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Uranium Mining

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Uranium mining in NSW is an important topic that ought to be the subject of lengthy discussion in the community. Recently New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell announced the Government's decision to overturn the 25-year old ban on uranium extraction within the state. Expert geological advice suggests that there exists within Western NSW many valuable uranium deposits and their extraction may lead to the creation of new regional growth and employment opportunities for Dubbo and surrounding areas. Tapping into our undisturbed uranium deposits has the potential to play a crucial role in the economic rebuilding of NSW with the promise of delivering hundreds if not thousands of job opportunities in regional locations, thereby ploughing real investment into the economies of our major towns and cities and providing a steady stream of badly needed revenue into state coffers courtesy of the mining royalties that would flow from their extraction . It is worth remembering that the West Australian, Queensland and South Australian economies have been the main beneficiaries from the recent mining boom delivering huge profits to their State and creating hundreds of jobs. It should be pointed out that the Government intends directing the  revenue generated from future uranium mining  towards funding the road, rail, hospital and other important infrastructure this State has needed for so long and been neglected under Labor's sixteen years of relative inactivity in this area . The NSW Government has received advice that potential uranium deposits may exist around the Broken Hill area based upon similar resources that have been located on the other side of the South Australian border. We aim to encourage more people to move into regional NSW because this is where the future of the State's prosperity truly lies, offering attractive job opportunities that people will want to secure for their own and their family's well being.

 

The community should not be concerned.  The Government is not about to rush headlong into uranium extraction without having carried out extensive environmental testing and exploration checks.  We must first of all engage with the community by having   sensible and practical discussions about how best we can manage this under utilised resource. We need to consider the ongoing viability of a uranium mining industry and its capacity to secure jobs and revenue for NSW.  Uranium exploration and mining presents many opportunities and challenges for Western NSW and elsewhere across the state and the process will involve a great many steps. The size, quality and location of potential uranium deposits will require careful consideration by policymakers. The NSW Government is committed to protecting the environment and will ensure that uranium exploration is subject to the same stringent safeguards and be governed within the same regulatory framework that all other mineral resources are subject to. Community consultation is a crucial part of the process. I intend to facilitate public meetings throughout the electorate of Dubbo enabling those who wish to give voice to their views on the subject opportunities to contribute to the debate.

 

We owe it to future generations to secure the best outcome from the use of this State's precious mineral resources.  Lifting the ban on uranium exploration is the responsible course of action for the NSW Government to take in this instance.  We would not be looking after our economic future properly were we not to act upon the opportunity this presents given the current uncertainty in the global economy.  

 

 

It is worth noting that the presence of uranium in Australia was known about since the 1890s.  Uranium was first mined in South Australia from 1906. A refinery in Sydney processed the Radium Hill ore between 1911 and 1915 for radium bromide and uranium. Radium was used for medical research and also mined at Mount Painter in South Australia. Serious uranium exploration started in 1944 after requests from the United States and United Kingdom governments and in 1948 tax concessions were offered by the Commonwealth for successful discoveries. Sixteen percent of the world’s energy is generated using uranium.  Uranium has displaced coal in many countries for power generation. Uranium is also used to produce medical isotopes for cancer treatments with Australia producing over half a million patient doses annually.

 

Uranium mining and exploration has received bipartisan support at a Federal level and a number of States have the capacity to mine and explore for uranium. The Commonwealth Government called on the NSW Government to consider lifting its ban last year. I encourage each of you to join the debate on the future of uranium mining in NSW.

 

 

 

 


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