POSITIVE STEP FORWARD TO IMPROVE MINING APPROVALS PROCESS IN SA

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) welcomes the release of the South Australian government’s response to the recommendations of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission.

While the government has not supported all 12 recommendations, it has accepted nine of Commissioner Scarce’s recommendations.  The industry commends the Weatherill government in its initiative to maintain the debate on what additional role the state can play in the nuclear fuel cycle.

Importantly, the SA government has advised it supports the recommendation to ‘pursue the simplification of state and federal mining approval requirements for radioactive ores, to deliver a single assessment and approvals process’.  This is an endorsement of the federal government’s one-stop shop reform of the EPBC Act – a reform initiated by the previous federal Labor government, progressed by the Coalition but stalled in the federal parliament.

The SA government’s support for a single assessment and approvals process provides a bipartisan base for a much-needed reform.

The MCA also strongly advocates for the definition of nuclear action to be amended.  Nuclear actions should not include uranium mining, milling decommissioning and rehabilitation.  These are mining related activities and there is no environmental case for uranium mines to be singled out for federal environmental approval purely for being uranium mines.

According to the Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office (ASNO) annual report, the uranium industry exported 8417 tonnes in 2015-16, worth $A926m. This represents 10.7 per cent of global uranium requirements, enough to power 41 typical large reactors, and produce 257TWh of electricity, more than Australia’s entire electricity production.

Reform of the environmental approvals process will allow Australia’s uranium industry to better compete in the global market, ready projects for the market upturn, and allow the industry thereafter to grow export revenue and additional jobs for Australia – all for no environmental cost.

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