By Eric Tlozek and Bridget SmithUpdated October 22, 2012 15:13:17
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has announced he is ending the state’s decades-long ban on uranium mining.
The State Government decision reverses the position Mr Newman’s Liberal National Party took to the election in March.
Uranium has not been mined in Queensland since the closure of the Mary Kathleen mine in the state’s north-west in 1982.
State Cabinet made the decision while meeting today in the southern border town of Goondiwindi.
The Queensland Resources Council says the state holds about $18 billion worth of known uranium reserves, mostly in the north-west.
Mr Newman says the decision to lift the ban was partially prompted by Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s recent support for uranium sales to India.
“With the Prime Minister’s statement about uranium exports to India, there is no earthly reason why Queenslanders should miss out on the economic opportunities and the jobs from uranium mining in this state,” he said.
He says the resumption of mining will be overseen by a three-member committee that will report to Parliament in three months.
The State Government says it has no plans to develop nuclear power or allow the disposal of nuclear waste in Queensland.
Mr Newman says uranium mining operations could take more than a year to get up and running again.
The State Government says there are more than 80 known sites that contain valuable amounts of uranium, mostly in the state’s north-west.
Successive Labor state governments had maintained a policy of allowing uranium exploration but not mining.
Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney says the LNP has broken an election promise on the issue.
“They said that they were crystal clear that they had no plans or desire to approve or facilitate the development of uranium in Queensland,” he said.
“This is a massive and deeply disappointing about-face that completely lacks a basis in evidence and also runs against community promises and expectation.”
But State Member for Mount Isa Rob Katter says uranium mining will broaden the industry base in Queensland and generate hundreds of jobs.
“Valhalla Reserve is about 35 kilometres north of Mount Isa – just off the bitumen – it was the third or fourth biggest deposit in Australia,” he said.
“It rates between eighth and 12th largest in the world.
“Last time I checked, there is about $2 billion in royalties sitting in the ground in Queensland from uranium reserves.”
Speaking before Mr Newman’s announcement, Mount Isa Mayor Tony McGrady predicted the decision would spark another resources boom and bring Queensland into line with other uranium-rich states.
“The Federal Labor Government supports the mining and export of uranium, and the Opposition does, and every other state and territory – all except Queensland,” he said.
The Australian Uranium Association says the majority of the nation’s uranium deposits are found in Queensland, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
In February the New South Wales Liberal State Government approved the resumption of exploration for uranium, a move which was seen as paving the way for a full resumption of mining.
Mining is currently banned in Victoria but allowed in South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.Topics:
uranium-mining, public-sector, mining-rural, mining-environmental-issues, mining-industry, liberal-national-party-queensland, goondiwindi-4390, brisbane-4000, longreach-4730, mount-isa-4825, toowoomba-4350 First posted October 22, 2012 13:24:29