BHP Billiton to develop the $17 billion Yeelirrie uranium deposit

The world's second largest mining company after Vale of Brazil, BHP Billiton is planning to develop the $17 billion Yeelirrie uranium deposit after the state of Western Australia lifted a long-standing ban on production of the mineral.

Although developing the mine requires the board's approval, the miner has already submitted documents to the federal environment department since it plans to start operations by 2014.

"Current plans project construction commencing in 2011, with initial production from the mine in 2014, subject to government and BHP Billiton board approvals," BHP said in a statement.

The Yeelirrie uranium ore deposit in Western Australia is the world's largest calcrete associated uranium deposit estimated to hold some 35 million tonnes of ore containing in excess of 50,000 tonnes of U308 grade uranium.

BHP Billiton said it plans to produce an average of 5,000 tonnes of uranium a year from the deposit for more than 30 years and is estimated to reap approximately $13 billion in revenue to the miner at current prices for uranium.

BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam mine is currently the world's biggest uranium mine and the company had said that it is seeking approval from the government for expansion.