Although Cameco (TSX:CCO) has put forth a proposal for uranium mining at its Yeelirrie deposit in Australia, the Western Australia Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is adamant that the project shouldn't go ahead.
According to World Nuclear News, Cameco submitted the proposal in November 2014 after purchasing the deposit from BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP,ASX:BHP,LSE:BLT) in 2012. The submission to the EPA was to mine up to 7,5000 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate per year at the Yeelirrie over a 22-year span.
The EPA released an environmental impact assessment on the proposal, and alleges one out of nine key environmental factors did not meet the EPAP's environmental objectives.
"The proposal has the potential to significantly impact the ecological function, diversity and viability of the subterranean fauna assemblage at Yeelirrie," it reads.
Additional impacts were stated as follows:
The impacts to subterranean fauna from the proposal have been identified as habitat loss from excavation (mine pits), groundwater drawdown and impacts to habitat from ground disturbance, stockpiling, surface contamination and tailings. Impacts to habitat from changes in groundwater quality and water chemistry, in particular chloride and salinity, and alteration of hydrology from diversion as a result of the Tailings Storage Facility (TSF) are also expected.
The EPA further stated there's a great risk of a loss of species "that are restricted to the impact area," and it "therefore considers that the impact is such that the proposal should not be implemented."
Cameco responded to the EPA's recommendations and acknowledged the "complexity and uncertainty" in assessing subterranean fauna.
Cameco Australia's managing director, Brian Reilly, said in the release that sampling and impact management for subterranean fauna is complex and that it is reflected in the EPA's findings.
"We believe that with further sampling and research, subterranean fauna can be appropriately managed at Yeelirrie and we will work with government agencies and stakeholders to find a way forward," he said in the release.
The EPA's report to the Minister for Environment is open for a two-week public appeal period, closing on August 17.
For investors, the takeaway is to always keep an eye on permitting processes. Take time to assess risks to permitting timelines or approvals when making your decisions.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.