Cameco handed court victory over WA uranium prospect

A uranium deposit in Western Australia under development by Cameco (TSX:CCO, NYSE:CCJ) will not be held up by conservationists who oppose it.

Last week the Conservation Council of WA lost an appeal against the Yeelirrie project's approval by the WA Supreme Court. In his judgment, Chief Justice Wayne Martin dismissed the CCWA's contention that environmental approval by the former WA Environment Minister, in the former Liberal government, was wrong at law, The West Australian reported.

According to the publication the minister's approval went against the Environmental Protection Agency and the WA Appeals Convenor, both of which said the mine shouldn't be allowed to proceed because it could lead to the extinction of underground fauna. The CCWA vows to continue to fight the project despite the setback.

The decision means that both Cameco's Yeelirrie and Kintyre development projects can proceed, along with Toro Energy’s Wiluna and Vimy Resources’ Mulga Rock projects.

Canada’s top uranium producer describes Yeelirrie as one of Australia's largest undeveloped uranium deposits. Located about 650 km northeast of Perth and approximately 750 km south of its Kintyre project, the proposed open-cast mine has an estimated 128.1 million pounds of uranium in measured and indicated resources. The site was originally discovered in 1972 and was sold to Cameco by BHP (NYSE:BHP) in 2012 for $430 million.

Cameco on Friday posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit, on the back of improved prices and its efforts to cut production to ease a current oversupply.

Uranium prices have fallen more than 70% since the Fukushima disaster in 2011, remaining low since then as a result of global glut of the commodity and excess inventory in the industry.

But Cameco’s announcement in November that it’s suspending operations at its flagship McArthur River mine in northern Saskatchewan for 10 months, and surprisingly deep three-year cuts by Kazakhstan’s state-owned Kazatomprom, have helped the market so far this year.