The Australian Conservation Foundation and the Mineral Policy Institute have welcomed further moves towards the end of the uranium industry in Kakadu and called for confirmation that no underground mining plans will be pursued ahead of Energy Resources of Australia’s (ERA) annual meeting in Darwin today.
Last week ERA confirmed it had finally formalised a A$100 million credit deal with parent company Rio Tinto to provide extra certainty and capacity around rehabilitation of the Ranger mine site.
The credit deal, described by ERA as ‘prudent, appropriate and in the best interests of all shareholders,’ is predicated on no further uranium mining at Ranger.
“ERA no longer mines uranium and soon will no longer process uranium at the troubled Ranger site,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.
“This annual meeting is a good time for the company to accept that the uranium production era is over and it is now time for clean-up and repair. ERA should now formally withdraw its Ranger 3 Deep (R3D) application for underground mining at Ranger and instead focus its full efforts on closure, exit and transition”.
All mining and mineral processing at Ranger is required to end by early January 2021 and ERA is obliged to ensure the comprehensive rehabilitation of the mine site and surrounds.
This rehabilitation is required to be of a very high standard - suitable for the former Ranger mine site to be formally included into the surrounding Kakadu World Heritage region. Environment groups will be inside the Darwin meeting and will ask questions of ERA about the future rehabilitation of the site.
“There are massive challenges facing ERA and Rio Tinto at Ranger and they will be long judged by their efforts in the coming years,” said Mineral Policy Institute legacy mines project coordinator Lauren Mellor.
“Ranger has had a troubled and contested history and there is a clear need to now do business differently and better. Many eyes across Australia and around the world are watching ERA and Rio Tinto and this rehabilitation work is a key test of the company’s credibility and responsibility”.
Environment groups will be continuing their efforts to ensure the highest standard rehabilitation and closure work at Ranger and to support the aspirations of the region’s Mirarr Traditional Owners in the transition to a vibrant post mining regional economy.