Monday, August 15, 2005

Niue could hold massive uranium deposit

Niue could hold massive uranium deposit

16:07 AEST Mon Aug 15 2005
The Pacific island nation of Niue could be sitting on the world's biggest uranium deposit, according to the Aussie exploration company about to begin drilling there.

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 $1.2 million on exploration work.

Yamarna's director Richard Revelins said 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, which at 260 square kilometres is the world's largest coral atoll.

"It's very early days, but if it's mineralised on the basis of the model that we are running it has the potential to be very large indeed," he said.

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 said if a large mine was set up it would have a big impact on Niue.

"If there is a big find it will raise the challenge of economic management," he said.

"If the resource is managed well then it could be a boon for their development but if it mismanaged you have the problems of Nauru."

At present there is little industry on Niue and the population has shrunk from a peak of 5,200 in 1966 to about 2,100 in 2004 as people migrate to New Zealand.

The country's heavy reliance on foreign aid has intensified since it was hit by a devastating hurricane in 2004.

©AAP 2005


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