Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion opened the 2015 Australian Uranium Conference in Perth by stating that Western Australia is ready to reap the rewards of the State Government’s strong commitment to a WA uranium export industry.
Minister Marmion said that the announced closure of the Northern Territory’s Ranger mine is set “to prompt uranium buyers to take a fresh look at potential WA suppliers”.
“Queensland is moving to ban uranium mining and the looming closure of the Northern Territory’s long-running Ranger mine has just been flagged. But the big drivers will be India and China, especially with China’s push to reduce air pollution from its current reliance on coal-fired energy generation,” the Minister said.
According to him, with China looking to triple nuclear power by 2020 and triple it again by 2050, Western Australia’s uranium export potential is looking good.
“China started building three reactors in 2014 and four so far in 2015, with another three commissioned last March,” he said.
“The World Nuclear Association says 26 Chinese reactors are now under construction, and that is good news for WA’s uranium export potential.”
WA’s four leading projects are Wiluna, Yeelirrie, Kintyre and Mulga Rock. Minister Marmion said that annual exports from the State’s four advanced projects could reach one billion dollars by 2020, “as long as uranium prices rise to economic levels.”
“It is predicted construction of these mines could employ more than 1,500 people, with 500 fulltime employees then required for operations,” he said.
Over $300 million has been invested in uranium exploration in Western Australia since the Liberal National Government lifted the state’s uranium mining ban in 2008.