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.