Australia has the world's largest Reasonably Assured Resources (RAR) of uranium and produces around 16 per cent of the world's uranium. After a long period of stability, characterised by a handful of mines operated by the big resource players, the uranium industry in Australia is undergoing a state of rapid change. New mines have been approved and state-based mining bans have been lifted in Western Australia and Queensland, with New South Wales potentially to follow suit in due course.
Allens has been involved in Australia's uranium industry for a number of years, advising on the development and operation of the seminal mines that established the industry. Our experience working with the world's biggest resource companies and financiers on some of the largest uranium projects, and our strong knowledge of the applicable regulatory regimes, means we are ideally placed to guide our clients through the new wave of uranium exploration and development in Australia.
Our work spans all aspects of uranium mining, including project finance, project structuring and joint ventures, land access (third-party and native title issues), M&A transactions involving uranium projects, infrastructure development and access (power, rail, port and water), obtaining any relevant regulatory approvals and the ongoing operation and closure of projects. We bring market-leading expertise in all of the areas relevant to uranium mine operations, including environmental law, occupational health and safety, native title and cultural heritage, employment law and broad disputes experience.
Our understanding of the resources industry is unparalleled among law firms in Australia. In 2013, Chambers ranked Allens in the top tier of law firms globally for Projects and Energy work in the Mining and Minerals sector.
- Ranger mine – acting as ongoing adviser to Energy Resources Australia (ERA) on a variety of operational matters as well as discrete project proposals and incidents at its Ranger mine in the Northern Territory.
- Olympic Dam mine – advising WMC Resources in relation to all aspects of the takeover made by BHP Billiton. WMC's key asset was the Olympic Dam copper/uranium mine in South Australia, which includes the world's largest uranium deposit.
- Kintyre uranium project – advising Rio Tinto on the US$495 million sale of its Kintyre project in Western Australia to a joint venture consortium comprising subsidiaries of Cameco Corporation and Mitsubishi Development. Prior to the sale, we advised Rio Tinto on mining law, tenure and government policy issues on the development of the project.
- Honeymoon mine – advising Uranium One on its investment in the mine, including most recently on Mitsui's withdrawal from the joint venture, resulting in Uranium One holding 100 per cent of the project.
- Four Mile uranium project – advising Quasar Resources in a series of related disputes concerning this uranium project in South Australia and various operational matters. We have previously advised on litigation matters between two joint venture partners. The matters concerned native title mining agreements and alleged misleading and deceptive conduct and breach of fiduciary duty.
Read about our uranium mining capability (PDF).