The Asia Miner

SEP-OCT 2014

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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38 | ASIA Miner | September/October 2014 Australian Uranium IN these uncertain times Australia's uranium industry has been battling a diffcult short-term market to prepare for the profound and inevitable growth ahead. The case for nuclear energy around the world and the continued development of uranium resources to fuel that energy grows by the day. The three great challenges of our age and the years ahead are main- taining the drive for global economic growth and development, continu- ing the alleviation of energy poverty and scarcity to facilitate that growth, and doing this in a manner which maintains the habitability of our natural environment. Uranium powered nuclear energy is absolutely critical in meeting these challenges. Uranium facilitates stable, reliable, affordable base- load electricity with near zero emissions. Its enormous energy density means very little of it is required to generate vast amounts of electrici- ty; leaving behind a small and manageable environmental footprint. In 2012/13 Australia exported 8391 tonnes of uranium – around 40 stan- dard containers per month – and this small volume in terms of energy, was equivalent to Australia's entire production of electricity. This reality is seen in projections of all major energy forecasters. The OECD's International Energy Agency estimates across its three scenar- ios that nuclear power generation will grow between 51% and 126% from 2011 to 2035. Its 450 degree scenario, showing what it takes to keep the energy system on track for half a chance of limiting average global temperature to a 2 degree increase, requires a more than dou- bling of nuclear powergen. The US Energy Information Administration has similar projections with nuclear power generation basically doubling between 2010 and 2035. Clearly, the more the world continues on its path of economic growth, centred on rapid industrialization and urbanization in emerging econo- mies, while seeking to minimise climate change, air pollution and other environmental impacts, the more signifcant a role nuclear power will have to play. Australia's uranium industry is well placed to play a leading role in facilitating the expanding global nuclear industry. It is well known that Australia hosts more than 30% of the world's known low cost recoverable uranium resources. However, it currently only produces around 11-12% of the world's total production. This in itself under- pins a tremendous opportunity. As global nuclear power generation rises, Australia has the natural resource capacity to grow both vol- umes and market share. But a massive natural endowment is not enough. For industries to thrive, they need to be accepted in their communities and that ac- ceptance is based on good performance, sound regulation and deal- ing with concerns of stakeholders. In Australia, the uranium industry has worked hard for its social licence. It has built a record of excellent worker and public safety, good environmental practices and excellent transportation management. At Australian uranium operations radiation management is the top pri- ority with respect to worker and public health and safety. All of Austra- lia's current uranium mines closely monitor and report exposure levels. All consistently track well below the legislated limits both on average, and maximum individual measured. In addition, the federal regulator ARPANSA hosts a National Dose Register with more than 31,000 registered workers in the database stating the "Data available to ARPANSA at this point in time does not indicate any negative trends". ARPANSA also tracks radiation incidents across all industries and there have been none in mining since at least 2008. Australians also expect industries to have sound environmental prac- tices. In South Australia's uranium industry, all incidents are publicly re- ported and available on line. In the Northern Territory, the Ranger mine has its own independent supervisor whose 2012/13 annual report con- cludes "During the year there were no reported incidents that resulted in any environmental impact to the surrounding environment" and that "the environment has remained protected through the period". Previous annual reports contain similar statements. And fnally, the transportation record of the industry is excellent. Ura- nium transportation has operated seamlessly for more than three de- cades now. There have been no incidents affecting public health involv- ing a spillage of uranium oxide during transport in Australia in the export of more than 11,000 containers. The good and improving record has resulted in substantial political and social progress for the uranium industry in Australia. Today, there is broad bipartisan political support at the federal level. While the Labor party has for several decades opposed the industry, in offce between 2007 and 2013, it approved four new mines and reversed its decision regarding engagement with India on a bilateral agreement for uranium supply. Around the states, Western Australia and Queensland reversed long bans on uranium mining while NSW has removed the ban on uranium Minerals Council of Australia executive director of uranium Daniel Zavattiero. Australian uranium – busy preparing for the future By Daniel Zavattiero, executive director of uranium for the Minerals Council of Australia

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