Anti-uranium activists criticise NSW exploration program

Anti-nuclear campaigners have criticised the NSW government for opening up the state to uranium exploration.

Last week the state government invited six companies to apply for exploration licences.

The move comes two years after NSW overturned a uranium exploration ban. Mining uranium is still restricted. 

Three locations around NSW – near Broken Hill, near Cobar and south of Dubbo – have been earmarked for drilling activity.

Natalie Wasley, spokeswomen for the Beyond Nuclear Initiative, said the decision was disappointing, ABC reported.

"Uranium has very unique and dangerous properties and risks," Wasley said.

"It's linked to the production of the world's most toxic and long-lasting industrial waste, as well as proliferation of the world's most destructive weapons, so it poses a risk to workers, to communities and the environment."

Wasley said the sector will only create a small number of jobs, and claims the risks associated with uranium outweigh any economic benefits.

"We know that in rural and regional areas there's a much better opportunity for long-lasting sustainable jobs in the renewable sector.”

"We'd really encourage those local governments and the state governments to be putting money and resources into developing more creative, long-term and sustainable jobs for people."

Others have welcomed the move, and say opening up exploration in NSW will lead to a cash injection and job creation in the state.

Broken Hill mayor Wincen Cuy said his region would benefit from exploration activities.

"From my point of view we should be exploring every opportunity or every avenue as long as we take up the risks and analyse those against the benefits," Cuy said.

"It's a positive to start off with that it is in and around our area."

Cuy said further community consultation would be required should the ban on uranium mining be overturned in years to come.

"I'd welcome those discussions down the track," Cuy said.

"If nuclear power from the federal government's point of view is on the agenda down the track as well I think those discussions should be had with the community."

The six companies invited to apply for licenses are Australian Zirconia, Callabonna Resources, EJ Resources, Hartz Rare Earths, Iluka Resources and Marmota Energy.

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