Print

Uranium mining in Australia

Australia is home to around 40% of the world’s uranium reserves and currently supplies around 20% of the global market. We supply the fuel for nuclear waste.

Uranium mining in Australia

Australia is home to around 40% of the world’s uranium reserves and currently supplies around 20% of the global market, with exports of around 10,000 tonnes of uranium oxide (yellowcake) each year.

There are three uranium mines commercially operating in Australia:

  • Energy Resources of Australia (ERA, majority owned by Rio Tinto) operate Ranger mine in Kakadu;
  • BHP Billiton run the Olympic Dam (Roxby) mine in northern South Australia; and
  • Heathgate Resources run the small Beverley mine, also in South Australia; and
  • Honeymoon is an approved mine owned by the Canadian company Uranium One and located near Beverley in SA. The mine has commenced production but not full commercial operations.

Another uranium mine, Toro Wiluna, is currently under consideration in Western Australia. It has been given pending approval by the WA state government, but still requires Commonwealth approval and a number of other State Approvals that the EPA has deferred. ACF is currently campaigning against this plan.

All the operating mines have a history of leaks, spills and accidents. In fact, a damning investigation by the Australian Senate in 2003 found the sector characterised by a pattern of underperformance and non-compliance, an absence of reliable data to measure the extent of contamination or its impact on the environment, and an operational culture that gives greater weight to short term considerations than long-term environmental protection. 

The investigation concluded that changes were necessary in order to protect the environment and its inhabitants from ‘serious or irreversible damage.

The nuclear journey begins with uranium mining and 70% of the world’s uranium lies on Indigenous lands. These impacts can be wide ranging and include both environmental and cultural/social and also apply to broader communities. 

Australia and the world’s energy future is renewable, not radioactive, and the safest place for Australia’s uranium is right where it is — in the ground.

Uranium mining in Kakadu

We have long campaigned for an end to uranium mining in the unique Kakadu region. Kakadu is Australia’s largest National Park and is World Heritage listed for both its environmental and cultural importance. Despite this listing, uranium mining has been occurring in the region since 1980 and continues to threaten the communities and country of Kakadu.

What we have achieved together

ACF’s work for a nuclear-free future has been an important part of decades of opposition to the nuclear industry in Australia that has seen:

  • Plans for domestic nuclear power scrapped;
  • National and state legislation introduced to prohibit international radioactive waste dumping;
  • Development and maintenance of anti-uranium mining policies and laws along the eastern seaboard;
  • Scrapping of plans for uranium enrichment;
  • Halting plans for a new uranium mine at Jabiluka in Kakadu;
  • Continuing contest to all existing and new uranium projects and proposals in Australia;
  • Strong regional and international campaign cooperation and exchange, including around French nuclear testing in the Pacific;
  • Extensive liaison and links with Indigenous communities and organisations;
  • World Heritage protection for that area of Kakadu threatened by the proposed Koongarra uranium mine; and
  • An end to the threat of uranium mining at Arkaroola in South Australia’s Gammon Ranges.

What next?

We have facilitated a continuing public debate about the risks and responsibilities of our involvement in the global nuclear trade and continue to do so. We want meaningful action to address our energy needs, based upon leaving uranium in the ground.

How you can support a clean energy future