Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Planning for the town of Jabiru to be rejuvenated as uranium mining ends

Jabiru: the Kakadu mining town facing closure seeks a fresh start  The town of 1,000 people is supposed to disappear as the Ranger uranium mine closes, but locals want to give it a new future as a tourism hub, Guardian, Helen Davidson, 24 July 17

Jabiru is a small town on a countdown.

Deep inside Kakadu national park, the tiny network of bush-lined streets and a tired shopping precinct was originally built in 1982 to service the community of workers from the Ranger uranium mine. It remains home to just over 1,000 people, a quarter of whom are Indigenous, and serves as a hub for more than 300 people living on nearby outstations.

It has also grown to become a base for the 210,000 odd tourists who visit Kakadu each year, many of them staying at the smattering of caravan parks and crocodile-shaped hotels on their way through.

But Energy Resources Australia is required to wrap up its operations and rehabilitate the site when its lease expires in 2021, after losing the support of its parent company, Rio Tinto, to open another mine.

That means returning the land – including Jabiru – to a pre-mine state, taking the electricity and airport with it.

 Almost no one wants the town to be fully rehabilitated, but in the absence of an alternative plan, ERA is continuing with its obligations to shut it down within four years……..

The uncertainty is already having an impact, with a number of businesses having closed their doors in recent years, unable to secure loans or find buyers without a guaranteed future.

The West Arnhem Regional Council has provided assurances that it will remain in the region, servicing the Indigenous communities.

“Jabiru is the town in this region. There’s nothing else between Coolalinga [near Darwin] and Gunbalanya [in Arnhem Land],” says Justin O’Brien, chief executive of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation.

Gundjeihmi, which represents the Mirarr traditional owners of the park, is working with the federal and territory governments, and ERA, on an alternative plan for the town.

O’Brien is optimistic, and says ERA’s study was based on “full demolition” scenarios.

“They are a narrow focus on what would occur if nothing else happened.”

Last year the Mirarr were legally recognised by the federal court as the native title holders of the land Jabiru sits on, and are negotiating a township lease……

The airstrip, connected to the Ranger mine, has a future three years longer than the town under the current closure plans – it would be demolished in 2025. If it disappeared it would be devastating for the tourism industry, O’Brien says.

“Jabiru and Kakadu might not be kicking the goals in tourism we think it could and should be, but it’s all that’s on offer at the moment. In the peak season it can be difficult getting a bed.”

Bob McDonald, director of Kakadu Air, which has operated from the Jabiru airstrip running scenic flights over Kakadu for 36 years, declines to talk about the report, but tells Guardian Australia he is “extremely optimistic” and the current planning is “a great opportunity for the normalisation of Jabiru”. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jul/24/jabiru-kakadu-mining-town-facing-closure-seeks-fresh-start

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July 24, 2017 - Posted by | environment, Northern Territory

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