Uranium power push

With Australia a major uranium supplier on the world market, why should it hide from a future in nuclear power? This was the view held by Paladin Resources Ltd general manager sales and contracting James Eggins at CEDA’s recent ‘uranium debate’. In his address, Mr Eggins said the adoption of nuclear energy in Australia would be economically viable, with capital costs much less than other forms of electricity generation such as wind power. According to 2005-06 data from the Autralian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics, Australia exports 12,440 tonnes of uranium compared with 111.1 million tonnes of thermal coal. However, Mr Eggins said on an energy-equivalent basis, Australia exports nearly twice as much energy in uranium than in coal. “Australia is the second largest supplier of uranium in the world,” he said. “Total production last year was 49,000 tonnes, which Australia accounted for 11,295 tonnes or 23 per cent of the total. There are 31 countries with nuclear power stations including most of Australia’s major trading partners. Nuclear power is well entrenched throughout the world.” In regards to the issue of nuclear waste disposal, Mr Eggins highlighted programs in other countries such as Finland, which is constructing its fifth nuclear power plant but where disposal is supervised by government and advisory committees. “[Nuclear waste] is very low in volume. Initially it is very radioactive but this element decays over 40 years. The vast amount of electricity generated over 60 years leaves a legacy of a small amount of material, which can be isolated,” he said.

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