Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia has officially started the approvals process for its proposed Ranger 3 Deeps underground mine as part of a wider $177 million investment.
The Rio Tinto subsidiary today said it had lodged a referral with the federal environment department and a notice of intent with the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority.
ERA has already started construction of a $120 million exploration decline that will allow further exploration of the Ranger 3 Deeps resources, with closed spaced drilling expected to start next quarter.
ERA has allocated $57 million towards a prefeasibility study into the potential development of an underground mine.
The discovery of the Ranger 3 Deeps resources was unveiled by ERA in 2009.
Last week, ERA reported a 1 per cent drop in annual uranium production at its Ranger operation for 2012, producing 3710 tonnes.