Energy planners take prudent approach on potential nuclear energy use

The draft Energy White Paper’s contemplation of future nuclear energy use shows discussion of uranium and nuclear energy is becoming a normal part of Australian policy development, says the Australian Uranium Association.

“It is sensible for Australia’s energy planners to have in mind the potential for nuclear energy to prove a viable option for a future Australian Government,” said the CEO of the Association, Mr Michael Angwin.

“It is prudent for the national Government to think about what might need to be done to prepare for the implementation of nuclear electricity capacity should it prove necessary,” he said.

Mr Angwin said the publication of the draft Energy White Paper with a framework for consideration of nuclear energy was part of the ‘normalising’ of the Australian discussion of uranium and nuclear energy.

He noted that in the past five years:

  •  A ground-breaking early examination of the feasibility of nuclear energy for Australia had been conducted (the UMPNER review, 2006)
  • The Commonwealth Parliament had produced a large report on uranium subtitled ‘Greenhouse friendly fuel for an energy hungry world’ (2006)
  • Bipartisan national support for uranium mining had been established with the ALP’s abandonment of its restrictive three mines uranium policy (2007)
  • Environmental approvals had been granted for a new uranium mine (Four Mile) and two mine extensions (Beverley North and Olympic Dam)
  • Record levels of expenditure on uranium exploration had been recorded
  • West Australian policy had been changed to permit uranium mining, with new mines now under development
  •  Production had commenced at Australia’s fourth uranium mine, Honeymoon, in South Australia
  • Uranium export treaties had been signed with Russia and China and were being negotiated with the United Arab Emirates
  • The Australian Labor Party had decided to permit uranium sales to India, and
  • The New South Wales Government had decided to overturn a decades-old moratorium on  uranium exploration

 “We welcome the decision of the Gillard Government, while itself opposed to nuclear energy for Australia, to encourage an open public discussion on this important issue,” Mr Angwin said.

The White Paper says Australia has the potential to be the world’s most important uranium supplier and forecasts annual exports of 26,200 tonnes by 2034.