Ripper puts WA uranium on notice

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While industry has welcomed the ALP’s Sunday decision to permit uranium sales to India, WA Labor leader Eric Ripper has vowed to block the move if he seizes power.

On the weekend the ALP national conference backed Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s move to sell uranium to India 206 votes to 185.

The move sparked an angry response from Ripper, who said no WA Labor representative would approve uranium developments.

"It does not matter how advanced the projects are — I’m putting the industry on notice, you won’t have your final approvals by the time of the next election and they will not be granted if WA Labor is elected," he said.

In a statement yesterday Australian Uranium Association CEO Michael Angwin said the ALP’s decision was “a sign of the increasing maturity of the national conversation about uranium mining and exports”.

“We believe the ALP’s decision is one guided by practical considerations in the national interest and that is a welcome advance beyond the automatic responses of the past,” he said.

Angwin said the uranium industry expected contracts with India to include measures to ensure the country used Australian uranium only for electricity.

Previously Australia only sold uranium to countries that had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which India is not a signatory.

The AUA said uranium trade with India would reap considerable economic rewards for Australia, and would generate around $300 million of sales by 2030.

At the conference yesterday Gillard said it was not “intellectually defensible” for Australia to sell uranium to China but not India, the world’s largest democracy.

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