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More than a decade after the former Barnett Liberal government lifted the state policy ban on uranium mining there are still no operating uranium mines in WA.

The McGowan Labor government reinstated a policy ban on new uranium projects but allowed four conditionally approved projects to continue – Kintyre (Cameco), Wiluna (Toro Energy), Yeelirrie (Cameco) and Mulga Rock (Vimy Resources). As part of the conditions these four projects were given a five year deadline to develop the mines.

All four were approved in politicised circumstances by the former Barnett government and all have been unable to proceed because of sustained community opposition and poor market conditions. These sites have undergone substantial exploration activities and trial mining and now present an environmental and economic liability to Western Australia.  

  • Cameco's Kintyre uranium project reached their 5 years deadline in March 2020 and are no longer able to develop Kintyre.
  • Vimy's Mulga Rock uranium project will reach their 5 year deadline 16 March 2021 - but are actively clearing land in a desperate, clumsy and destructive effort to prove "substantial commencement".
  • Cameco's Yeelirrie uranium project is set to expire on the on 16 January 2022 and they have not made any attempts to develop the mine.
  • Toro's Wiluna uranium project is set to expire on the 22 January 2022 and they have not made any attempts to develop the mine. 

The campaign is calling for; 

  • No extensions to environmental approvals be granted, and that once expired they be revoked
  • Rehabilitation of the current exploration projects and trial mining activities
  • WA Labor Government legislate a ban on uranium mining to address the unacceptable risks and provide policy certainty to industry and communities

Kintyre

Owner: Cameco

Location: East Pilbara, Karlamilyi National Park

Status: A State environmental approval was granted in March 2015. Cameco did not develop the mine within the required 5 years and the approval expired in March 2020. Cameco are unable to develop the mine. We understand that Cameco tried to extend the environmental approval but later withdrew that application. Mining cannot occur at Kintyre without an extension. 

File Archive Kintyre: 

  • Public Environment Review (PER) companies mine proposal here
  • Our Submission into the Public Environment Review here
  • EPA Report here
  • Company response to Submissions here
  • Our Appeal here
  • Appeal Convenors Report here
  • State Minister Response to Appeals here
  • State Minister Conditional Approval here
  • Federal Minister Conditional Approval here 

* A full list of PER documents and appendix for the Kintyre project are available on the EPA website here


Mulga Rock: 

Owner: Vimy Resources

Location: Goldfields, Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community

Status: Vimy are currently clearing land and refurbishing the airstrip and mine camp from the earlier exploration. A State environmental approval was granted in December 2016. If Vimy cannot “demonstrate substantial commencement” of the mine by the 16th of December 2021 their environmental approval will expire. Current activity at the Mulga Rock site does not constitute as substantial because it is focused on refurbishment not development. Vimy still require a number of other approvals to develop the mine including a Sandhill Dunnart Conservation Plan. The company have not got the capital to develop the mine, nor have they made a final investment decision at the board level. Most importantly they company have not even entered into formal negotiations with the Upurli Upurli Nguratja Native Title claimant group who have a registered Native Title claim over the area. 

File Archive Mulga Rock:

  • The Australian Institute Report Nov 2020 here. 
  • Our EPA Referral for Re-assessing new project here
  • Public Environment Review (PER) companies mine proposal  here
  • Our submission to the PER here
  • EPA Report - recommended approval here
  • Read the Companies response to submissions here
  • Our Appeal here
  • Appeals Convenors report here
  • State Environment Ministers response to appeals here
  • State Environment Ministers approval here
  • Federal Environment Ministers approval here

 * A full list of PER documents and appendix for the Mulga Rock project are available through the EPA website here


Wiluna

Owner: Toro Energy

Location: Northern Goldfields, Lake Way and Lake Maitland

Status: A State environmental approval was granted in January 2017. The company have not developed the mine, they have turned their attention to exploration for gold. If they are unable to “demonstrate substantial commencement” by January 2022 their environmental approval will expire and they will not be able to develop the mine without seeking an extension. In July 2021 the company CEO stated “No one in Australia can get finance to build a uranium mine.” 

File Archive Original Wiluna Proposal: 

  • Public Environment Review (PER) companies mine proposal  here and here
  • Our Submission into the Public Environment Review here
  • Company response to Submissions here
  • EPA Recommendation to approve here
  • Our Appeal here
  • Appeal Convenors Report here
  • State Minister Conditional Approval here
  • State Minister Response to Appeals here
  • Federal Minister Conditional Approval here
  • Federal Minister Reasons for decision here

*A full list of PER documents and appendix for the Wiluna project are available through the EPA website here. 

File Archive Wiluna Extension Proposal: 

  • Public Environment Review (PER) companies mine proposal here
  • Our Submission into the Public Environment Review here
  • Toro Energy response to submissions here
  • WA EPA Recommendation to approve here
  • Our Appeal here
  • Appeals Report here
  • Ministers response to appeals here
  • State Minister Conditional Approval here
  • Federal Minister Conditional Approval here

*A full list of PER documents and appendix for the Wiluna Extension are available through the EPA website here. 


Yeelirrie

Owner: Cameco

Location: East Murchison, south of the Montague Ranges

Status: A State environmental approval was granted in January 2017. The company have not developed the mine, they have turned their attention to exploration for gold. If they are unable to “demonstrate substantial commencement” by January 2022 their environmental approval will expire and they will not be able to develop the mine without seeking an extension. The approval of the Yeelirrie uranium mine was made despite the WA EPA advising that the project should not be approved because it would most likely cause the extinction of multiple species. CCWA and three Tjiwarl women took the issue to court, the case was dismissed at the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Appeals but identified a significant weakness in WAs environmental laws – that a Minister has the power to approve extinction. 

File Archive Yeelirrie: 

  • Supreme Court Action here 
  • Public Environment Review (PER) companies mine proposal  here
  • PER Joint submission/ analysis of the mine proposal here
  • The EPA recommendation to reject the mine proposal here
  • Our Appeal here
  • The Office of the Appeals Convenor Report here
  • The Ministers response to Appeals here
  • The State Minister Approval here
  • The Federal Minister Approval here
  • Statement of Reasons for Federal Approval here
  • Freedom of Information Investigation on approvals here

*The Full list of PER documents and appendix are available through the EPA website here. 

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