Worst of a bad bunch: Environment groups appeal the Wiluna uranium mine proposal

Overnight state and national environmental groups lodged an appeal against the Wiluna uranium mine proposal being promoted by the junior mining company Toro Energy. The appeal was lodged on behalf of the Conservation Council of WA, the Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth Australia, and the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA.

“This proposal is a new low. On reviewing the detail of the EPA advice we have found that the EPA have recommended approval for the disposal of 2.1 million tonnes of radioactive mine waste (tailings) every year for 12 years in a floodplain. What makes this worse is that the EPA have done so with-out a final tailings management plan, a mine closure plan and a series of water management plans. All these assessments have been deferred to other Government agencies that are not independent and are not subject to public scrutiny” said Mia Pepper, CCWA Nuclear Free Campaigner.

“What we are seeing is a new type of assessment that has no regard for public engagement or transparency. We are seeing assessments that are done with a lack of evidence and huge reliance on promises from companies that have no proven track record. When it comes to managing radioactive mine waste on a lake bed promises just aren’t good enough. They haven’t been good enough at the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu, the Olympic Dam uranium mine in SA and they aren’t good enough by some two-bit company with big ambitions and little capacity in Wiluna.”

“This assessment has been pursued at a time when the uranium price is at an all-time low.  This project is not feasible as the company will freely admit, and it’s unlikely it will be feasible in the short to medium term. It is profoundly irresponsible that this company should pursue and receive an environmental assessment at this time with so many gaps in their environmental studies and with such a stark lack of evidence to support claims the mine will be safe.  The assessment of the Wiluna uranium mine proposal represents a huge environment risk, a risk to tax payers and the local community and risks to the shareholders. This company and this proposal set a new low for mining in WA, and will be actively contested.”

“Investors should be warned that there are still many hurdles before any approval could be granted and there are no guarantees about the future of uranium in WA.” Ms Pepper concluded.