Facts about the uranium industry

  • Australian uranium is produced only for export and is used only for peaceful purposes in civil nuclear power stations overseas.
  • Demand for uranium is growing as overseas countries increasingly look to nuclear power as a secure, reliable source of base-load electricity that does not pollute the air and which can help relieve harmful climate change.
  • The uranium industry includes companies of greatly differing size and characteristics: from small exploration companies with a handful of employees, to large Australian companies with domestic and overseas uranium interests; to local subsidiaries of multinational companies, and mining companies with some of the largest uranium operations in the world.
  • Uranium is valuable to Australia both as an export earner and as a contributor to global climate relief.
  • Generating electricity with uranium-based fuel produces few emissions, such as the heavy gas and particle emissions from other electricity sources, especially coal-fired power stations.
  • Uranium exploration, mining, processing and transportation are significant employers of First Australians, with some workforces comprising up to 15 per cent indigenous employees. The industry's employees are mostly rural and regional residents.
  • Uranium exploration and mining is permitted in South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Uranium exploration alone is permitted in Queensland but mining is banned, as it is in Victoria and New South Wales.
  • Uranium mining in Australia is heavily regulated, in some areas more so than any other resource sector.
  • Australia’s uranium earns significant export income, at about the same level as aircraft and aviation component exports; dairy exports, like cheese; telecommunications equipment, and computer exports.
  • In the short to medium term, exports are forecast to increase to 14,000 tonnes in 2014, earning $A1.7billion (ABARE Uranium Outlook to 2014).
  • Australia has a significant expansion opportunity, as we have nearly 40% of the world’s uranium recoverable at reasonable cost, yet we supply only 19% of the world market.
  • Our current exports – around 10,000 tonnes a year – when used to fuel nuclear power stations help avoid around 400 million tonnes of greenhouse gases that would otherwise be emitted each year by fossil-fuelled power stations.
  • A joint industry / Government body, the Uranium Industry Framework, is examining ways to remove obstacles to the development of the uranium industry.
  • Increased Australian uranium exports could help avoid an additional 11 billion to 15 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions up to 2030.
  • If the Australian uranium industry were allowed to expand to its full potential, Australia’s uranium exports could increase from around 10,000 tonnes (in 2007, valued at $887 million) to between 28,500 tonnes a year and 37,000 tonnes a year in 2030 (Deloitte modelling).
  • Uranium exports could add between $14.2 billion and $17.4 billion in net present value terms to Australian GDP between now and 2030 (Deloitte).