ABC: Uranium mine given approval to restart processing
6th June 2014
by Matt Brann
The Federal and Northern Territory governments have given approval for processing to restart at the Ranger uranium mine near Jabiru in the Northern Territory.
The mine is operated by Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), which shut down operations in December last year after a leach tank at the mine burst, spilling a toxic slurry of uranium and acid.
The decision to allow processing to restart follows an independent investigation of the leach tank circuit and other critical infrastructure by Noetic Risk Solution and HRL Technology, which issued 10 findings and three recommendations.
Territory's Minister for Mines and Energy, Willem Westra van Holthe, says it could take a month before ERA resumes processing.
"The restart plan is a staged process and will take a number of weeks and into a month before they start processing again," he said.
"They'll get up and running as quickly as possible so they can get their people re-employed and start supporting the local economy again."
Audio: Processing to resume at Ranger uranium mine (ABC Rural)
The Traditional Owners of the Ranger mine site say they're happy with the plan for restarting the processing plant.
The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation says it was consulted and it's taken comfort from the involvement of experts in assessing the clean up and setting out plans for the future.
Dave Sweeney, from the Australian Conservation Foundation ,has told ABC Local Radio he's disappointed the approval has been given to ERA, given the report into the cause of the leach tank failure had not been publicly tabled.
Mr Sweeney said the government had a 'well-worn path' of refusing to comment when incidents happened at Ranger because it could jeopardise the independence of inquiries, then refusing to release the full findings of reports because it was commercial-in-confidence.
Ranger, which began production in 1981, is one of the world's largest uranium mines and is located within the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park.