LNP silent on uranium mining front

A RENEWED push by the state resources lobby to reopen Queensland to uranium mining has been met with silence by the Newman Government.

In an opinion piece penned for APN News and Media, the heads of the Queensland Resources Council and the Australian Uranium Association called on the government to show "political courage" and overturn the Labor Government's ban.

"The question, really, is why it is permissible to mine and export uranium from South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia - but not Queensland?"

While the LNP traditionally supported lifting the ban on uranium mining, the policy position was dissolved when Premier Campbell Newman took on the party leadership before the state election.

A spokeswoman for Mines Minister Andrew Cripps said the policy had not been reinstated since the change of government.

While the government was not actively seeking public opinions on the matter, the spokeswoman issued a statement which said the government was "keen to hear all views".

"The Newman Government is aware of a range of strong opinions in the resources sector and across the community regarding uranium," the statement reads.

"The reality is uranium mining has not been the subject of a serious public discussion in Queensland for many years but the issue has recently been raised by some members of the community."

While the LNP state government was avoiding the question, Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, in a speech to the uranium industry in June, called on Queensland to lift the ban.

"The Australian Government urges Queensland to take the next step and to also remove its ban on uranium mining, given that it already permits exploration and has an estimated resource base of at least 37,000 tonnes," he said.

While uranium exploration has remained legal, mining of the heavy metal is prohibited throughout the state.

The industry push to overturn the ban comes as coal prices are falling from their previous highs and mine workers are being laid off across the state.

Two uranium companies, members of the QRC, could be particular beneficiaries if the ban was lifted.

These are Paladin Resources, which currently has operations in Africa, and Canadian-owned Mega Uranium, which wants to re-open a mine north of Mt Isa it shut down years ago due to environmental concerns.

The push comes after the Mt Isa Regional Council called on the state government to overturn the ban and local MP Rob Katter voiced his support for uranium mining.

While the spot price of the valuable mineral recently came off a small rise in 2011, the long viability of the mineral looks fairly positive for investors.

Industry research firm Resource Capital Research estimated that more than 80 nuclear power plants were expected to be commissioned by 2017, but the uranium supply for the new plants could not be filled with the existing world production.

The World Nuclear Association also estimated another 487 plants were planned to be operational around the globe by 2030, including 171 in China and 57 in India.



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