Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s threatened water resources, and the uranium mining risk

water-drops (for more Australian news, go to

What impact is uranium mining having on our water?

The Advertiser, by Jim Green, 25 july 09

ENVIRONMENT Minister Peter Garrett buttressed his decision last week to approve in situ leach (ISL) uranium mining at Beverley Four Mile with the claim that he is “certain this operation poses no credible risk to the environment”.

Thus Mr Garrett adds another chapter to the history of spin surrounding ISL mining.

Environmental debates typically revolve around differing assessments of the possibility of environmental contamination.

But with ISL mining, environmental pollution – specifically contamination of groundwater with radionuclides, heavy metals and acid – is a certainty.

ISL mining involves pumping an acidic solution into an aquifer, dissolving the uranium ore and other heavy metals and pumping the solution back to the surface.

After the uranium has been separated, liquid radioactive waste is simply dumped in the aquifer. Isolation and containment of the pollutants would not be difficult or expensive, but the mining companies will take the cheaper option of polluting groundwater for as long as the politicians let them……………………

A 2003 Senate References and Legislation Committee report recommended banning the discharge of radioactive liquid mine waste to groundwater. ISL uranium mining is used at the Beverley uranium mine and it is the mining method proposed for Beverley Four Mile, Oban and Honeymoon.

The future of this mining technique is plain to see: short-lived mines leaving SA with a legacy of polluted aquifers.

Spills and leaks are common at ISL mines. The SA Department of Primary Industry and Resources lists 59 spills at Beverley from 1998 to 2007.

Serious questions must be raised as to BHP Billiton’s capacity to safely manage radioactive tailings at Olympic Dam if, as planned, tailings production increases sevenfold to 68 million tonnes annually and water consumption increases to more than 250 million litres daily.

BHP Billiton pays nothing for its massive water take for the Olympic Dam mine, despite recording a $17.7 billion profit in 2007-8. That arrangement is enshrined in the Roxby Downs Indenture Act 1982………

……… The Indenture Act provides a raft of exemptions and overrides from the SA Natural Resources Act 2004, the Environment Protection Act 1993, the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 and even the Freedom of Information Act 1991.

BHP Billiton and the Rann Government are currently engaged in secret discussions over the future of the Indenture Act.

July 25, 2009 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, uranium | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Mr Green right! This mine no good, I tell my friend she buy Petratherm shares no good, same people pollute land and dont care, someone else clean up doesnt matter. This Garret on China payroll like mate, big cars and plane but no brains!! My friend no know, she sell her shares buy holiday for kids!


    Comment by Pong Mau | July 27, 2009 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: