PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) on Monday welcomed a report by the Uranium Mining Implementation Committee, saying it was the regulatory foundation for the development of a uranium industry in the state.
During October last year, the Queensland government announced that it would allow the restart of uranium mining in the state, and, at the time, convened a three-member implementation committee to oversee the process.
In its report, released on Monday, the implementation committee made several recommendations, which it said represented not only best practice, but were also responsive to the needs of the Queensland region where uranium mining was most likely to take place.
Key recommendations included that the state government should ensure a coordinated approvals process for uranium mining, the assessment of uranium mines should be undertaken according to a bilateral agreement between the state and federal government, and that the state government should establish an inter-state committee to oversee and harmonise the transport and logistics associated with uranium.
The committee also suggested that specific mine health and safety documentation should be developed to ensure best standards are maintained in all areas of uranium exploration, mining, milling and processing, and that radiation safety regulators must develop and implement guiding principles for emergency response.
It was also suggested that an environmental-model condition specific to uranium mining should be developed, focused on achieving positive environmental outcomes, rather than prescriptive measures.
The committee also suggested that the state government apply a 5% royalty regime to uranium, but noted that it should also investigate the use of a higher rate once the price of uranium reached a certain threshold.
“With latest estimates from the Australian Uranium Association valuing the currently known uranium resource in Queensland at A$18-billion, establishing the ground rules for uranium mining in Queensland is an important step towards realising the industry’s potential,” said QRC CEO Michael Roche.
He noted that the committee’s recommendation that a new mine concessional royalty rate of 2.5% for the first five years of operation would give the Queensland uranium industry a competitive edge.
“The concept of a concessional royalty rate for new mines is a model that could have broader application in the Queensland resources sector as the global competition for investment capital is only going to get fiercer.
“On the other hand, we would caution the state government against adopting the coal industry royalty model of applying an uncompetitive higher rate for higher commodity prices,” Roche said.
He noted that the QRC was enthused by a proposal for a training and business development trust to assist indigenous Queenslanders to access benefits from uranium mining, as well as more broadly, from across the resources sector.
“Such a trust has the potential to complement the good work under way in promoting indigenous training, employment and business development under a memorandum of understanding between the QRC and state and federal governments with the aim of increasing indigenous employment and economic participation in the Queensland resources sector.”