21 March 2011 - Uranium sales not likely to be affected by Japan emergency

The economic and other factors that are driving countries to use nuclear energy in preference to other forms of continuous electricity generation remain unchanged by the Japan nuclear emergency, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Uranium Association, Mr Michael Angwin, said today.

And although there will be a period of uncertainty as Governments and reactor operators seek to learn the lessons of the Fukushima emergency, Australia’s uranium exports are not likely to be affected, Mr Angwin said.

He noted the comments of the Prime Minister, Ms Gillard, who said last night: “What is happening in Japan doesn’t have any impact on my thinking about uranium exports . . . . we will continue to export uranium”.

Speaking at the Paydirt 2011 Uranium Conference in Adelaide, Mr Angwin said the Fukushima crisis will have created some public nervousness and might temporarily reduce confidence in nuclear energy.

In that regard, Mr Angwin welcomed the initiative of some Governments which had already announced audits of the safety of their nuclear power stations. He expected the results would demonstrate nuclear operators maintained very high safety standards and were well prepared for emergencies.

“The industry has an extraordinarily good safety record and will learn from any lessons that emerge and make improvements where necessary,” Mr Angwin said.

There were also likely to be broader inquiries looking at the design, construction, operating conditions and location of reactors, especially with regard to areas prone to seismic activity. It was not possible to predict what might emerge.

“Countries turn to nuclear energy because they wish to improve their energy security and expand their electricity generating capacity in a way that does not increase their carbon emissions. That remains the case today,” Mr Angwin said.

The Australian uranium industry would continue to lead development of a global stewardship framework which provides additional assurance about the safe and responsible use of uranium.

“We will continue to talk to our customers, potential customers and investors about stewardship issues such as safety, environmental matters, engaging with communities and operational issues.

“We will also take part in the technical debates that will emerge and will include our insights about how people perceive risks into the solutions that will emerge from those debates,” Mr Angwin said.

“And we will continue to reject the arguments of those whose sense of opportunism overcame their common sense and who have tried to blame uranium companies for what happened at Fukushima,” he said.