Fourth Australian Uranium
Mine on Brink of Going Ahead
Australia's fourth uranium mine is on the brink of going ahead, with
the Federal Government arguing that this intensifies pressure on the
Labor government's no-new-mines policy.
Australia has 30 per cent of the world's known recoverable uranium
reserves, the bulk of this being in South Australia. Two of the three
operating uranium mines are in SA - Olympic Dam and Beverley - with
the other being Ranger in the Northern Territory. A green light for
Honeymoon's operation, combined with the planned AU$5bn expansion
of Olympic Dam, would cement SA's position as a uranium mining hotspot
and lead to huge environmental pressures.
With growing expectation of a change in Labor policy next year, resource
companies told an Adelaide conference in April that there could be
at least another three new uranium mines operating in SA within the
next six years. The Honeymoon deposit, discovered in 1972, is about
75km north-west of Broken Hill, 30km inside SA.
An expectation of a growth in nuclear power has meant that the price
of uranium oxide, crucial in the production of nuclear power, has
shot through the roof. From about $10/lb several years ago, uranium
oxide now costs about $38/lb. It is suspected that this will rise
beyond $100/lb, in the near future.
Over the next decade, US utilities will on average need to buy 1633
tonnes of uranium oxide per year to keep their nuclear power plants
The result of the planned global expansion of nuclear power will be
a massive growth in the volume of waste DU being stored across the
world - particularly in the US and China. Expensive and hazardous
to store, this will increase the pressure to dispose of waste DU through
other means, including DU weapons.
Australia is currently examining the possibility of selling uranium
to India: a country outside of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Increased
sales to China are also on the cards.
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by Depleted Uranium