Uranium policy threatens climate credibility

The gulf between the Queensland and Federal Governments over uranium mining was in danger of threatening Australia’s credibility as a climate change policy leader, Queensland Resources council chief executive Michael Roche has said.

Roche’s comments followed Queensland Mines and Energy Minister Geoff Wilson’s questioning of the ‘independence’ of a Deloitte Insight Economics report into the outlook for uranium mining in Australia.

“The Minister is 100% correct in saying that it was commissioned by the Australian Uranium Association,” Roche said.

“It is also 100% correct that the report was publicly welcomed and launched by his Federal counterpart, the Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson.”

In welcoming the release of what he described as ‘valuable research’ on 16 May 2008, Ferguson also emphasised the strength of the Rudd Government’s conditions surrounding the mining and export of Australian uranium including:

“Australian uranium will only ever be used for peaceful purposes and we have a robust safeguards system to ensure this is the case

“We will also ensure our uranium mines are subject to the highest environmental and safety standards, based on world’s best practice and we will work to strengthen occupational health and safety requirements for uranium workers.

“We will ensure the Australian community — particularly the indigenous community — receive their fair share of the economic and social benefits which arise from this sector’s growth

“We are serious about these goals which is why we have committed $10.6 million over four years in the Budget to underpin these goals, and why we are continuing to implement the Uranium Industry Framework (UIF).”

Roche said Ferguson’s endorsement of the important contribution the uranium industry can make to underpin Australia’s future economic prosperity and to support global efforts to address climate change was echoed in the findings of a QRC Resource Report on Queensland uranium released earlier this week.

“As well as underwriting a multi-billion dollar investment and jobs expansion in the north and north west of the state, it’s estimated that Queensland uranium exported for nuclear power generation could in 2030 alone, avoid the annual production of some 120 million tonnes of carbon dioxide,” he said.

“That 120 million tonnes is equivalent to around 70% of Queensland’s 2006 greenhouse gas emissions, as reported last week in the official greenhouse inventory.

“The Queensland Government’s reportedly ‘unwavering’ opposition to uranium mining would appear to be on the grounds rejected by the Federal Labor Government and the Federal Labor Party president, Premier Mike Rann.

“While South Australia and the Northern Territory have been given the go-ahead to embrace the uranium mining and export opportunities presented by a global surge in nuclear power production, Queensland has been left at the gate, weighed down by ideological baggage from another era.”

Roche said the QRC and member companies proving up the state’s world class uranium deposits would continue their leadership role in informing Queenslanders about uranium mining and the contributions it could make from economic, social and environmental perspectives.


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