QUEENSLAND’s ban on uranium mining will be lifted, with the Newman government confirming the decades-long prohibition is to be axed.
The announcement came after ministers discussed a uranium policy review at their cabinet meeting at Goondiwindi this morning. A three-member implementation committee will oversee the resumption of uranium mining.
Premier Campbell Newman said Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s recent trip to India to discuss the sale of Australian-produced uranium prompted “many in the community to ask about the industry’s potential in Queensland”.
“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,” he said in a statement issued this afternoon.
Queensland allows uranium exploration but mining is banned.
In the lead-up to the election, Mr Newman said the Liberal National Party had no plans to develop uranium mines in Queensland, insisting there were other issues in the mining and resources sector that had a higher priority.
“We have absolutely no plans or desire to approve uranium mines in Queensland at this time,” he said in November 2011.
In June this year, federal Labor Resources Minister Martin Ferguson called on Queensland to lift its uranium mining ban.
“The Australian government urges Queensland to take the next step and to also remove its ban on uranium mining, given that it already permits exploration and has an estimated resource base of at least 37,000 tonnes,” Mr Ferguson told a conference.
Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said Queensland’s known uranium deposits were worth an estimated $10 billion.
He said the industry had enormous potential to support economic growth, particularly in regional north Queensland.
Mr Cripps said the Newman government would not consider nuclear energy production or nuclear waste disposal plants in Queensland as part of the move towards uranium mining.
The government says uranium mining has not occurred in Queensland since 1982 and has been effectively banned since the election of the Goss government in 1989.
The government-appointed committee will prepare a report within three months.
Earlier, Mt Isa mayor and former Queensland Labor mines minister Tony McGrady said he hoped Mr Newman would lift the uranium mining ban.
“This could be the start of another resources boom in Queensland,” Mr McGrady said.
“The world is hungry for uranium. Queensland has it. Let’s sell it,” he said.
“Every other state and territory in this Commonwealth which has commercial deposits of uranium is allowed to mine and export … all except Queensland.”
Mr McGrady said 1000 jobs could flow from the state’s two known deposits, one outside Mt Isa and the other on the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The state’s last uranium mine, Mary Kathleen, closed in 1982.
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