Australian state government bans mining 'forever'

26 July 2011

The government of South Australia has announced its intention to ban mining in perpetuity in the Arkaroola region in the northern part of the state, citing the region's unique character and sensitive environmental, cultural and heritage values. Arkaroola includes the Mt Gee uranium deposit, with estimated indicated and inferred resources totalling over 31,000 tonnes U3O8 (26,300 tU), for which South Australian exploration company Marathon Resources holds an exploration lease. Following the announcement by South Australian premier Mike Rann, Marathon called a trading halt in its listed securities and said that it is taking advice with a view to seeking to redress the impact of the "unprecedented" action. The Arkaroola region will be protected under a three-step process, involving prevention of new exploration and mining titles, followed by special legislation to protect the natural, cultural and landscape values of the area, and finally nomination for listing on the National Heritage List and efforts to nominate it for World Heritage listing. After a period of consultation with stakeholders in the area, the South Australian government plans to introduce a bill enshrining the protection by the end of the year. Michael Angwin, CEO of the Australian Uranium Association, described the move as "a poorly balanced decision which unjustifiably locks away a part of the State for all time."

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