Final approval for Mulga Rock uranium project

06 March 2017

Australia's minister for the environment and energy has approved Vimy Resources' development of the Mulga Rock uranium project. It is the final approval required for work to start on the project in Western Australia.

Mulga Rock project - 460 (Vimy)
Mulga Rock (Image: Vimy)

Perth-based Vimy announced today the federal minister, Josh Frydenberg, had approved the development of Mulga Rock "subject to specified conditions". It said early works on the project can now start.

The evaluation process for Mulga Rock began in July 2013 when Vimy lodged an application for the project. It has been assessed under a bilateral agreement under which the federal environment minister relies on the environmental impact assessment processes carried out at the state level.

Last August, Western Australia's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommended the project for approval by the state's environment minister. Its endorsement of Vimy's plans to mine up to 1360 t U3O8 (1153 tU) per year at the project, 240 km east-northeast of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia's Great Victoria Desert, followed an environmental impact assessment process which included a 12-week public review period.

The EPA recommended 14 conditions for the project's approval, including preparation of environmental management plans to minimise impacts on the conservation of significant flora, vegetation and terrestrial fauna. Vimy will also be required to prepare plans to ensure impacts on Aboriginal heritage sites are minimised and to monitor and manage the quality of soil and groundwater. The EPA also recommended conditions on aspects related to the eventual rehabilitation and decommissioning of the mine. It concluded that radiation exposure to mine-site workers and the public would be within acceptable limits for human health.

Western Australian minister for environment Albert Jacob approved implementation of the project in December, subject to conditions.

Vimy chairman Cheryl Edwardes said, "This is the final environmental approval required before work can commence. This approval has been more than three years in the making and has involved considerable effort on the part of all those involved."

Vimy describes Mulga Rock as the third largest undeveloped uranium deposit in Australia. The project has a total of 76.8 million pounds (29,540 tU) of indicated and inferred uranium resources in four deposits, which Vimy intends to mine by shallow open-pit methods, with a central processing plant. Cobalt, copper, nickel and zinc metal concentrates will be extracted after the uranium has been removed, and sold separately. The project has an expected mine life of up to 17 years.

The Mulga Rock project will create around 490 new jobs in Western Australia and annual payments of some AUD19.0 million (USD14.4 million) to the state government in the form of royalty payments and payroll tax, Vimy says.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News