Published on Tuesday 5th August 2014 (AEST)Between 1958 and1963 a total of 4500 tonnes of uranium were produced. A world oversupply of uranium led to the mine lying idle from 1963. It was reopened in 1974 but closed again in 1976. It was finally closed down in 1982 and the following year everything in the town from the houses to the public buildings and the equipment was put up for auction.
A framework to guide the reintroduction of uranium mining in Queensland is expected to encourage uranium exploration, despite the resource's low price on the international market.The Queensland Government's regulatory framework that will enable the development and operation of its uranium industry.
The action plan is one of the features of the government’s 30-year plan to develop the state.
Uranium hasn't been mined in Queensland since the closure of the Mary Kathleen mine in 1982. A ban was introduced seven years later.
“Over the last 18 months, since the government announced that we would be removing the ban on uranium mining, we have been working very hard to develop a modern regulatory framework for the development of this industry,” Mr Cripps said.
The framework provides mining companies with a blueprint for their planning if they choose to propose a new uranium mine.
Mr Cripps says it is unlikely mining companies would seek to develop a mine any time soon, as the global uranium price is very low and it will not be commercially viable until the market recovers.
“Any applications that do come forward will be driven by the commercial realities of the day,” he said.
“The whole purpose of having (this) framework in place is that, when there are commercial opportunities that present themselves, Queensland is in a position to take advantage of those opportunities.”
Mr Cripps expects companies will be ready to start exploration and other preparations ahead of any improvements to the market.
Georgetown resident Noeline Ikin sat on the Uranium Mining Implementation Committee, which collaborated with the State Government to create the new framework.
She says her view of uranium mining improved during the process. She also said there would be strong employment opportunities “There would be two or three of four years of construction (of a new facility) that local people are able to engage in and benefit,” she said.
“Then when the mine starts operating... there will be 400-500 employees for an average mine.”
Townsville deputy mayor Vern Veitch, a critic of uranium mining, says the new framework does nothing to ease concerns about the safety of reintroducing the industry.
“There is very strong concern in Townsville about the possibility of a mine reopening just over the Herveys Range ridge at Ben Lomond (mine site).
"The reason for that is that the Burdekin River is the back-up water supply for the Townsville community.
“We simply cannot take the risk that this water could be contaminated with radiation poisoning from a severe storm, heavy rain that would see tailings go into the Burdekin River,” Mr Veitch said.
Applications for uranium mining projects will be lodged with the Coordinator-General for assessment and a Uranium Mining Oversight Committee has been established.
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