Yeelirrie uranium project

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Yeelirrie uranium project
Yeelirrie uranium project is located in Australia
Yeelirrie uranium project
Yeelirrie uranium project
Location in Australia
Location Mid West
State Western Australia
Country Australia
Coordinates 27°16′S 120°05′E / 27.267°S 120.083°E / -27.267; 120.083Coordinates: 27°16′S 120°05′E / 27.267°S 120.083°E / -27.267; 120.083
Products Triuranium octoxide
Production 3,500 tonnes/annum
Opened 2014 (scheduled)
Company BHP Billiton
Website BHP Billiton website

The Yeelirrie uranium project is a proposed uranium mining project, located approximately 70 km south west of Wiluna, in the Mid West region of Western Australia.[1][2][3]

The name Yeelirrie is taken from a local sheep station and, in the local Aboriginal language, means "place of death".[4]

The project, was acquired by BHP Billiton in 2005 when they acquired WMC. There are two other proposals to mine uranium in the area at Lake Maitland uranium project, and Lake Way uranium project.[5][6]

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.[7] Cameco referred the Yeelirrie uranium proposal in December 2014 for assessment under the EPBC Act.

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.[8][9]

Yeelirrie project[edit]

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.[3][4]

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.[3][4] Site rehabilitation was completed in 2003.[10]

WMC was taken over by BHP Billiton in 2005 and Yeelirrie hereby became part of the latter, without seeing any activity at first.[11] BHP reactivated the project after the 2008 turn around in government policy.[3] 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.[10]

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.[12]

In August 2012, BHP sold the uranium deposit to Canadian mining company Cameco for a fee of around $430 million.[13]


  1. ^ Search Results - Yeelirrie Geoscience Australia website, accessed: 17 February 2011
  2. ^ Australia - Road and 4WD Atlas, HEMA maps, page: 85
  3. ^ a b c d Yeelirrie uranium deposit in Western Australia Parliament of Australia - Department of Parliamentary Services, published: 24 November 2009, accessed: 17 February 2011
  4. ^ a b c Yeelirrie, WA - WMC The Sustainable Energy & Anti-Uranium Service website, accessed: 17 February 2011
  5. ^ Great science debates of the next decade: Spotlight on uranium, published: 1 February 2010, accessed: 17 February 2011
  6. ^ Toro gets approval for uranium project The Sydney Morning Herald, published: 7 January 2010, accessed: 17 February 2011
  7. ^ "Cameco Acquires Yeelirrie Uranium Project in Western Australia". 
  8. ^ BHP under fire over uranium plans at AGM ABC Rural, published: 17 November 2011, accessed: 17 February 2011
  9. ^ BHP bosses grilled at AGM in Perth, published: 16 November 2010, accessed: 17 February 2011
  10. ^ a b Yeelirrie Project Overview BHP Billiton website, published: June 2009, accessed: 17 February 2011
  11. ^ MINEDEX website accessed: 17 February 2011
  12. ^ BHP cuts Yeelirrie uranium estimate The Australian, published: 9 February 2010, accessed: 17 February 2011
  13. ^ BHP sells Australia’s mammoth uranium deposit, International:, 2012, retrieved 11 October 2012 

External links[edit]