Topics:  campbell newman, india, julia gillard, mining industry, nuclear power, queensland government, uranium mining

Premier Newman announces lift on uranium mining ban

Loading of iron ore on a big dump-body truck.
Loading of iron ore on a big dump-body truck. Zavalnyuk Sergey

UPDATE: THE Newman government has cleared the way for Queensland to recommence uranium mining - just days after dismising the idea.

Premier Campbell Newman announced on Monday at noon that a three-person committee would begin planning how best to restart uranium mining after a 30-year moratorium.

Queensland's largest uranium deposits sit between Mt Isa and Cloncurry in the west, and in the north near Townsville and Cairns.

"It's been 30 years since there was uranium mining in this State and, in that time, Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia have carved out successful uranium industries that deliver jobs and prosperity to their regions," Mr Newman said.

Following Prime Minister Julia Gillard's talks in India about Australia potentially supplying the subcontinent with uranium, the Australian Uranium Association called on Queensland to drop its opposition.

On the same day, Mines Minister Andrew Cripps's office told media outlets, including APN, that the government "has no current plans to develop uranium resources in Queensland".

Four days and a cabinet meeting later, that position had changed and Minister Cripps was backing Premier Newman on the revised view on uranium.

It is understood to be the first time the LNP cabinet had discussed a policy on uranium mining.

Mr Cripps now believes the State's uranium deposits are worth up to $10 billion ans can support an industry that has "enormous potential to support economic growth, particularly in regional North Queensland".

He maintained that storing nuclear waste or developing uranium into nuclear power was not something the government would consider.

Federal ALP Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said he looked forward to helping Queensland re-launch its uranium industry.

"Nuclear energy is an important part of the energy mix in countries not as fortunate as Australia in having other clean energy options to address energy security and global warming concerns," Mr Ferguson said.

But state Greens' Senator Larissa Waters saw no environmental benefit to the reform, describing uranium mining as "a toxic, dangerous and completely unnecessary step for the Sunshine state".

Queensland Resources Council, with its membership including a number of companies prepared to start mining uranium, was less downcast.

Chief Michael Roche told of an $18 billion industry delivering $900million to state coffers.

"This decisive action by the Newman government will also create much needed confidence in the broader resources sector in Queensland," he said.

The state's committee on uranium mining will come back to the government within three months.

 

EARLIER: THE State Government will put together a three-member committee to oversee the start of uranium mining in Queensland.

Premier Campbell Newman said the announcement followed sustained public debate on uranium mining in Queensland, and strong support for the uranium industry from the Federal Labor Government.

"The Prime Minister Julia Gillard has just been in India selling the benefits of Australian-produced uranium to India, prompting many in the community to ask about the industry's potential in Queensland," Mr Newman said.

"It's been 30 years since there was uranium mining in this State, and in that time Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia have carved out successful uranium industries that deliver jobs and prosperity to their regions."

Minister for Mines Andrew Cripps backed the LNP Government's leader, estimating that the state's uranium deposits to be worth about $10 billion.

Minister Cripps said there was no move from the government towards the state using nuclear power or disposing of nuclear waste within the state.

Uranium mining has not occurred in Queensland since 1982 and has been effectively prohibited since the election of the Goss Labor Government in 1989.

Exploration for uranium has not been subject to the prohibition and there has been significant continuing interest from the industry in exploring for uranium in the State.



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