The Minerals Council of Australia welcomes the release of tentative findings by the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission of South Australia.

The findings demonstrate the scale of the economic dividend offered by broader participation in the nuclear fuel cycle from expanded uranium mining through to integrated disposal and storage.

The Commission’s findings also confirm the very important role nuclear energy is performing, and will continue to perform, with respect to the global climate change challenge.

The Royal Commission’s review of the facts has given it a strong base on which to make meaningful recommendations for reform.

The facts are that nuclear power is a well-established, mature technology providing vital, low-emissions, reliable, affordable electricity around the world.

However, Australia’s participation in the global nuclear industry is strangled by regulatory prohibitions and restrictions from a bygone age.

Australia has the largest resources of uranium in the world and is the third largest producer.  But the industry faces bans across the eastern seaboard, constraints on permitted ports from which to export, and duplication of state and federal approvals.

These restrictions affect industry competitiveness and investment attractiveness.  That means less jobs and economic value than would otherwise be the case.  A recent report by Professors Sinclair Davidson and Ashton De Silva estimated that if Australia increased its uranium market share to 30 per cent and nuclear energy comprised around 15 per cent of the energy market, the potential economic contribution would be in the order of an extra $6 billion to $9 billion per year for Australia.

The tentative findings have specifically identified the duplication of state and federal regulatory approval requirements as a significant barrier to the viability of new uranium mine developments.  This increases the anticipated costs of, and timeframes for, regulatory approval for a new uranium mine.

The Commission found that uranium industry growth ‘would represent a significant increase in activity in regional areas with consequent regional impacts on growth and jobs.’

Potential value-adding industries such as enrichment, reprocessing, fuel fabrication or nuclear power generation are currently prohibited, costing Australians potential jobs and economic activity.

Australians expect the efficient and effective regulation of uranium and nuclear industries allowing them to safely operate where it is economic to do so, not bans and restrictions designed to strangle them.

The Royal Commission in South Australia is now in a position to make credible recommendations for reform that would give Australia’s uranium industry a chance to fulfil its potential.

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