Updated October 31, 2012 14:54:58
Plans to get Queensland’s uranium industry up and running have sparked debate over how the ore will be exported.
The Queensland Government has established a five-person committee to determine the rules and regulations for the industry, including its transport.
The ports nearest the state’s uranium deposits sit right next to the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef.
Queensland’s uranium deposits are in the state’s north and the nearest ports are Townsville and Cairns.
Both are major tourism destinations and gateways to the Great Barrier Reef.
But chairman of the committee appointed to help Queensland’s uranium industry, Paul Bell, says both ports could be used to export the radioactive material.
“We haven’t seen any significant reaction to any of the options that we’ve probably started to look at in regards to ports – the way in which uranium transport would be carried out in Queensland,” he said.
“It’s still very early days and we think that all options should be certainly investigated.”
Queensland Resources Council spokesman Michael Roche says the state should follow Western Australia’s lead and ship it from Darwin or Adelaide instead.
“Given that the Adelaide-Darwin railway is not too long a reasonable haul from the north-west of Queensland, then it makes sense that uranium could be transported to that rail line and then sent north to Darwin or south to Adelaide,” he said.
In the next four-and-a-half-months the committee will visit uranium projects in the Northern Territory and South Australia to gather information.
Mr Bell says sending Queensland’s uranium interstate for shipping is an option.
“The discussion we’ll be having with governments from Northern Territory and South Australia will be about how do you feel about more tonnage coming through your place,” he said.
“Is that something that you would support or would you see some reluctance and therefore giving us, I suppose, impetus to come back and to certainly have some further discussions with ports here in Queensland?”
Conservationists have slammed the decision to reintroduce uranium mining in Queensland, arguing the environmental risks far outweigh the economic benefits.
But Mr Roche says the state’s known uranium resources are currently valued at $10 billion.
He says that could creep up to $18 billion if uranium prices improve as expected in the next three to five years.
Mr Roche says any mines are at least four years away from operation but the state should consider following the Western Australia Government and setting its uranium royalties at 5 per cent.
“That’s the sort of rate that would be competitive,” he said.
“Any higher than that, then you’re starting to discourage investment.
“Queensland at the end of the day will be competing for projects in Australia as well as in other jurisdictions such as in Canada.”
The committee is expected to report back to the Queensland Government in March. Topics:
public-sector, activism-and-lobbying, uranium-mining, state-parliament, mining-rural, mining-industry, mining-environmental-issues, trade, brisbane-4000, townsville-4810, mount-isa-4825, cairns-4870, darwin-0800 First posted October 31, 2012 08:59:29