08/07/2009 - 12:46

Calls for inquiry into BHP uranium plans

08/07/2009 - 12:46

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An anti-uranium alliance has stepped up calls for a public inquiry into BHP Billiton's "secretive" Western Australian uranium mine, Yeelirrie.

Calls for inquiry into BHP uranium plans

An anti-uranium alliance has stepped up calls for a public inquiry into BHP Billiton's "secretive" Western Australian uranium mine, Yeelirrie.

The call comes as members from a consortium of environmental groups, including Conservation Council of WA, staged a protest at BHP's head office in Melbourne.

A key demand of the protest was for BHP to outline plans on its proposed Yeelirrie operation, which could be the state's first uranium mine with production starting as early as 2014.

Conservation Council of WA's Natalie Lowrey said there has not been a detailed public inquiry - which has the same powers as a royal commission - into the uranium sector for over 30 years.

"We want the WA Environment Minister to commission a public inquiry into plans for uranium mining in WA ahead of any project specific assessment and approval," she said.

"There are serious and wide-ranging impacts of this proposal. If an idea is a good one then it should have no fear of scrutiny."

Other movements in the state's uranium industry include Canada's Mega Uranium which sold a 35 per cent interest in its Lake Maitland project to two Japanese companies for $US49 million.

Yesterday Cameco struck its third joint venture deal with Uranium Equities over uranium tenements located close to the Kintyre uranium deposit, which Cameco and Mitsubishi bought off Rio for $US495 million last year.

Another potential near-term uranium development is Toro Energy's Lake Way-Centipede project.

Comment was being sought from BHP at time of publishing.

The Conservation Council of WA has already submitted its concerns regarding Yeelirrie to BHP and the Environmental Protection Authority.

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