10 March 2010 - Uranium Exploration Spikes in Western Australia

 A remarkable 800-plus per cent increase in spending on uranium exploration in Western Australia is the highlight of patchy exploration activity in the final six months of 2009, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The ABS today released half-year uranium exploration statistics showing national spending on track to outstrip the last full year’s results, with $103 million of activity recorded in the first half of 2009-10, compared with $185.2 million spent looking for uranium in the whole of the previous year.

But last year’s result was significantly lower than had been the trend since the middle of the decade, said the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Uranium Association, Mr Michael Angwin.

Exploration activity in the key uranium mining jurisdictions, the Northern Territory and South Australia, continued lower, largely reflecting seasonal factors and the completion or wind-back of large resource-confirmation drilling programs by existing miners.

The spending in different States in the September and December quarters also clearly demonstrated how inconsistent policies on uranium mining among the States resulted in widely different levels of activity.

Mr Angwin noted that $29.3 million was spent on uranium exploration in Western Australia between July and December last year, compared with just $3.1 million in the same period the previous year.

“This is a clear sign that our industry took its lead from the Barnett-Grylls Government’s positive decision to encourage the development of uranium mines,” Mr Angwin said.

“That change of policy from the former ALP Carpenter Government’s prohibitionist approach has had the desirable result of an increase in exploration activity of several hundred per cent,” he said.

The current Labor Opposition in WA should note these encouraging results, Mr Angwin said. “WA Labor’s failure to back uranium mining runs the risk of undermining this activity.

“Similarly, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh’s continuing refusal even to re-examine her party’s uranium mining ban is causing a worrying slow-down in uranium exploration activity,” Mr Angwin said.

Explorers in Queensland spent just an estimated $12.8 million in the six months to December 2009, down $16 million (55 per cent) on the prior corresponding period.

“With the nuclear electricity industry expanding around the world, and international electricity utilities clamouring for our uranium, Premier Bligh’s short-sighted approach is unsustainable,” Mr Angwin said.

“Premier Bligh is sending a ‘closed-for-business’ message to our long-term trading partners, such as Japan, the United States and Europe,” Mr Angwin said.

Uranium exploration activity across Australia in the last six months of 2009 was five per cent lower than in the last half of 2008.

Uranium Exploration: Australia 2004/05 to 2009/10 *

$millions

 

(Year)

Queensland

Western Australia

Northern Territory

South Australia

AUSTRALIA

04/05

0.4

0.3

6.9

13.1 (est)

20.7

05/06

4.6

2.2

19.1

30.3

56.1

06/07

9.0 (est)

11.2 (est)

30.1

63.8

114.1

07/08

38.1

26.8 (est)

48.7

118

231.5

08/09

29.5(est)

28.6(est)

54.5

72.6

185.3

09/10
(1st half)

12.8 (est.)

29.3

24.6

36.3

103

*Exploration in Tasmania is negligible. Exploration is banned in NSW and Victoria

Source: ABS 8412.0