Melbourne, Australia — 29 August 2012 – Top global miner BHP Billiton has agreed to sell an Australian uranium deposit to Canada’s Cameco Corporation for US$430 million, as part of its drive to shed assets to help improve returns and shore up cash in a deteriorating commodity market.
Reuters reports that the move marks another sign of BHP’s doubts about the future of uranium demand in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster, coming less than a week after the company shelved a US$20 billion-plus expansion of the world’s largest known uranium deposit, Olympic Dam, in South Australia.
“We can’t pursue all of the growth operations that are before us, and we need to develop the ones with the best returns,” said BHP spokesman Antonios Papaspiropoulos.
BHP had been looking to dig 90,000t of uranium from the Yeelirrie deposit in Western Australia, one of Australia’s largest undeveloped uranium deposits, over 30 years.
Cameco, one of the world’s top uranium producers, is already active in Australia, working on 20 exploration projects and looking to develop the smaller Kintyre deposit in Western Australia.
A recent study put measured and indicated resources at Yeelirrie at about 139 million pounds of uranium oxide with an average grade of about 0.13 percent under Australia’s reporting rules.
Cameco said the historic estimate “may be overstated by approximately 10%, adding that it would review the estimate to meet Canadian requirements.
“Yeelirrie represents an attractive deposit that fits well with Cameco’s vision and corporate strategy,” Cameco CEO Tim Gitzel said in a statement. The acquisition is subject to approvals from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board and the state of Western Australia.
Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.