THE pro-uranium mining stance of Colin Barnett's newly installed WA Government will spark a significant drilling program in the state that is likely to deliver billions of dollars to both state and federal coffers, according to analysts and the industry.
Uranium miners with projects in Western Australia have been on a knife edge since the poll, waiting to see whether the pro-uranium Nationals would support the pro-uranium Liberal Party or form an alliance with the anti-uranium Labor Party.
Liberal leader Colin Barnett was yesterday announced as Premier after the Liberals secured the support of the Nationals in a move that will launch a new chapter for uranium prospects in the state.
The Australian Uranium Association has conservatively estimated that uranium mining in WA would increase the gross state product by $3.2 billion in net present value terms to 2030 and provide an extra $200 million in royalties over the same period.
The association also estimates that WA's export values would be $4 billion higher and Australia's GDP would be $2.25 billion higher to 2030 with uranium mining in the state.
During the election campaign, former Labor premier Alan Carpenter pledged to legislate against uranium mining, prompting Canadian explorer Mega Uranium to threaten to pull out of Australia.
Mega yesterday forecast a fast-tracking of their Lake Maitland project after learning that the Nationals would support the Liberals to form government.
Mega vice-president of project development Peter McNally said the pro-uranium Government would reassure investors, explorers and international customers.
"It will lift their confidence in WA a hell of a lot -- you'd expect a lot of money to be invested now," Mr McNally said.
The most advanced uranium projects in WA include BHP Billiton's Yeelirrie project, the Cameco-Mitsubishi's Kintyre joint-venture, Energy and Minerals Australia's Mulga Rocks and Paladin's Oobagooma/Yampi and Manyingee projects.
According to the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics, Australia exported 10,151 tonnes of uranium oxide or yellowcake worth $887 million in 2007-08, a 5.8 per cent increase on 2006-07 exports.
UBS analysts said last week that a Liberal-National government in WA would be "positive for uranium stocks with significant assets in the state" and would spark a "significant drilling program".
But they warned that the majority of deposits were still at an early stage and lacked a JORC-compliant resource. They said they would require significant exploration to firm up the potential resource.
"Potential first production would be unlikely within a five-year time frame, due to time needed for exploration, permitting and construction," the UBS analysts said.
Despite renewed enthusiasm for uranium exploration in the west, the Australian Uranium Association said the extended ban meant WA lacked "the policy and regulatory infrastructure and expertise".
"You would need to build that capacity within the resources department, the environment department and in the indigenous affairs department as well," said the association's executive director, Michael Angwin.
"The ban in WA has left a legacy that will take some time to overcome. But there's scope to make quick gains. You can develop the policy and regulation infrastructure faster than you can develop mines.
"The development of mines would take three or four years and you could do the policy and regulatory infrastructure in 12 to 18 months."