Uranium bid puts Labor under pump
A WA uranium mining company backed by Andrew Forrest says it would be “flabbergasted” if its plans to develop one of Australia’s biggest yellowcake mines were blocked by the State Government.
Amid a stoush within the Labor Party over whether to allow projects given environmental sign-off by the previous government, Vimy Resources said it had been led to believe its development would be able to proceed.
Vimy wants to develop one of the country’s biggest untapped uranium deposits by building a uranium mine at Mulga Rock in the eastern Goldfields.
The project is one of four WA proposals that have been caught up in internal Labor bickering over whether uranium mines approved by the Barnett government should go ahead.
Under Labor policy, the party is opposed to uranium mining, except for projects that have been given “final approvals”.
But Premier Mark McGowan has repeatedly declined to spell out what this constitutes.
After Mines Minister Bill Johnston said “those projects approved by the previous government would be able to proceed”, the party’s Left faction led by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union tried to shoot down the remark.
Vimy chief executive Mike Young noted that the environmental approval granted to Mulga Rock by former environment minister Albert Jacob in December was a whole-of-government decision endorsed by Cabinet.
Mr Young said environmental approval was the ultimate “primary” approval and, as such, he would be staggered if the new Government reneged on it.
“(Minister Johnston’s comments)... were completely consistent with the public comments that Mr McGowan had made and they were entirely consistent with discussions we’d had with Labor,” he said.
“We’re operating under that premise.”
Despite the environmental approval, Mr Young said Vimy would unlikely be in a position to develop Mulga Rock until the uranium price improved.