22/05/2009 - 13:20

Green groups challenge BHP uranium mine

22/05/2009 - 13:20

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BHP Billiton has taken further steps to develop its Yeelirrie uranium deposit near Wiluna, immediately attracting criticism from environment groups but winning support from the pro-uranium state government.

Green groups challenge BHP uranium mine

BHP Billiton has taken further steps to develop its Yeelirrie uranium deposit near Wiluna, immediately attracting criticism from environment groups but winning support from the pro-uranium state government.

The miner confirmed today it has submitted documents to state and federal environment departments.

BHP said it referred the project to WA's Environmental Protection Authority and the federal Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

The company said current project scheduling will see construction start in 2011 and first production from the mine in 2014.

The Yeelirrie development follows the state government's move last year to drop its ban on uranium mining.

The deposit is one of the country's largest uranium resources, supporting a mine life of between 20 to 40 years.

The Conservation Council of WA, the Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation say the miner will have a hard time convincing Western Australians about the development.

"BHP's Yeelirrie proposal will be actively challenged and the company will discover a fundamental reality about uranium politics in Australia: it is a long and difficult journey from a bad idea to a dirty mine," Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen said.

"Whether it is mining uranium in WA, or taking dangerous radioactive waste back from other countries, we know the WA community remain strongly opposed to any involvement in the nuclear industry in WA.

"A broad coalition of conservation groups and other organisations will continue to defend our state's nuclear free status."

BHP said a prefeasibility study on Yeelirrie is underway.

Other WA uranium projects to progress following the ban lift include Mega Uranium's Lake Maitland deposit and Toro Energy's Lake Way-Centipede project.

Shares in BHP were down $1 to $33.40 at 14:54 AEST.

 

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