MCA: Time to end uranium discrimination

Ranger uranium mine
Ranger uranium mine

Australia is missing out on jobs, investment and regional prosperity because of unfair and discriminatory treatment of uranium mining projects, according to a report commissioned by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA).

New analysis released today by environmental assessment expert Lachlan Wilkinson recommends the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act be reformed to streamline environmental approval of uranium projects while retaining environmental protection.

“The treatment of uranium mining reflects a view within government that it carries special risks that warrant a higher level of regulation than other types of mining,” the report said.

“This has been the accepted position within the Australian Government since the Ranger Inquiry in the mid-1970s.

“It is reflected in the 1997 Council of Australian Governments Heads of agreement on Commonwealth and State roles and responsibilities for the Environment roles on which the EPBC Act is based.”

The report assesses whether the special treatment of uranium mining in the EPBC Act is warranted.

The analysis explores two issues linked to uranium mining: radiation safety and nuclear proliferation.

It found radiation safety is not unique to uranium and is comprehensively assessed and regulated by state bodies, with further federal review adding cost for no added benefit.

And proliferation concerns are dealt with by other legislation and treaties.

The Minerals Council of Australia wants uranium mining to be removed from the nuclear action trigger.

“With the second statutory 10-year review of the EPBC Act due next year, it’s time to end the Act’s discrimination against uranium, which is adding unnecessary delay and cost to uranium projects and handicapping Australia’s world-class uranium industry,” the MCA said.

“Under the EPBC Act, two mines with identical impacts are treated differently merely because of the commodity that is being mined.”

Australia has almost a third of the world’s uranium, yet produces just 10 per cent of world production.