Australia's uranium industry pushes forward
Australia's uranium industry has been in the spotlight recently, with the nation's vast resources and the high levels of global demand a great economic opportunity for Australia.
Uranium is a heavy metal which is used to fuel nuclear reactors and produce energy. While Australia is nuclear power free, it exports uranium to other nations. According to the World Nuclear Association, over 13 per cent of the world's electricity is generated from uranium in nuclear reactors.
In Australia, the uranium industry needs to work with all levels of government to help meet the world's demand for this resource, according to federal minister for resources and energy Gary Gray.
On June 11, Mr Gray told an audience of the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy's international conference held in Darwin that Australia needs new uranium mines.
"We need industry to commit to further development of new projects to ensure that our uranium production meets global demand, particularly as demand for uranium is likely to surpass current supply," said Mr Gray.
"Uranium exploration and mining have particular characteristics that make its exploitation complex. Parliament and industry must work together to ensure that mining, processing, commercial and regulatory actions represent best practice and encourage the growth of the uranium industry."
The House of Representatives' Standing Committee on Industry and Resources has started on politically bi-partisan work which makes recommendations on how the uranium industry can grow in Australia.
As uranium and nuclear power stand as slightly controversial issues, recommendations from the Committee cover skills, worker safety, elevating uranium mining to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), indigenous engagement as well as international safeguards.
Mr Gray stated that his predecessor, Martin Ferguson, was remarkably successful in establishing the Uranium Council.
The Council's mission is to maintain progressive and sustainable development of uranium exploration, mining, milling, transport logistics and export and establishing nationally consistent best practice standards
This to ensure that Australia's industry is taken seriously internationally as a safe, sustainable and responsible one.
For example, Mr Gray referenced the Australian National Radiation Dose Register, which collates and monitors data to protect wildlife and the environment at uranium mining sites. There is also a Guide to Safe Transport of Uranium Oxide Concentrate, a Uranium Transport Strategy.
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Posted by Charlie Moore