Uranium powerhouse Cameco (TSX:CCO) has been given the go ahead from the government of Western Australia for its proposed Yeelirrie uranium project.
No doubt, the government’s approval for the project is significant news for the uranium sector: acquired by Cameco from BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) in 2012, the Yeelirrie project has an estimated 127.3 million pounds of resources, and is considered one of the largest undeveloped uranium deposits in Australia.
In a statement released by the Western Australia Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), the project’s approval was granted under a number of environmental conditions.
Prior to beginning ground activities, Cameco is to submit a Subterranean Fauna Survey Plan that will improve understanding of fauna species and habitat.
Brian Reilly, Cameco Australia managing director, said in a press release that the decision bodes well for environmental management and economic benefits.
“We believe that with further sampling, investigation and research as outlined in the project conditions, subterranean fauna can be appropriately managed at Yeelirrie,” he told the publication. “The work at Yeelirrie will also contribute to a better scientific understanding of subterranean fauna more broadly across Western Australia.”
Albert Jacob, environment minister for Western Australia, said to WNN the project’s approval took into consideration of economic and social matters, but also environmental factors.
“Further surveys may identify that the species currently only found within the project area are more widespread,” he told WNN. “I have therefore mandated as part of this approval further survey work and investment in research.”
That said, the deal is a positive step for the uranium market in Australia as well. Colin Barnett, premier of Western Australia, said Australia has been exporting uranium for “peaceful purposes” for over 30 years, and that it’s about time Western Australia became a part of it.
According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), most recent figures show Australia is third in global production of uranium at 9 percent, with 5,654 tons produced in 2015.
“Australia’s international treaties guarantee that uranium can only be used for peaceful purposes,” Barnett said in Mining Weekly. “We should also remember that nuclear medicine is also an important part of our healthcare system.”
While news of the project is indeed significant, Camceo is to submit its construction and infrastructure plans for the mine to the government by June 20, 2018 to retain the title to the property.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.