PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Queensland government on Monday announced it would allow restart of uranium mining in the state, convening a three-member implementation committee to oversee the process.
The committee would report back to the government within three months.
Premier Campbell Newman said the decision followed sustained public debate on uranium mining in Queensland, and strong support for the industry from the federal government.
“Prime Minister Julia Gillard has just been in India selling the benefits of Australian-produced uranium to India, prompting many in the community to ask about the industry’s potential in Queensland,” Newman said.
“It’s been 30 years since there was uranium mining in this state, and in that time Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia have carved out successful uranium industries that deliver jobs and prosperity to their regions.”
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) said the lifting of the ban on uranium mining would be a “huge opportunity” for Queensland, putting an estimated value of A$18-billion on the state’s known uranium resources.
“That A$18-billion resource value translates into A$900-million potential earnings in royalties from the mining of uranium,” CEO Michael Roche said.
He stated several QRC member companies had well-advanced plans to develop Queensland’s uranium resources, adding that the experience in Western Australia suggested an overturn on the uranium ban would unleash an upsurge in exploration, thereby further boosting the state’s known uranium resource.
Roche said the QRC would be keen to assist the three-member implementation committee and pointed out the industry's commitment to environmental safeguards and the safety of its workers and the wider community.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said Queensland would not consider nuclear energy production or nuclear waste disposal plants in the state as part of the recommencement of uranium mining.
Uranium mining has not occurred in Queensland since 1982 and has been effectively prohibited since 1989. Exploration for uranium, however, has not been subject to the prohibition and there has been significant continuing interest from the industry in exploring for uranium in the state.
Australia-based uranium miner Paladin Energy, which owns producing mines in Africa and projects in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia, welcomed the uranium mining ban overturn.
“This initiative taken by the Queensland state government is a hugely positive move for the Australian uranium industry as a whole. With a pro-uranium position, priorities can now be made on deposit quality and markets, and thankfully the politics of access will not be a key determinant of going forward,” MD and CEO John Borshoff said.