On 16 August 2013 Alliance Resources Limited announced that the South Australian Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE) had granted environmental approval for the new $110 million Four Mile uranium project. The approval related to the Program for Environment Protection and Rehabilitation in accordance with section 70B(5) of the Mining Act 1971 (SA).

The Four Mile project is located 550 km north of Adelaide and is a joint venture between Quasar Resources Pty Ltd (75%) and Alliance Cranton Explorer Pty Ltd (25%). Quasar Resources is an affiliate of Heathgate Resources Pty Ltd, which operates the adjacent Beverley uranium mine, and Alliance Cranton Explorer is a subsidiary of the listed Alliance Resources. Quasar Resources is acting as project manager and is undertaking studies on the most appropriate mining method for the project.

The uranium deposit at the Four Mile site was first discovered in 2005 and the initial resource is 3.9 million tonnes at 0.37% uranium oxide containing 15,000 tonnes of uranium oxide. 

The environmental approval comes on the back of an announcement in June this year by Federal Resource Minister Gary Gray that Australian uranium production should increase to meet future global demand. The Minister explained that in 2013 nuclear power generators will require 66,000 tonnes of uranium whereas current annual global production is 55,000 tonnes. Furthermore, 66 nuclear power generators are under construction with many more planned, particularly in China and India.

Australian uranium production was 8,000 tonnes in 2012 but, with 33% of the world’s recoverable uranium resources, the Australian Uranium Association predicts that this could potentially rise to 28,500 tonnes annually. 

The environmental approval comes after the South Australian government granted a ten year mining lease for the Four Mile project last year. The South Australian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has approved the project’s radiation management policies. Federal approval for the project was granted by then Environment Minister Peter Garret in 2009. 

In its announcement to the ASX, Alliance Resources noted that DMITRE advised that prior to mining operation commencing the following approvals are outstanding:

  • modification of the existing environmental plans for the Beverly mine, and
  • approval of the relevant monitoring programs and plans required under Commonwealth legislation.

Additionally, the project participants must pay the Rehabilitation Liability Bond and submit design, construction and commission reports to DMITRE and the EPA.