The Palaszczuk’s government plan to ban uranium mining in Queensland has sent shockwaves through the industry.
The recently instated minster for natural resources and mines, Anthony Lynham, announced the prohibition, which had stood in place from 1982 until 2012, would be brought in again.
Lynham said mining will not take place, but added that exploration is allowed to continue.
“Resource companies can continue to apply for a generic exploration permit for minerals which allows them to explore for all minerals other than coal,’’ he said.
The Queensland Resources Council has urged to government to consult with it and companies with uranium interests before rushing any decision.
QRC chief executive Michael Roche said the state government’s ban meant throwing away about $6 billion worth of recoverable uranium.
Roche said the decision would have major effects on investor confidence in the state.
“It’s very hard to have an on-again, off-again situation for our would-be uranium miners in Queensland,” Roche said.
Summit Resources has spent $40 million over five years exploring for uranium deposits near Mount Isa.
Chief executive Brendan O’Hara was also critical of the way in which the move to ban mining would derail investor confidence.
“If there’s one thing investors need, it’s certainty,” O’Hara said.
“That’s where it undermines your position. It’s not so much an issue today, because the uranium price is thoroughly in the doldrums.”
“But if (the price) were to increase significantly, quickly, you’d need investment funds. Investors hate uncertainty.”
The Queensland government’s decision to ban uranium mining is in stark contrast with South Australian Labor premier Jay Weatherill who last month called for a royal commission into increasing Australia’s uranium industry potential.
West Australia also backs uranium mining, and has approved two mines in the state since overturning its own uranium ban.
The previous Queensland Newman Government overturned the ban soon after being elected, with former premier Campbell Newman stating that strong support for the uranium industry by the Federal Government had helped in the decision.
The following year it released a uranium strategy action plan, which covered the implementation of best practice regulatory framework for uranium mining in the state, environmental standards, safety and health, economic and community development, indigenous opportunities and native title.
It also set up the Uranium Mining Oversight Committee (UMOC) to review and monitor progress against the action plan and take a lead role on technical oversight issues, project governance and delivery time frames.
UMOC was supposed to work closely with key agencies to establish appropriate governance, consultation and engagement mechanisms to support the government's policy framework.
Opposition mines minister Andrew Cripps has questioned the government’s commitment to job creation following the decision.
“(The government) is supposed to be all about jobs. If they have a kneejerk ideological reaction to the development of the uranium industry in Queensland, then they’re not fair dinkum about jobs.”
The move also split opinion on the Australian Mining news site.