29 June 2009 - Call for WA uranium inquiry rejected

The Australian Uranium Association has rejected the call by some lobby groups for a public inquiry into BHP Billiton’s proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine.

“The development of each potential uranium mine in Western Australia should be dealt with on its merits in accordance with WA’s laws,” the Executive Director of the AUA, Mr Michael Angwin, said today.

Mr Angwin said the people of Western Australia could be confident that uranium mining will be conducted safely and responsibly with the application of the highest environmental standards, as in other parts of Australia and in other sectors of the resources industry.

He said a dozen or more Parliamentary committee inquiries, commissions of review, policy debates, internal political party debates and election contests have been conducted since the Fox Royal Commission in 1977 first approved uranium mining in Australia.

Uranium mining had been tested in all these and was now a permanent and growing export industry. Australian uranium helps countries around the world secure their energy supplies with a form of energy that makes a massive contribution to the fight against climate change.

“The Labor and Liberal parties nationally support the uranium industry. The Barnett Government was elected with a clear mandate to permit uranium mining, won in a heated election campaign where the issue was front and centre in the public’s mind,” Mr Angwin said.

Uranium had been mined, processed and transported safely for more than 35 years in Australia. “Mining uranium is much like mining other minerals. The issues to be managed are well known and are well managed,” Mr Angwin, said.

“We understand, of course, that some people still feel uncertain and even concerned about uranium mining. We hope they will express their concerns during the extensive public comment period the Yeelirrie proposal will be subject to,” Mr Angwin said.

A broad public inquiry into uranium would be just another platform for the anti-uranium lobby groups. “Their position is well known – they want to shut down the industry.

“Seeking a public inquiry is a tired and predictable tactic that would distract from a consideration of the merits of the Yeelirrie proposal,” Mr Angwin said.