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BHP offloads Australian uranium project to Cameco

27 august 2012, 10:34
BHP Billiton on Monday said it was selling one of Australia's largest underdeveloped uranium mines to Cameco for US$430 million, just days after delaying its Olympic Dam copper and uranium project, AFP reports.

The world's biggest miner said an agreement had been signed for its wholly-owned Yeelirrie uranium deposit in Western Australia, and was awaiting clearance from Australian regulators and the state government.

"Cameco is one of the world's largest publicly listed uranium producers and is highly respected in the industry," BHP Billiton Uranium president Dean Dalla Valle said of the Canadian-based giant.

"We believe they are well placed to carry this project forward in a responsible manner."

Yeelirrie is one of Australia's largest undeveloped uranium deposits, 650 kilometres (400 miles) northeast of Perth. Uranium was discovered at the site in 1972 by Western Mining Corporation, which was acquired by BHP in 2005.

The decision to offload the mine followed last week's announcement that expansion of BHP's US$20 billion Olympic Dam project had been scrapped after a near 35 percent slump in annual net profit.

Chief executive of Melbourne-based BHP Marius Kloppers last week said the company had no plans to develop any uranium projects other than Olympic Dam.

"Generally speaking those mines are too small a scale to fit in our portfolio and the product, quite candidly, is too small to fit into our portfolio on its own," he said.

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