03/08/2016 - 12:28

EPA rejects Yeelirrie uranium mine

03/08/2016 - 12:28

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The environmental watchdog has recommended rejection of a new uranium mine in the Goldfields after the proposal failed to meet one of nine strict factors.

The EPA has knocked back Cameco Australia's proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine in the Goldfields.

The environmental watchdog has recommended rejection of a new uranium mine in the Goldfields after the proposal failed to meet one of nine strict factors.

The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended Environment Minister Albert Jacob not implement Cameco Australia’s proposed Yeelirrie uranium project.

The proposal involved mining up to 7,500 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate per annum from two open pits at the Yeelirrie deposit, and also included construction of processing facilities, roads, accommodation, stockpile and laydown areas.

The project also proposed transporting the concentrate by road for export through the Port of Adelaide.

EPA chairman Tom Hatton said the project failed to meet one of nine key environmental factors examined by the independent board.

“Of the nine factors assesses, one – subterranean fauna – was unable to meet the EPA’s environmental objectives,” Dr Hatton said.

He said the proposal would threaten the viability of some species of animals that live below ground, particularly stygofauna.

“The stygofauna habitat at Yeelirrie is particularly rich, with 73 species recorded, more than anywhere else in the northern Goldfields,” Dr Hatton said.

“Despite the proponent’s well-considered management strategies, based on current scientific understanding, the EPA concluded that there was too great a chance of loss of species that are restricted to the impact area.

“The other eight factors met the EPA’s objectives.

“The EPA also concluded radiation exposure from the mine site to workers and the public would be within acceptable limits for human health.”

Cameco Australia managing director Brian Reilly said the company respected the findings of the EPA and acknowledged the complexity and uncertainty involved with assessing subterranean fauna.

“Sampling and impact management for subterranean fauna at Yeelirrie is very complex and this is reflected in the EPA’s findings,” he said.

“We believe that with further sampling and research, subterranean fauna can be appropriately managed at Yeelirrie and we will work with government agencies and stakeholders to find a way forward.”

Canada-based Cameco bought the Yeelirrie deposit from BHP Billiton in 2012 for $US452 million.

 

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