Mining and Heavy Industries

Turnbull open to uranium exports

Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Veni Markovski / Creative Commons

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he could see a bigger uranium export industry in Australia, despite doubting the potential of nuclear power generation locally.

Turnbull, interviewed on Wednesday morning on Adelaide’s FIVEAA radio station, suggested that there was enough uranium in Australia – and enough demand internationally – that he could see a significant uranium exporting sector developing.

“That is a business that you could well imagine here,” Turnbull said.

According to the World Nuclear Association, Australia has the world’s largest resource of uranium, holding roughly 31% of the world’s known supply.

Despite this, Australia exported just 5897 tonnes of triuranium octoxide – the traded compound of uranium – in 2014, and was just the third-largest producer of the mineral, behind Kazakhstan and Canada.

A royal commission into the potential of a stronger uranium exporting industry was established earlier this year by the South Australian Government.

According to World Nuclear Association data, the three active mines in Australia are Olympic Dam and Four Mile/Beverley in South Australia, and Ranger in the Northern Territory.

The royal commission inquiry was established by South Australian premier Jay Weatherill in early 2015. It is titled the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, and is headed up by former South Australian governor, Kevin Scarce.

The commission’s findings are expected no later than May 2016.

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