(MENAFN - ProactiveInvestors - Australia) Toro Energy (ASX: TOE) will have to wait a little longer for a Federal Government decision on environmental approval for its Wiluna Uranium Project in Western Australia.
Federal Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Tony Burke advised the company that he wants more information on some specific aspects of the project and that the time for his decision has been extended to 31 March 2013.
However, Burke also advised that he hoped to make his decision well in advance of this date.
"Toro is very surprised and extremely disappointed with this further delay," Toro's managing director Greg Hall said.
"It means that there will be a gap of up to six months between the decisions of the two jurisdictions when the bi-lateral agreement was meant to ensure a harmonisation of the process."
Burke noted that Wiluna received Western Australia environmental approval on 10 October 2012 after a three year assessment under a Federal-State bi-lateral agreement.
It was then advised on 6 November by the Federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities that the timeframe for a final Federal Government decision was being extended by 30 business days with a final decision made on 18 December.
The company was also advised on more than one occasion that no further information was required from Toro.
"Today, on the final day for a decision, Toro has been advised that the Minister does in fact want more information on some specific aspects of the project and that the time for his decision has been extended to 31 March 2013," Burke added.
"The Wiluna Project has been subject to a very rigorous assessment which demonstrated to the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority that all impacts could be safely and sustainably managed.
"The Federal Government were also involved in that assessment process, including the appeals which were undertaken by an independent committee. The public also had four opportunities for input to the assessment and Toro has taken into account the views of the community and government agencies in its continuing project design work.
"Toro has provided all of the information required by the Western Australian and Federal Governments throughout the assessment process since 2009 and the Federal Government did not question or appeal the Western Australian approval decision.
"Toro will seek meetings with the Minister and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities to clarify the nature of, and reasons for the additional information sought.
"Toro is confident that it can adequately respond to any issues the Minister may have to allow him to make a positive decision on the project well before the stated time frame."
Toro originally expected to make a final investment decision on its wholly-owned Wiluna, which comprises the Centipede and Lake Way deposits, in the second half of 2013, with construction slated to begin shortly after and first sales anticipated in the 2014-15 financial year.
The project is the most advanced of the new generation of uranium projects in Australia.
Wiluna is anticipated to produce 1.7 million pounds of U3O8 per year with a project life of up to 14 years and the opportunity to extend mine life on successful brownfield exploration.
The total regional uranium Measured, Indicated and Inferred JORC resource is 54 million pounds across five deposits, with significant upside in currently held but under-developed exploration tenements.