With Queensland drumming up support for getting back into the uranium business, mines minster Andrew Cripps has not ruled out the prospect of exporting the radioactive resource from Queensland ports.
A statement from Queensland government yesterday said the Government had a “preference” for uranium to be exported from existing licensed ports.
Australia has only two licensed ports for the export of uranium, being Port Adelaide in South Australia (receiving ore from Olympic Dam), and Darwin in the Northern Territory (shipping ore from Ranger).
Cripps said that the Queensland government would be willing to consider licensing a port within the state for shipping uranium.
Well if an application comes forward to assess a port for the export of uranium oxide, I mean, we’ll take it and we’ll assess it,” he said.
Cripps said it was a “commercial reality that the volumes of material that (would) be produced are quite small in comparison to other resource projects”.
The minister also said uranium would only be exported to countries that have a bilateral agreement with Australia and only for peaceful purposes and nuclear energy production.
The Queensland government yesterday announced it will accept applications for uranium mining in the state, where it has been banned since 1983, although premier Newman lifted the ban in 2012, contrary to his campaign pledges during the state election.
The Queensland government has invited tenders to reopen the Mary Kathleen mine, which has been closed since 1982.
Mary Kathleen is near Mt Isa in Northern Queensland, and bears rare earth elements such as lanthanum, cerium, praesodymium, neodymium, as well as uranium, all of which are present in tailings waiting to be processed.
Presently there are 7 million tonnes of tailings left at the Mary Kathleen mine, with an estimated 3 per cent rare earth purity.
Minerals from the Mary Kathleen mine are used to make batteries, diesel additives, pyrolytic ovens, camera lenses, and welding lenses.
Queensland Resource Council (QRC) CEO Michael Roche said the resumption of uranium mining in the state would support jobs and economic growth in the future.
"Essentially the state government has invited prospective uranium developers to to make their case," he said.
"The framework released today is the product of two years of meticulous review and provides a solid framework for assessing and regulating uranium mining."
According to QRC, current estimates value known uranium resources in Queensland at $18 billion.