BHP sells uranium mine for US$430m
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Nicholas Grove is a Morningstar journalist.
BHP Billiton (BHP) has sold its Yeelirrie uranium deposit in Western Australia to Canadian uranium miner Cameco Corporation for US$430 million.
The sale is subject to relevant approvals from the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board and the government of Western Australia, BHP said in a statement.
Yeelirrie is located 630 kilometres north-east of Perth in the Northern Goldfields region of Western Australia.
Uranium was discovered at the Yeelirrie site in 1972 by Western Mining Corporation, which was acquired by BHP in 2005.
Over the weekend, BHP also announced that recent studies had shown the company's 85 per cent-owned Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) division had the potential to ship "substantially more" iron ore through the Port Hedland Inner Harbour than the current 240 million tonnes per annum.
As a result, work on the Outer Harbour has been slowed while WAIO's focus has shifted to maximising its potential capacity from the Inner Harbour, BHP said.
The West Australian government has granted WAIO the right to develop two additional berths in the Inner Harbour.
"Over the past 10 years, BHP Billiton has invested approximately US$19 billion in growing its WAIO business," BHP Billiton president iron ore, Jimmy Wilson, said.
"What has become apparent through this process is that a number of the existing facilities have, or with minor modifications will have, the potential to deliver substantially more capacity than was assumed originally."
Wilson reiterated that development of the Outer Harbour at Port Hedland "remains attractive".
"The Outer Harbour continues to be an important part of our long-term strategy," he said.
"Despite the substantial establishment costs associated with this greenfield facility, our analysis concluded that development of the first 50 mtpa phase of the Outer Harbour Project would deliver a value-adding investment return as a standalone project.
"The Outer Harbour therefore remains a critical part of our future growth plans, but is not our best option right now."