Toro Energy's uranium mine gets Australian government approval

Toro Energy, a uranium-focused Australian miner has obtained the federal government's environmental approval for its flagship uranium project in central Western Australia.

The $280-million uranium mine, located about 30km south of Wiluna  in the mid west region of Western Australia, will become Australia's sixth uranium mine, and is the first new uranium mine to receive federal and state government approvals in about four years.

Further to the federal approval, a final project investment decision will be now be made by the board of Toro Energy.

The federal approval follows a similar Western Australian government approval earlier in October, and completes a three-and-a-half years of rigorous environmental assessment involving community and government agencies.

Toro's managing director Vanessa Guthrie said, ''Completion of the environmental approvals delivers Toro the regulatory certainty needed to fully underpin our negotiating capacity and to now advance commercial financing arrangements and product off-take agreements with potential partners.''

''It also provides a clear pathway to complete detailed engineering design, infrastructure and cost estimates for Wiluna,'' she added. 

The company expects to commence production from the Wiluna mine by the end of 2015. 

Toro said that its negotiations with potential project finance partners are ''very encouraging.'' 

''Wiluna is one of the few projects in the world capable of bringing new uranium production to the market in the medium term, when a shortfall is predicted from 2015 onwards,'' Guthrie said. 

The Wiluna mine consists of two deposits: Lake Way and Centipede with a resource base of approximately 25,000 tonnes. The mine has a processing capacity of 1.3 million tonnes per annum of ore to produce approximately 780 tonnes of uranium oxide for up to 14 years of mine life.

The powder product will be transported to Adelaide port, for shipping out along with other uranium products from existing uranium mines, such as BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam.

''We are confident the mine will deliver important benefits to the local and regional communities in particular, including training, employment and business development, the company said.

Australia's known uranium resources are the world's largest representing about 31 per cent of the world total of 5.3 million tonnes. The country is the world's third-largest uranium producer after Kazakhstan and Canada, although it does not have any nuclear plants.

In 2012 Australia produced 8,244 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate, according to data from the world nuclear association.

Major customers for Australian uranium include the US, the EU, Japan, China, South Korea, Canada and Taiwan.