Yeelirrie uranium project
|Website||BHP Billiton website|
The project, undertaken by BHP Billiton, is one of the three most advanced uranium mining projects in Western Australia and is scheduled for production by 2014. The other two projects are the Lake Maitland uranium project, to begin production in 2012, and the Lake Way uranium project, to begin operations in 2013.
On August 26th, 2012 Cameco Corporation announced it had reached an agreement with BHP Billiton to purchase the mine for a sum of $430 Million. Cameco expects the deal to be complete by the end of 2012 pending approvals from the government of Western Australia and the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board.
The project has also come under criticism by local Aboriginal groups, who asked for guarantees that their land and animals would not be contaminated. The local Wongutha people consider Yeelirrie as a "place of death" and oppose the mine.
The deposit was first discovered in 1972 by WMC Resources. WMC reached an agreement with ESSO and the German Urangesellschaft Australia Pty Ltd in 1978 to co-finance the project, which was then scheduled for production by 1984.
Work on the mine was underway by 1980 and trial mines were carried out, but the rise of the Australian Labor Party to power and the party's "Three mine policy" put an end to the Yeelirrie project by 1983. Yeelirrie was placed in care and maintenance and once more used as a sheep station. Site rehabilitation was completed in 2003.
WMC was taken over by BHP Billiton in 2005 and Yeelirrie hereby became part of the latter, without seeing any activity at first. BHP reactivated the project after the 2008 turn around in government policy. The company plans to mine at Yeelirrie by 2014, producing approximately 80 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate per week. The mine is expected to have a life of 20–40 years. Ore would be treated on site and then transported by road to Kalgoorlie. From there, it would either be taken to South Australia or the Northern Territory by rail, as both have approval to store and export uranium.
BHP scaled back the size of the proposed mine in early 2010, from 5,000 tonnes per annum to 3,500. The reason for this was that the proposed acid heap leach was deemed too costly as it consumed too much acid.
- Search Results - Yeelirrie Geoscience Australia website, accessed: 17 February 2011
- Australia - Road and 4WD Atlas, HEMA maps, page: 85
- Yeelirrie uranium deposit in Western Australia Parliament of Australia - Department of Parliamentary Services, published: 24 November 2009, accessed: 17 February 2011
- Yeelirrie, WA - WMC The Sustainable Energy & Anti-Uranium Service website, accessed: 17 February 2011
- Great science debates of the next decade: Spotlight on uranium perthnow.com.au, published: 1 February 2010, accessed: 17 February 2011
- Toro gets approval for uranium project The Sydney Morning Herald, published: 7 January 2010, accessed: 17 February 2011
- "Cameco Acquires Yeelirrie Uranium Project in Western Australia".
- BHP under fire over uranium plans at AGM ABC Rural, published: 17 November 2011, accessed: 17 February 2011
- BHP bosses grilled at AGM in Perth perthnow.com.au, published: 16 November 2010, accessed: 17 February 2011
- Yeelirrie Project Overview BHP Billiton website, published: June 2009, accessed: 17 February 2011
- MINEDEX website accessed: 17 February 2011
- BHP cuts Yeelirrie uranium estimate The Australian, published: 9 February 2010, accessed: 17 February 2011
- BHP sells Australia’s mammoth uranium deposit, International: mining.com, 2012, retrieved 11 October 2012
- Names Search Results - Yeelirrie Geoscience Australia website
- MINEDEX website Database of the Department of Mines and Petroleum
- BHP Billiton website