Published on Wednesday June 13 2012 (AEST)
RESOURCES Minister Martin Ferguson will today call on Queensland's new conservative government to lift its ban on uranium mining, arguing it already allows exploration and that Australia is on track to triple its exports by 2030. In a speech to an international uranium conference in Adelaide this morning, Mr Ferguson will ask Premier Campbell Newman to overturn his pre-election promise to ban uranium mining, arguing the state already has an estimated resource base of at least 37,000 tonnes.
With global demand expected to grow strongly, Mr Ferguson will argue that uranium exports present a major opportunity for the nation. His call to the Queensland government comes after former Labor premier Anna Bligh resisted calls for uranium mining to be allowed in her state. Mr Ferguson's push follows the NSW government's decision to lift its ban on uranium exploration in March, which Mr Ferguson said might pave the way for future legislation to allow the mining of any discoveries. In his speech, Mr Ferguson predicts global population growth and increased industrialisation, combined with continuing efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, will continue to drive demand for cheap and reliable energy supplies. Nuclear power would inevitably be a part of this.
"The world cannot ignore its great advantage of helping to lower carbon emissions while fostering economic growth," Mr Ferguson will say. Australia is the world's third largest uranium producer with exports worth $610 million in 2010-11 and, with the nation having 33 per cent of the world's identified recoverable uranium resources, "there is a potential to climb even higher in the global export standings". Mr Ferguson says Australia is working to improve access to international markets, negotiating a bilateral agreement with the United Arab Emirates as well as working on a change in government policy to allow uranium sales to India.
Mr Ferguson will argue that, while countries such as Switzerland and Germany have decided to remove nuclear energy from their energy mix following Japan's Fukushima meltdown last year, other countries such as France, Britain, the UAE, Russia and China have already recommitted to its use.