Thursday, December 1, 2011

Toro Energy Seeks Partners For $280m WA Uranium Mine

Published on Thursday December 01 2011

TORO Energy will consider all project funding options as it moves towards developing Western Australia's first uranium mine.
"In Australia there are four operating uranium mines," Toro Energy managing director Greg Hall said.

"Going forward, we are the lead company. We're on a path, subject to WA and federal approvals, that means we will be the next uranium mine."

Mr Hall told the company's annual general meeting in Adelaide yesterday Toro estimated it will cost about $280 million to build the mine at Wiluna in south-central WA.

The Norwood company intends to lodge its final Environmental Review and Management Program for Wiluna with the WA Government this month and anticipates government approvals by mid-2012, leading to commissioning in 2013.

Toro was looking for options to fund Wiluna, which would produce about 820 tonnes a year of uranium.

"We have been searching, and discussing, with potential cornerstone investors and joint venture partners," he said. " ... we're looking at potential methods of financing the project.

"In the current climate, the most likely method will be a joint venture partner who takes part-ownership in return for both funding and offtake of uranium. While we're marketing uranium directly to nuclear utilities to put in place contracts that'll give us good returns, we're also keeping aside a portion of offtake for those tentative joint venture discussions."

Chairman Erica Smyth said the company was proceeding very cautiously.

"We will need the stars to align, but we believe they will," she said.

"We're looking at all the options to finance this." Both Dr Smyth and Mr Hall said the industry had been dealt a severe blow by the Fukushima disaster.

Nonetheless, sentiment had bounced back far more quickly than the post-Chernobyl era.

"Due to the immediate precautionary 20km evacuation zone, the International Atomic Energy Agency preliminary summary is that `to date no health effects have been reported in any person as a result of radiation exposure from the nuclear accident'," Dr Smyth said. "(And) it is now believed that no member of the pub- lic was exposed to any harmful levels of radiation."

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