15/04/2009 - 22:00

Soft infrastructure the key for uranium

15/04/2009 - 22:00

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FOLLOWING Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson's endorsement of Australian uranium export trade with China, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy believes working with communities on providing soft infrastructure will be the key challenge facing the st

Soft infrastructure the key for uranium

FOLLOWING Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson's endorsement of Australian uranium export trade with China, the Chamber of Minerals and Energy believes working with communities on providing soft infrastructure will be the key challenge facing the state's uranium industry.

"Regulation is not the key issue, but working with communities will be," chief executive Reg Howard-Smith said.

Mr Howard-Smith said WA had about five years to make the preparations needed to support the growing uranium industry.

"It's going to take about four years for projects to be in operation, but the Australian Uranium Association is predicting a 38 per cent increase in value of exports over the next four to five years," Mr Howard-Smith said.

The association believes there are 436 nuclear power plants operating worldwide, with 44 new plants underway and 272 proposed

It said these figures confirmed the uranium trade would grow considerably in response to increasing demand for nuclear energy as a reliable, climate friendly source of electricity.

Department of Mines and Petroleum director of mineral titles Roy Burton said global demand for power, greenhouse gas emissions from coal fired power and long-term power costs are driving increasing global demand for uranium.

Mr Burton said the prohibition on uranium mining by the previous Labor government, along with the Federal government's three-mines policy, which restricted uranium mining to those already in existence - Ranger, Olympic Dam and Nabarlek - was not conducive to exploration.

He said the current uranium policy could lead to an expansion of the 45 known uranium deposits in WA.

"Nobody can really say yet what deposits are out there, but the known deposits could be increased in size, and new ones could be developed as well," Mr Burton said.

Australian Minerals and Energy managing director Chris Davis is confident the company will move into production in 2013, despite a pending Supreme Court decision over ownership of its tenements. The company owns three of WA's most significant deposits at the Mulga Rocks tenements 250 kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie.

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