Australian news, and some related international items

South Australia’s Liberals keen to weaken health and safety laws on uranium

Push to cut green tape for new uranium mines in South Australia,

29 Dec 19  “Unnecessary” green tape is choking the potential for lucrative new uranium mines in South Australia, the State Government says.

The Marshall Government is calling for Canberra to slash federal environmental approvals to pave the way for new mines as a once in a decade review of the nation’s environmental laws gets underway.

SA already has four of the country’s six uranium mines, which have produced 24,300 tonnes and $2.1 billion worth of uranium over five years.

But SA has made a submission to a federal inquiry into nuclear power calling for Canberra to axe the requirement for Commonwealth environmental approvals, in addition to state approvals, for new uranium mines.

It argues the removal of this duplication “will not diminish existing standards of regulation safety and compliance and will increase efficiency, reduce costs bourne by industry”.

It would also boost SA’s status as a “favourable investment destination”.

The submission notes “unnecessary” extra green tape is a “significant barrier to the viability of new uranium mine developments” in SA.

It also calls for changes to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to remove the ‘nuclear action trigger’ for uranium and other mines with naturally occurring radioactive minerals, to stop the need for federal approvals.

SA will push for the power to go it alone in a once in a decade review of the EPBC Act, currently being conducted by former ACCC chair Graeme Samuel.

A state government spokesman said SA wanted the federal and state approval duplications removed “so costs can be reduced and economic benefits increased”.

“The nature of our State’s geology means radioactive impurities found in other productive ores are inadvertently captured by the nuclear action trigger, and the review is an important opportunity to address this anomaly,” he said.

Two of SA’s uranium mines are operational, while Boss Resource’s Honeymoon mine is in the process of restarting.

BHP has also discovered copper, which uranium could potentially be found near, at the Oak Dam site 65km from its existing Olympic Dam mine.

New Liberal senator for SA Alex Antic has called for SA to look at using nuclear power generation along with a nuclear fuel waste storage facility, saying it could add

“billions of dollars from our participation in the nuclear fuel cycle”.

The state government’s submission said nuclear power was “unviable now and into the foreseeable future” in SA but noted it could be used in remote mining if small modular reactor technology advanced, although the state was currently looking at renewables with power storage for those situations.

The submission also highlighted that nuclear power could be viable in other states, which would create more demand for SA’s “significant” uranium deposits.

Senator Antic welcomed the possibility of next generation nuclear power technologies playing a role in SA’s future energy grid.

He hit out at nuclear power critics, saying: “Those who tell us that we are in the middle of a climate emergency can’t have their ideological cake and eat it too.”

“Nuclear power has proven to be virtually emission free, reliable, and safe.”

SA Chamber of Mines & Energy chief executive Rebecca Knol welcomed the call to slash “unnecessary duplication” of approvals, saying it could save an estimated $426 million in regulatory and operational costs.

It could help SA achieve its 3 per cent annual growth target, she said.

Mr Samuel is due to report to federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley by October.

A spokesman for the Minister said she had been clear that “stringent environmental protection” was fundamental to any review outcomes.


December 30, 2019 - Posted by | politics, South Australia

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