30/07/2008 - 22:00

Miners push uranium barrow

30/07/2008 - 22:00

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Players in Australia's uranium industry have renewed calls for the federal government to take control of the future of the country's rich uranium deposits.

Players in Australia's uranium industry have renewed calls for the federal government to take control of the future of the country's rich uranium deposits.

At a conference in Fremantle last week, Western Australian uranium explorers and miners led the charge of companies from across the country in expressing dissatisfaction at current laws that prohibit uranium mining in WA and Queensland, but not in the other states and territories.

State opposition leader Troy Buswell used the conference to spruik uranium mining, saying he would actively encourage new exploration and would lift the current moratorium on mining if his party was elected to office.

Managing director of West Perth-based uranium exploration company Scimitar Resources, Terry Topping, said the state government's 'no uranium' policy was depriving WA of a lucrative commodity.

"There is no doubt that the federal government needs to take control," Mr Topping told WA Business News.

He said the state government's concerns that WA would become a nuclear waste dump if it mined uranium were misguided.

The Nuclear Waste Storage (Prohibition) Act, passed in 1999, prohibits nuclear waste dumps in WA, he said.

Managing director of West Perth-based Thundelarra Exploration, Brett Lambert, said uranium companies were frustrated by misconceptions about the industry.

"It's disappointing as a West Australian to see the government not taking advantage of the mineral wealth it's been blessed with," Mr Lambert told WA Business News.

The no uranium policy has led companies including West Perth-based Jackson Minerals, WildHorse Energy, and Paladin Energy to exploit uranium reserves overseas in Argentina, Hungary and southern Africa.

An independent economic assessment by Deloitte calculated that WA could be missing out on up to $5 billion (net present value) in gross state product by 2030, if the mining and exporting of uranium is not permitted.

The premier, who did not attend the two-day conference, would not comment on the issue.

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