Western Australia lifts uranium mining ban.
Western Australia has lifted the previous Labor government’s effective ban on uranium mining, with immediate effect. The Government’s decision, which has been fully expected ever since the change of government in WA, makes way for the potential exploitation of dozens of uranium deposits across the state.
“It is now open to the mining industry in this state, if they wish to proceed with plans to develop the uranium industry,” Premier Colin Barnett said today.
“It’s significant that Australia has the largest reserves of uranium of any country in the world and is second only to Canada as the major producer and exporter.”
The move would not require legislation because Labor’s previous ban on uranium mining was only administrative, he said. “Both Geoff Gallop and Alan Carpenter talked about a ban on uranium and the like but never introduced any legislation to do it”.
“They simply put in place that administrative caveat on a mining lease; now we are removing that.
“The one practical difficulty we face is that 1475 mining leases have been issued since June 2002 which exclude uranium mining, so the department is now seeking some legal advice.”
Uranium prices have fluctuated over recent years, with a spot price of $US135.00 per pound in June 2007 to $US46 last Friday.
Australia produced and exported just 20 per cent of the world market and demand would continue to rise strongly, Mr Barnett said.
West Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore said he had met with uranium producers since the state election but would not say which companies had shown an interest in mining.
He said proper processes needed to be put in place first.
“The department (of minerals and energy) has met with … counterparts from South Australia and the Northern Territory and the commonwealth and we will put in place quickly the regulatory regime for the mining and transport of uranium,” Mr Moore said.
“There’s a lot of benefits to be had for Western Australia if we have a uranium industry and I’d like to see it happen sooner rather than later.”