The Asia Miner

SEP-OCT 2014

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

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September/October 2014 | ASIA Miner | 39 Australian Uranium exploration. All states bar Victoria now allow uranium exploration and all bar Victoria and NSW accept uranium mining. Recent polling in South Australia showed 55% supported uranium mining compared to only 25.5% opposed. These are net approval ratings politicians dream about. And in line with the nu- clear energy's increasing acceptance, 62.9% believed nuclear power to be either an important contributor or an alternative to be considered in the debate about climate change. Australia has become and is becoming a more attractive investment destination for ura- nium exploration and mine development, and a more attractive long-term contract customer for nuclear utilities abroad seeking stable and reliable uranium supply. The Federal Government led by Prime Min- ister Abbott, which was elected in September 2013, is looking to streamline the administration of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), in order to make project approvals more effcient without compromising high environmental standards. The government's proposed 'one-stop- shop' for environmental approvals will create a single environmental assessment and approv- al process for nationally protected matters. This will lead to swifter decisions and improve Australia's investment climate for mining in general, including uranium projects. Progress in recent years in terms of industry performance, social and political acceptance, and the coming regulatory adjustments to project approval processes, position Austra- lia's uranium industry well for the future. In- deed, it is the state of the current depressed market, rather than historical controversies, which the industry must work through to reap the opportunities ahead. The post Fukushima period has seen Jap- anese reactors stay off line for longer than expected and China adjust its nuclear reactor construction profle. However, both these fac- tors appear now to be moderating. Japan has reorganized its regulatory regime and has 19 reactors applications before the new regulator awaiting approval to restart. Two reactors at Sendai have just been given draft approval. The Japanese government has reaffrmed its commitment to nuclear energy labelling it 'an important base-load electricity source', and expectations are some reactors will be on line before the years end. China's construction is back in full swing with 20 reactors operating and a further 28 under construction. Forecasts suggest China will have 58 GWe of nuclear capacity by 2020, up from 17 currently and enroute to 150-200 by 2030. This bodes well for Australia's future urani- um mines which over the next decade should see new operations coming on from Western Australia initially, and then Queensland, to add to the current production coming out of South Australia and the Northern Territory. NSW will likely follow thereafter. There is no question it is tough right now but Australia's uranium industry is positioning well for the growth ahead. Daniel Zavattiero is responsible for man- aging uranium specifc issues following the integration of the Australian Uranium Asso- ciation into the Minerals Council of Australia. He has more than 20 years' management experience in the resource sector, span- ning multiple commodities including iron ore, base metals and uranium in Australia, Singapore and the Netherlands. He has a Bachelor of Economics with Honours from Monash University.

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