Uranium deal celebrated by 'delighted' minister

24 July 2009

Australia may still have a policy against the generation of nuclear power at home, but its government is nevertheless in favour of exploiting its vast uranium reserves.


As a joint venture agreement for the development of the Lake Maitland deposit was signed off yesterday, minister for resources and energy Martin Ferguson said he was "delighted" that investment from abroad "will help develop our uranium assets."

"With around 40% of the world's commercially viable uranium," Ferguson expounded, "Australia has an obligation to develop those resources in a way that achieves a cleaner global energy outcome."


 "Concerns related to
  climate change and
  energy security are set
  to drive increased
  demand for Australian
  uranium in the years
  ahead. The Australian
  government strongly
  supports the expansion
  of uranium mining in
  Australia as it will bring
  significant economic
  benefit to Australians
  and play a major role in
  international efforts to
  reduce carbon dioxide


  Martin Ferguson
  Australian minister for
  resources and energy

Given environmental approval, Lake Maitland is set to be developed by a joint venture of Australia-based Mega Uranium and the Japan Australia Uranium Resources Development consortium. The deposit, in Western Australia, contains 10,750 tonnes of uranium oxide.
Ferguson's excitement comes just ten days after a new uranium mine was given approval by environment minister Peter Garrett. Formerly a leading activist fighting uranium mining amongst other things, Garrett had no choice but to approve the mine in line with Labor Party policy and the fact that he was certain the Four Mile mine would pose "no credible risk to the environment."
There has been much debate on nuclear power and uranium in Australian media over in recent days. The Australian Uranium Conference took place in Perth and gained media coverage, while Ferguson's department is accepting submissions towards a discussion paper on energy with several pro-nuclear viewpoints represented.


These events come just one week ahead of the Labor Party conference at which a stance to prohibit the building of nuclear power plants is on the party's platform. The government will come under pressure to justify its anti-nuclear, pro-uranium position in the light of a need for significant and lasting cuts in emissions.