PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Australian resources sector has welcomed the South Australian government’s decision to appoint a Royal Commission to consider the state’s nuclear energy potential.
Premier Jay Weatherill appointed former South Australian Governor Kevin Scarce to lead the commission in considering the role South Australia could potentially play in the fuel cycle.
Weatherill said the government would begin consultation with Scarce on a draft terms of reference and on the appointment of a number of independent experts to help the commission in its work.
“We are now asking the community for their input to determine the terms of reference which will guide the Royal Commission,” he said.
Weatherill also said that the federal government had expressed its full support for the proposal and promised the cooperation of all commonwealth agencies.
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) was quick to welcome Weatherill’s decision, saying it reflected the contribution that nuclear energy could play in Australia, providing “safe, low emissions, baseload energy”.
“It is clear nuclear power will play a critical role in sustainably producing electricity in the world in the twenty-first century. This is clear in forecasts by the International Energy Agency and in repeated calls by the International Panel on Climate Change for the world to triple or quadruple all low-emissions energy sources including nuclear power,” said MCA executive director for uranium Daniel Zavattiero.
“Australia’s uranium industry is well established, highly regulated and second only to black coal in terms of Australia’s primary energy production. It operates safely and responsibly and forms an outstanding basis on which to explore further potential in the nuclear fuel cycle,” he added.
The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (Sacome) also welcomed the move, with CEO Jason Kuchel saying it made sense that the state should take full advantage of its existing position in the nuclear fuel cycle, considering the state hosted about 25% of the world’s known uranium resources.
Kuchel pointed out that a recent survey by The Advertiser and Sacome in 2013, discovered that South Australians were open to the whole nuclear fuel cycle chain including uranium mining, enrichment, storage and power production.
“Sacome’s survey found that 63% supported nuclear to assist in mitigating climate change, and 62% supported further job opportunities in the uranium industry. Now is the time to have a mature discussion.”
South Australia is estimated to host 80% of Australia’s uranium resources and last financial year produced 4 399 t of uranium for export.