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WA uranium laws not up to it - Government review

Media Release
Scott Ludlam 14 May 2012

The Western Australian government's review of uranium mining regulation in WA has vindicated calls for a public inquiry into the industry.

The Australian Greens spokesperson on nuclear policy, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, said an independent report commissioned by the Department of Mines and Petroleum revealed serious flaws in the WA's uranium mining regulations.

"The review identified regulatory holes in terms of openness and transparency, risk-based assessment - particularly in environmental health, mine worker safety, relevant training, and community consultation. These are serious problems - this is a wakeup to the WA Government on the overwhelming down-sides of uranium mining."

"The Report recommends more staff for the Department as current staff levels and skills are inadequate for interagency meetings, media and community engagement. This indicates that the Department has been stretched to the limit when reviewing uranium mining matters, and that is profoundly troubling. This is not an industry where near enough is safe enough."

Greens MLC for the Mining and Pastoral region Robin Chapple said the flaws identified in the report are only part of the problem with uranium mining.

"The report is based on the assumption that it is economical to mine and extract uranium at this time. With the current uranium price so low, and with significant markets phasing out nuclear power or reactors in shut down mode, the global market has taken a huge hit. That is why BHP is going slow on Yeelirrie and Cameco/Mitsubishi on Kintyre, leaving Toro's troubled and uneconomic project as the front runner. This is a company with no proven experience of operating a mine, sitting on a small low-grade deposit hosted in difficult calcrete geology."

"Premier Barnett still has time to subject this industry to a thorough commission of inquiry," Mr Chapple concluded.


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