Wednesday, 28 November 2012 14:17
Miner Toro Energy has defended the environmental credentials of a development planned to become Western Australia's first uranium mine.
Anti-nuclear and environment groups protested outside the company's annual meeting in Adelaide on Wednesday, opposing the Wiluna project, north of Kalgoorlie, and Toro's plans to ship uranium oxide through Port Adelaide and Darwin.
But Toro chairwoman Erika Smyth said the project had been through a very rigorous three-year environmental assessment which included four opportunities for the public to make comment.
"As the first uranium project proponent to reach this stage since the Western Australian government's policy change in late 2008, Toro has received more scrutiny than many much larger projects," Dr Smyth said in her address to shareholders.
"We have been treated no differently from a major resource company in the extent to which our proposals have been assessed by government."
The WA government approved the Wiluna mine in October, and the project is now waiting on federal government approval.
However, the Conservation Council of Western Australia said the Toro project was "far from a done deal".
"There are serious flaws in the state assessment process," council spokeswoman Mia Pepper said.
Ms Pepper said Toro also faced financing constraints and its push for Wiluna came as other uranium miners, including BHP Billiton, were putting uranium projects on hold, including some in WA.
"With WA Labor and the Greens opposed to uranium mining in the west, the Wiluna project is unpopular, unsafe and increasingly uncertain," she said.
Dr Smyth said Toro was continuing with efforts to secure finance and had been heartened by the response so far from potential joint-venture partners, despite continuing market challenges.
"The reputation of your company as one which does what it says it will do is growing in the industry, the international markets and community circles," she told shareholders.
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