More than 40 years of high-impact uranium mining and processing at Energy Resources of Australia’s (ERA) Ranger mine in Kakadu ends today.

Australia’s longest-running uranium operation was licensed to operate until 8 January 2021.

“This is a very good day for Kakadu, the Northern Territory and Australia,” said Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“The Ranger mine has generated controversy, headlines and heartache for four decades.

“The focus must now be on ERA and parent company Rio Tinto doing comprehensive and credible site rehabilitation and supporting the transition to a post-mining regional economy.

“Today we should also acknowledge the sustained efforts of the Mirarr Traditional Owners and the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation to protect their country and culture from the impact of mining.

“The Mirarr opposed the Ranger mine 40 years ago, led a successful campaign to stop ERA developing a further mine at nearby Jabiluka 20 years ago, and are now driving the re-shaping of a culture- and conservation-based local economy.

“Plans for cleaning up the site of the Ranger mine are being hampered by an unrealistic rehabilitation time frame, funding uncertainty and fears about a tailings dam leaking toxic contaminants into the surrounding national park.

Closing Ranger, protecting Kakadu, a recent report co-authored by ACF, also found data deficiencies and technical issues, particularly around groundwater and tailings management.

“Australia has a long history of sub-standard mine rehabilitation in the uranium and wider mining sectors. A far better approach and outcome is needed at Ranger.

“This work is a key test of the commitment of ERA and Rio Tinto, as well as the Northern Territory and federal governments.”

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