New South Wales declines to back bill lifting uranium mining ban

August 28, 2020, 12:05PMNuclear News

The government of Australia’s New South Wales (NSW)—a coalition of the Liberal and National parties—has decided against throwing its support behind a bill to repeal the state’s 30-plus-year ban on uranium mining, despite earlier reports suggesting otherwise.

Coalitional conflict: NSW Deputy Premier and National Party member John Barilaro recently told cable channel Sky News Australia’s Peta Credlin that he was in favor of lifting the ban, stating that uranium mining, and nuclear energy in general, should be part of Australia’s energy future. “We should be using [Australia’s uranium resources] for our own use, and I’ll be campaigning strongly that the federal government lifts the ban on nuclear energy in this country,” Barilaro said. “We’d be silly as a nation not to consider it as part of our energy mix.”

On August 25, however, NSW Premier and Liberal Party member Gladys Berejiklian told reporters that her cabinet would not be recommending support for the bill.

Background: The legislation, the Uranium Mining and Nuclear Facilities (Prohibitions) Repeal Bill, was introduced in the NSW Parliament’s Legislative Council in June last year by the One Nation Party’s Mark Latham.

In a speech following the bill’s introduction, Latham stated: “The case for nuclear is compelling. Australia is the world’s most geologically stable continent. We have abundant uranium reserves. We are the third‑largest supplier of uranium internationally. We export it to other countries which use it for reliable, cheaper power generation. In Australia, we have vast open spaces for nuclear waste disposal. The technological improvements in waste disposal are very significant indeed. Nuclear has become one of the safest of all generation technologies. Most nuclear reactors now operate at capacity in excess of 90 percent, so they are well suited to meeting continuous baseload demand. The medium-size reactors, through technological advancements, would fit readily into the transmission grid. Western New South Wales could power up a new mining operation using nuclear power.”

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