Western Australia about to get its first uranium mine

Western Australia's first uranium mine seems closer than ever after the state's Environment Minister Albert Jacob greenlighted Toro Energy’s (ASX:TOE) Wiluna project, in the northern Goldfields.

The approval, said the company, consolidates into one the revised proposals to mine Centipede and Lake Way deposits, which were permitted by the previous WA government.

Under the terms of the permit, Toro Energy would need to begin mining such deposits within five years. However, uranium prices remain low, trading around $20 a pound. Last year, in fact, yellowcake became the worst performing commodity — it lost 41% of its value, touching a 12-year low of less than $18 a pound in November.

Western Australia about to get its first uranium mine

Courtesy of Toro Energy.

The market is not expected to pick up any time soon and its eagerly awaiting to see an anticipated increase in demand from China and India, as well as a decision on the future of Japan’s mothballed reactor fleet.

Toro now needs Federal approval, which normally follows the State decision. Its Wiluna project was the first uranium mine to win environmental approvals in Western Australia after the Liberal government overturned a ban on uranium mining in 2008. But Toro’s acquisition of the Lake Maitland deposit from Mega Uranium in mid-2013 meant the company had to go back to the drawing board in order to add the new asset to the mine plan.

While Australia does not use nuclear power itself, it is the world’s No. 3 uranium producer behind Kazakhstan and Canada.