25 October 2012

Uranium ban overturned, but production is years away

The Queensland Government has announced that it will assemble a three member committee to oversee the reintroduction of uranium mining in Queensland.

Despite Australia boasting 31% of the world’s total minable uranium, uranium mining has been banned or contrary to government policy for the better part of 30 years in most states. In Queensland, uranium mining has not occurred since the closure of the Mary Kathleen uranium mine in 1982.

The Queensland Government has never prohibited exploration for uranium, nor has it banned uranium mining by legislation, it has simply made it clear that no mining leases for uranium would be granted as a matter of government policy. Some exploration for uranium deposits has continued in Queensland, with known uranium deposits valued between A$10 billion and A$18 billion. Valhalla, owned by Palladin Energy located 40 km north-west of Mt Isa is the largest known deposit, with significant deposits also located at the Westmoreland (Laramide Resources), Ben Lomund (Mega Uranium) and Maureen (Mega Uranium) deposits.

The relaxation of the federal government’s ‘no new mines’ policy, coupled with the announcement of uranium sales to India, led the Queensland government to move towards the reintroduction of uranium mining. Despite the possibility of A$900 million in royalties, the myriad international, federal and state environmental regulations mean that it could take at least four years for a mine to be developed in Queensland.

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