The Northern Territory government in Australia has approved Energy Resources of Australia’s (ERA’s) proposal for the long-term care and maintenance of the Jabiluka mine. ERA applied on 30 June to the government for approval to backfill the decline, returning the mineralised stockpile and waste rock to the underground mine. Approval was also sought for improved water management.

Bob Cleary, CEO of ERA said: “The traditional owners of Jabiluka, the Mirrar people, have told us they want the backfilling of the decline ­ and this step is evidence of a new era of cooperation with the Mirrar.” Cleary added that ERA is currently working on an agreement with the Mirrar, and the Northern Land Council (NLC), in relation to the long-term care and maintenance of Jabiluka.

In 1991, ERA purchased the Jabiluka mineral lease located some 22km north of the Ranger facilities. This purchase followed an agreement reached in 1982 between previous mineral leaseholder, Pancontinental Mining, and the NLC representing traditional owners to develop the Jabiluka deposit.

In 1999, ERA completed stage one development, which included a 1150m access decline and a further 700m of excavation around the orebody. The 17-hectare Jabiluka project was then placed on standby and environmental care and maintenance. Mineralised material that was removed during development has been stockpiled under cover on the surface since, but will now be backfilled into the decline. ERA has stated that there will be no further development at Jabiluka without the support of the Aboriginal people through their representatives, the NLC.