September 24, 2010

Australian Government Pledges To Further Expand Australia's Uranium Industry

Published on Friday Sept 24 2010

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson's pledge to further expand Australia's uranium industry is seen by conservationists as a barefaced call to the markets, at the expense of the environment and public health.

Mr Ferguson on Wednesday told the Australian Financial Review newspaper he would "make sure" there was progress on new mines in Western Australia and the Northern Territory in the life of the current parliament.

He also sought to distance himself from the Australian Greens, who supported Labor to form a minority government.

Mr Ferguson denied Labor's refusal to consider nuclear energy was because of the relationship, and attacked the Greens' approach to an emissions trading scheme (ETS) during the last parliament.

Greens senator Scott Ludlam said Mr Ferguson's determination to override environmental processes had him putting investors ahead of the Australian public.

"These processes catch not just risks to the environment but risks during transport, to public health, occupational health and safety, and heritage," he told AAP.

"The minister is quite brazenly telling the market these things will be shouldered aside."

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney said the vow to ramp-up mining contradicted Labor's election promise to preserve the Koongarra area of Kakadu from mining, due to its environmental and cultural importance.

The coalition matched the promise.

Mr Sweeney said it was an admission of the widespread opposition to mining uranium, which he calls "21st century asbestos".

"There is continuing and very strong levels of community concern and indigenous concern and opposition," he said.

He said the minister should focus on improving health and safety at three existing mines - Ranger in the Northern Territory, and Beverley and Olympic Dam in South Australia - before considering expansion.

Meanwhile, conservationists are pleased they have bought more time on the controversial Muckaty waste dump.

The legislation for the dump, which would solve Australia's waste storage problem to the detriment of some traditional owners who oppose the Northern Territory development, must now pass a trickier Lower House.

Traditional owners who oppose the dump have also started Federal Court action.

Senator Ludlam says it's now "far from a done deal".

Mr Sweeney says he's glad the pause button has been hit, and hopes the project will be stopped.

"It was a bad idea born in desperation under the Howard government and kept alive by minister Ferguson," he said.

1 comment:

  1. eToro is the #1 forex trading platform for rookie and pro traders.