Plans to develop a uranium mine in Western Australia’s eastern Goldfields region have been given the green light by the state’s Environmental Protection Authority.
Vimy Resources Limited proposes transporting uranium oxide concentrate from its Mulga Rock project, about 240km northeast of Kalgoorlie, by road to Port Adelaide in sealed steel drums within a secure shipping container.
The EPA has recommended the project for approval and it is now up to state and federal environment ministers to decide if it will go ahead.
The EPA recommended 14 conditions, including Vimy Resources having environmental and Aboriginal heritage management plans in place.
It also concluded radiation exposure to mine workers and the public would be within acceptable limits.
Vimy chief executive Mike Young said he saw no reason why the state and federal environment ministers would not agree with the EPA’s assessment.
“This is a project which results in no significant residual impacts to the environment,” he said in a statement.
The Conservation Council of WA, however, said the project should not go ahead as the Mulga Rock area was a unique and pristine ecosystem.
Spokeswoman Mia Pepper said conservation groups would lodge an appeal against the recommendation.
Aboriginal elder Sandra Evans said her people, the Spinifex, and the Pilki people from the Great Victoria Desert weren’t consulted properly.
But Vimy Resources director Julian Tapp told AAP: “There’s been no native title claim over the area where we’re mining.”
Mr Tapp said a native title claim to the north of the project by the Wongatha people had been rejected in 2007.
With the borefield for the project falling within that land, however, the company had treated the Wongatha people as if they had been granted native title, he said.
“We have had the project surveyed by the Wongatha,” he said.
The public appeal period runs until August 29.
WA has no uranium mines, but the Liberal state government lifted a Labor-imposed ban on mining the commodity in 2008.
Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium project, 30km south of the town of the same name in central WA, was the first to receive federal government approval.
Earlier this month, the EPA rejected Cameco’s plan to mine uranium at its Yeelirrie project, 70km southeast of Wiluna, because the project posed unacceptable risks to subterranean fauna.
The Canadian company, which also owns the Kintyre uranium project about 80km south of Telfer, said it believed it could get the project back on track with further sampling and research, but is waiting for better prices for the commodity.