The tenuous financial viability of Western Australia's first proposed uranium mine is the subject of a new research paper undertaken by independent market analysts Economists at Large, commissioned by Western Australian Senator Scott Ludlam and a range of environmental groups.
"The study shows that Toro's proposed Wiluna Project may scrape into financially viability if absolutely every possible variable goes Toro's way - but only if the company can avoid clean-up and decommissioning costs," said Senator Ludlam.
"Most crucially, the numbers are against the company as soon as the cost of clean-up is factored in. Because the company has not submitted a costed mine closure plan or established where it will find the money to post a rehabilitation bond, the site looks to become an open-ended contamination liability for taxpayers.
"According to this study, if the most optimistic range of estimates for the world uranium price, exchange rates, capital and operating costs all go the company's way, the Net Present Value of the project is positive. As soon as any of these variables slip backwards from the company's optimistic assumptions, the NPV calculations turn negative.
"Nuclear power is in retreat in Europe and the United States, and the disaster in Japan has torpedoed expectations for a big nuclear expansion in Asia. We commissioned this study because we believed Toro was a risky proposition; the numbers bear this out, and explain in part why much larger uranium companies BHP and Cameco have mothballed their WA projects while Toro pushes blindly ahead. This study tells the investment community in black and white: buyer beware.
"The Greens believe this project will be an environmental disaster if it goes ahead; this report gives some numbers to the scale of the financial disaster that may await as well," Senator Ludlam concluded.
The study can be downloaded here: