Australia is not taking advantage of its significant uranium resources, speakers at the World Nuclear Fuel Cycle Conference being held in Sydney this week said.
Speaking as anti-nuclear activists staged a vocal protest outside the building, various representatives from the Australian uranium industry spoke about the country’s need to increase mining and exports.
“Think of Australia’s uranium industry as a restaurant: you may not like the service but the food is good,” former chairman of the Uranium Institute Tony Grey said.
According to Grey, Australian socio-political forces, such as the three mines policy and State bans on uranium mining, have been thwarting the industry’s considerable potential and limiting production and exports.
“Australia is a uranium continent, and has consistently punched below its belt in terms of uranium production,” he said.
Australia holds up to 30% of the world’s high-grade economically recoverable uranium.
Michael Angwin, executive director of the Australian Uranium Association, agrees that Australia is mining and exporting far less uranium than it should be.
He said the country could increase its current annual uranium exports of around 10,000 tonnes a year to at least 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes, simply through further developing existing deposits rather than finding new ones.
According to Angwin, nuclear power is a permanent part of the world’s energy future, and Australia must take advantage of its considerable resources.