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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage


18 March 1999

Federal Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill, today announced that an additional independent assessment of hydrogeological information had cleared the way for production to commence at the Beverley uranium mine.

Senator Hill indicated that the additional hydrogeological assessment confirmed that the proposed mining operations at Beverley will be environmentally safe.

'The isolation of the aquifer makes it uniquely suited to the in-situ leaching technology to be employed in recovering uranium at Beverley.'

The independent assessment was conducted by the Australian Geological Survey Organisation (AGSO).

The assessment satisfies the recommendation made by Senator Hill under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974 in December 1998 that, before final approvals are granted, the Commonwealth must be satisfied that no hydraulic connection exists between the Beverley aquifer and other surrounding ground water.

'The advice from AGSO demonstrates that the Beverley Sand aquifer is isolated from the Great Artesian Basin and other surrounding ground water. Other key findings of the assessment include:

The Beverley aquifer is therefore suitable for in situ leach mining and the northern mineralised zone is suitable for re-injection of waste material.'

Senator Hill indicated that further assessment would be required before the central and southern components of the aquifer could be considered for re-injection.

In conducting its assessment, AGSO was able to consider additional detailed modelling which had not previously been available in the assessment process. AGSO also has extensive knowledge and experience of the hydrogeology of the Great Artesian Basin, which added further value to the assessment process.

'I am advised that the findings of the additional work by AGSO are consistent with the previous report prepared by American Geosciences Inc (a company from the USA with expertise in situ leach mining) on the Beverley geology and hydrogeology. I am also advised that the AGSO findings are reinforced by expert advice from the Netherlands Institute of Applied Geoscience.

Senator Hill indicated that the successful completion of this additional level of environmental assessment demonstrated the Commonwealth Government's commitment to the highest standards of environmental protection.

The Beverley mine will provide a significant boost to the South Australian economy, creating up to 400 jobs when fully operational. The proponent has also reached agreements with four Aboriginal groups who have lodged native title claims over the Beverley area, providing for royalty and other payments over the life of the mine.

Commercial production is expected to commence in 2000.

Media Contact: Rod Bruem 02 62 777 640 or 04111 28582

Commonwealth of Australia