Australia grants environmental permit to first uranium mine in the country’s west

Australia’s federal government has approved Toro Energy’s (ASX:TOE) $280 million uranium mine in the country’s resource-rich west, with 36 conditions to guard against negative impacts from radiation and other factors.

Toro Energy said Tuesday its flagship project, located south of Wiluna, is expected to become Australia’s sixth uranium producer and the first in Western Australia, a key exporter of iron ore and gas.

“Wiluna is the first new Australian uranium mine since mid 2009 to receive Federal and State government approval,” Toro’s Managing Director, Vanessa Guthrie, said Tuesday in a statement.

Environment Minister Tony Burke told AFP he was satisfied it could proceed without unacceptable impacts on the environment, both during mining operations and beyond the 14-year life of the mine.

“The 36 strict conditions I have put in place will guard against any negative impacts from radiation or to groundwater and surface water, and include precautions to ensure that once the mine is closed, the site is safe for humans and animals, and is non-polluting,” he said.

First uranium sales from the mine are expected in 2014.

Despite Australia does not use nuclear power, it is the world’s No. 3 uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and Canada, exporting 6,888 tonnes of oxide concentrate in 2010, worth over $630 million.

Image: Toro Energy managing director Greg Hall.