Australian Government to rehabilitate historic uranium mine

The Australian Government has allocated $3.5 million to rehabilitate the Rum Jungle copper and uranium mine in the Northern Territory.

The rehabilitation is part of  the Australian government’s 2021-22 Budget.

The rehabilitation plan will take 11 years after  environmental assessment and approval is completed.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the allocation of funds in this budget is just a small part of a much larger process.

“The site’s rehabilitation plan follows 10 years of detailed design work and collaboration between the Australian and NT Governments, the Kungarakan and Warai traditional owners, and local stakeholders,” Pitt said.

“It is aimed to maximise long-term and sustainable environmental improvements to the old mine site.”

The plan will focus on using local indigenous vegetation and the proper treatment of waste storage structures.

“The rehabilitation plan addresses feedback from traditional owners, sacred site custodians and other stakeholders. Work will get underway once the plan receives an expected environmental approval later this year,” Pitt said.

According to Minister for indigenous Australians Key Wyatt, the 11-year project is expected to create 61 full-time jobs.

“Rehabilitation works will create sustainable and long-term jobs in engineering, civil construction, land management and environmental monitoring, as well as indirect jobs from supply contractors,” Wyatt said.

“The rehabilitation project will include on-the-job training opportunities for local Indigenous communities, including in civil construction and security, and will provide ongoing careers in conservation land management.

The main objective, Wyatt stressed, will be to transform the site into a safe, stable and sustainable one for the Kungarakan and Warai people.

Rum Jungle began uranium and copper production in the 1954 and was shut in 1971.

After $50 million (current day estimates) was spent on the rehabilitation between 1983 and 1986, some assessments put the cost of future clean-ups at $300 million.

Upon abandoning the site, about 640,000 tonnes of tailings were discharged and about 100 square kilometres of floodplains were damaged.

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