Australian opposition lifts uranium mining ban

1 May 2007

A ban on new uranium mines has been lifted by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) at its National Conference in Sydney.

In a statement the Federal Labor party said it had “removed its current ban on new uranium mines while reinvigorating safeguards on its use and the strengthening safety measures for workers in the uranium industry in Australia.” The party said that, if elected to the Federal government it will actively pursue more effective international export control regimes through the IAEA and tighter controls on the transfer of nuclear technology, ensuring that Australian uranium is only sold under the strictest conditions and safeguards.

The party is in opposition to the Federal government but it controls all of the six states and two territories and has said that the state governments maintain their right to approve or reject any proposed new mines. In addition, the party has said that it remains opposed to the development of a nuclear industry in Australia, including the establishment of nuclear power plants and all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle except mining.

”The challenge for Australia is to tackle climate change through an energy mix of gas, clean coal and renewables. Labor’s policy will deliver that cleaner and safe energy mix by building on our natural resource advantages,” a statement from the party says.

The motion was put forward by party leader Kevin Rudd, lifting a 25-year ban from the party, although the state premiers of Western Australia and Queensland, which hold most uranium reserves, said they would continue to oppose new uranium developments.

The new policy came as Prime Minister John Howard announced plans to boost the country’s uranium industry. In June last year, Howard announced the appointment of a Taskforce to undertake an objective, scientific and comprehensive review of uranium mining, processing and nuclear energy.

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