Toro Energy Delays Financing Negotiations on Proposed WA Uranium Mine Pending Release of Govt EPA

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | November 28, 2012 5:01 PM EST

Toro Energy, which is out to construct the first ever uranium mine in Western Australia, has delayed to the back burner the financing negotiations over the proposed mine project in Wiluna pending the approval and release of the federal government's environmental decision.

During the its annual meeting in Adelaide on Wednesday, the company said it has suspended pushing further financing negotiations on the project until Tony Burke, federal environment minister, stamps his approval on the uranium mine project in Wiluna town in the northern Goldfields.

The company expects Mr Burke to release his decision on the mine project by the end of the year.

"We anticipate it will take longer to secure a financing arrangement and hence it will take longer to make that investment decision in late 2013, and correspondingly the first sales will be in 2015," Greg Hall, Toro Energy managing director, told AAP after the company's annual general meeting.

Interest on WA's first uranium mine project got into the limelight when environmentalists argued the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) erred when it supported and approved Toro Energy's plans to push through with the construction and development of the open pit type uranium mine, especially since the miner has yet to provide a safe and reliable track record in uranium mine construction, development and maintenance.

"We do not trust Toro Energy... they have no track record in successfully operating uranium mines," the Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) had earlier said.

Erika Smyth, Toro Energy chairwoman, defended the project underwent a very rigorous three-year environmental assessment, wherein the public was made to comment on the project on four separate opportunities.

"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 told shareholders.

"We have been treated no differently from a major resource company in the extent to which our proposals have been assessed by government."

Wiluna has two uranium resource deposits and has an expected life span of 14 years.

Toro Energy would process annually 1.3 million tonnes of ore from Wiluna in order to churn out 820 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate.

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