelirrie from BHP Billiton in 2012, and now says it wants to advance project approvals.

BHP Billiton's proposal had foreseen an ore processing production rate of 1.2 million tonnes per year, with a mine life of approximately 30 years. In its letter to the EPA, Cameco said that it does not consider such a production rate to be either efficient or economical, and is proposing to increase the rate to 2.4 million tonnes per year. This would give an estimated mine life of approximately 17 years.

Cameco says in its submission that the proposed change would also result in higher water demand, an increase in ore production and also increased rates of transport, taking the proposal beyond the limits of the key characteristics of the earlier proposal. Furthermore, Cameco notes that it feels that it would be beneficial for its plans to be assessed under environmental legislation which was enacted in 2012 – after the assessment of the BHP Billiton proposal.

The company has therefore requested that the EPA terminates the existing assessment and has lodged a new referral for the project, which would comprise an open-pit mine, processing plant and supporting infrastructure.

"Cameco continues to advance the Yeelirrie project at a pace aligned with market conditions. We have reviewed the extensive records provided by the previous owners and conducted a number of studies to determine the key technical, environmental and economic issues related to the project. We are advancing the environmental review for Yeelirrie now so that we are positioned to respond quickly when the market signals a need for more uranium," the company told World Nuclear News.

Yeelirrie has 127.3 million pounds U3O8 (49,000 tU) of measured and indicated uranium resources, with an average grade of 0.16% U3O8.

The new referral is open for a seven-day public comment period, expiring on 30 November.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News