New South Wales has moved a step closer to developing its first uranium mine, with six companies invited to apply for exploration licences.
Resources and energy minister, Anthony Roberts, said uranium exploration will allow the NSW government to better understand the extent of the state’s reserves and any potential economic benefits.
“Companies that apply for and are granted an exploration licence will only be allowed to perform low-impact exploration and environmental monitoring. Any other activities will require further approvals,” Roberts said.
The move comes two years after NSW overturned a uranium exploration ban. Mining uranium is still restricted.
Three locations around NSW – near Broken Hill, near Cobar and south of Dubbo – have been earmarked for drilling activity.
The six companies invited to apply for licenses are Australian Zirconia, Callabonna Resources, EJ Resources, Hartz Rare Earths, Iluka Resources and Marmota Energy.
"They've got six months to put a licence application in and then we'll move on to the next step of ensuring that drilling practises and so forth are stringently modelled and controlled," Roberts said.
Australia has the largest uranium reserves in the world, boasting 33 per cent of the global resource.
Currently, only South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland Tasmania and the Northern Territory allow uranium exploration and mining.
It is hoped opening up exploration in NSW will lead to a cash injection and job creation in the state.