Outdated government thinking has made it difficult for Queensland to take advantage of its abundant uranium reserves, Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Michael Roche told MINING DAILY.
According to Roche, the fears of nuclear proliferation that have traditionally plagued uranium still hold sway in Queensland’s Government and have made it difficult for the industry to move forward in the State.
“There are some residual concerns unfortunately still held very dearly in parts of the Queensland Australian Labor Party branch,” he said.
“It is a very difficult issue for the present Labor party to grapple with.”
Despite these fears held within the party, Roche believes that there is also support for uranium mining in the Government’s ranks.
“There are very strong advocates for uranium mining in the Queensland Labor party, just as there are people whose views were shaped in the 1970s and who haven’t really moved on,” he said.
“That is the conundrum and Anna Bligh has to pick her way through those competing views.”
Regardless of the feelings that exist within the Queensland Government, there is support on the ground for overturning the State’s long held ban on uranium mining, Roche said.
A 2008 QRC opinion poll conducted in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Townsville and Mt. Isa found that 85% of respondents felt that uranium mining in Queensland was inevitable.
According to Roche, support for uranium mining in some parts of the State is very significant.
“In an area such as the North-West mineral province, the support for uranium mining is overwhelming,” he said.
Roche said that the people in the North-West see that major metals mines in the area, namely the Osborne and Century mines, have limited lives and are wondering where employment will come from when they close in coming years.
“With those large, world class metal mines coming to the end of their lives the people of the North-West are saying, ‘where is the next generation of mines?’
“These people see the jobs from uranium.”
Regardless of the obstacles being faced in Queensland Roche believes that now is a very positive time for uranium, and that on the back of Federal support and well established trade partners in China the industry is poised to make a big move forward.
“I think this is probably the best position the Australian uranium industry has been in for some decades,” he said.