Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has made a decision to
re-commence uranium mining in Queensland following the previous
Labor Government's decades-long policy to ban uranium mining in
The State Government announced it will convene a three-member
implementation committee to oversee the recommencement of uranium
mining in Queensland (however, nuclear energy production or nuclear
waste disposal plants in Queensland will remain off-limits). The
Government-appointed committee will prepare a report on uranium
mining within three months.
This policy is consistent with the movement by other States and
the Federal Government to approve the exploration, mining and sale
At the ALP National Conference in December 2011, the ALP
overturned the long-standing ban on uranium sales to India. Only
last week, Prime Minister Julia Gillard began implementation of
this policy by commencing negotiations with India on the sale of
Queensland already has an estimated resource base of at least
37,000 tonnes of uranium. Natural Resource and Mines Minister
Andrew Cripps said Queensland's known uranium deposits are
worth an estimated $10 billion. The two main deposits of uranium
are located outside Mt Isa and on the Gulf of Carpentaria. The last
uranium mine in Queensland, the Mary Kathleen mine, was closed in
1982, and extracted a total of 7 million tonnes of uranium ore.
Uranium exploration in Queensland has not been subject to the
prohibition and there has been continued interest for uranium
The previous Labor Government policy against uranium mining in
Queensland was never incorporated within legislation, but was
implemented by way of the State Government refusing to grant any
mining leases for the purposes of mining uranium under the general
terms of the Minerals Resources Act 1989 (Qld) (MRA). This means
that significant legislative changes will not be necessary in
Queensland to facilitate uranium mining given that uranium falls
with the defined scope of "mineral" under section 6 of
the MRA. However, it is likely that, similarly to when the ban was
lifted in Western Australia, the government-appointed committee
will prepare a report on whether additional legislation, policies
and approvals will be required.
The Government has not mentioned in its statement if there will
be any amendment to the royalty rate for uranium mining which in
Queensland is currently 2.5% (for "other minerals"). For
example the royalty rate for uranium oxide in Western Australia is
For further information
For further information in relation to Australia's
regulatory regime in relation to uranium and Nuclear Fuel, as well
as recent developments in relation to uranium trade and exports
please see our
Uranium and Nuclear Fuels Briefing Paper.
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
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