Vimy Resources has started work on its Mulga Rock uranium project in Western Australia. The company says initial construction activity associated with infrastructure facilities and mining will speed up development of the project once a final investment decision is made.
Australia's minister for the environment and energy, Josh Frydenberg, on 6 March approved the development of the Mulga Rock project "subject to specified conditions”.
The project was assessed under a bilateral agreement whereby the federal environment minister relies on the environmental impact assessment processes carried out at the state level. In August 2016, Western Australia's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommended the project for approval by the state's environment minister after an environmental impact assessment process which included a 12-week public review period. Vimy's plans to mine up to 1360t U3O8 (1153tU) a year at the project, 240km east-northeast of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia's Great Victoria Desert.
The EPA recommended 14 conditions for the project's approval, including preparation of environmental management plans to minimise impacts on the conservation of significant flora, vegetation and terrestrial fauna. Vimy will also be required to prepare plans to ensure impacts on Aboriginal heritage sites are minimised and to monitor and manage the quality of soil and groundwater. The EPA also recommended conditions on aspects related to the eventual rehabilitation and decommissioning of the mine. It concluded that radiation exposure to mine-site workers and the public would be within acceptable limits for human health.
Vimy describes Mulga Rock as the third largest undeveloped uranium deposit in Australia. The project has a total of 76.8 million pounds (29,540 tU) of indicated and inferred uranium resources in four deposits, which Vimy intends to mine by shallow open-pit methods, with a central processing plant. Cobalt, copper, nickel and zinc metal concentrates will be extracted after the uranium has been removed, and sold separately. The project has an expected mine life of up to 17 years.