Australia’s Queensland State Wants To Ban Anew Uranium Mining

By @ibtimesau on
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IN PHOTO: Workers close a container of uranium oxide after the opening of the Khorasan-1 uranium mine in southern Kazakhstan April 24, 2009. Japan opened the major uranium mine in Kazakhstan on Friday, gaining access to alternative energy supplies from resource-rich Central Asia. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

Three years after the previous government overturned a 30-decade-old ban in uranium mining, the government of current Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is set to revive that injunction, stifling the promise of jobs and economic growth for the state. It is presumed the ban revival will be imposed due to environmental reasons.

Anthony Lynham, the newly instated Queensland minister for natural resources and mines, said that while mining of the yellowcake uranium will no longer take place, applications for explorations for “minerals other than coal” will be entertained. Miners immediately pounded on the plans to revive the ban, saying the government should assess uranium projects based on their merits rather than imposing a blanket embargo.

The government would be better to judge the qualities of each project against the regulatory framework for uranium rather than reimpose the ban as a whole, Michael Roche, CEO of Queensland Resources Council, said. "Reimposition of a blanket ban on uranium mining will come as a particular disappointment to the people of northwest Queensland, who rightly see uranium mining as a valuable new jobs generator for the region." He also advised the government to allow uranium projects only in the state’s northwest region, since that is where the more valuable deposits are located.

Courier Mail, meantime, believes it would have been better if Palaszczuk government first created a commission that would examine the costs and benefits of mining uranium in her area of responsibility, similar to what South Australian Labor Premier Jay Weatherill did on BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam. “In commissioning his inquiry, Mr Weatherill looked for solutions not just to economic woes but also to climate change wrought by a coal-dependent Australia — a reality green protesters would do well to acknowledge. If an open debate on uranium is good enough for Mr Weatherill — who has previously opposed yellowcake mining — why isn’t it for Queensland?” Courier Mail reports.

Three years after the former Newman government lifted the ban in 2012, Queensland has yet to have a new operational uranium mine. But explorations have erupted, specifically in the northwest.

Queensland stopped mining uranium upon the closure of the Mary Kathleen mine in 1982. It has 80 uranium mine potential sites, located mostly in the northwest, valued at $18 billion.

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