WESTERN AUSTRALIA — Melbourne’s BHP Billiton has plans to develop a second uranium mine in Australia. The Yeelirrie project will be a sister to the Olympic Dam mine that produces copper, silver and gold as well as uranium oxide.
Assuming permits are obtained in a reasonable length of time, construction at Yeelirrie will begin in 2011, with initial production in 2014. The deposit lies at surface, under just a few metres of overburden, and is known to extend 9 km along strike and is up to 1.5 km wide.
The Yeelirrie deposit is Australia’s second largest undeveloped uranium target, and it is 100% owned by BHP Billiton. It was discovered about 500 km north of Kalgoorlie by Western Mining Corp. in 1972. Western’s 1979 technical report put resources at 33.81 million tonnes of mineralized material averaging 0.14% U3O8. Ownership passed to BHP Billiton in 2005. Today, indicated resources are said to contain at least 52,000 tonnes of U3O8 (non-compliant), which could produce 5,000 t/y for at least 30 years.
The BHP Billiton website is at www.BHPBilliton.com.