16 Aug 2005

Australian company renews interest in chance of Niue uranium

8:27 am on 16 August 2005

An Australian exploration company about to begin drilling in Niue says the country could be sitting on the world's biggest uranium deposit.

Junior explorer Yamarna Goldfields Ltd, which is taking a stake in the exploration project, says geological modelling shows there is the potential for a uranium deposit on Niue "equal or greater" than the world's biggest deposit at Olympic Dam in South Australia.

The company has signed an agreement with Canberra-based explorer Avian Mining Pty Ltd to take a stake of up to 80 per cent in the project and to spend over 920-thousand US dollars on exploration work.

Yamarna's director Richard Revelins says geological modelling done by Avian and government scientists from New Zealand and Australia showed the potential for a massive deposit beneath the limestone of Niue.

Yamarna will now work to prove the tonnage and grade of the potential resource after which it would prepare a statement on the impact of mining on Niue and apply to convert the current prospecting licence into a mining lease.

Dr Satish Chand of the Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University says if a large mine was set up it would have a big impact on Niue.

Dr Chand says if there is a big find it will raise the challenge of economic management.

He says if the resource is managed well then it could be a boon for Niuean development but if it mismanaged there will be problems like that of Nauru.