Locals hit as uranium leaves NT
Energy Resources Australia (ERA) has ditched plans for its underground expansion project, Three Deeps, due to falling uranium prices.
In a recent statement, ERA said the uranium market has not improved as it expected, and it is impossible to tell what prices will do in the future.
The Three Deeps plan would have seen the currently open-cut Ranger Uranium Mine moving into underground operations for the first time.
The discontinuation of the big idea has thrown the future of uranium mining in the Northern Territory into uncertainty.
ERA will continue to “process stockpiles and meet obligations to its customers”, the statement said, and is organising funding to rehabilitate the mine site located in the centre of Kakadu National Park.
Jabiru traditional owners say they will not support future mining in Kakadu National Park after ERA’s Ranger Mine lease ends in 2021, due to the heavy cultural and environmental impacts.
“First and foremost in our minds is ensuring the permanent protection of the natural and cultural values for which Kakadu is inscribed World Heritage,” Justin O'Brien, spokesperson for the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), told the ABC.
“However, as things stand today we will not support any extended term of mining at Ranger beyond 2021.”
But GAC says it has no guarantee from Rio Tinto (ERA’s major shareholder) or the Federal Government that Ranger will be the last uranium mine in Kakadu.
A local woman who has lived in Jabiru for more than 30 years told the ABC that the project’s cancellation would benefit Aboriginal people.
“It's a good thing if the mine stops so the Aboriginal people can control their country here and look after it,” she said.
“It might give them incentive to work, look out for their community and look after their country.”