News that BHP, the world’s biggest mining company, will not continue with the long planned multi-billion dollar expansion of its Olympic Dam uranium and copper project shows the clock is ticking on uranium, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

The planned expansion of the mine in northern South Australia enjoyed strong state and federal government support and was on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent list of major projects to be fast-tracked.

“This move is further evidence of the deep market malaise surrounding uranium operations,” said Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“Today’s announcement shows that political access, spin and favours cannot change the realities of an ore body or the global commodity market.

“BHP has made a basic, hard-headed business decision not to proceed with this project.

“The global uranium price has been hammered since the Fukushima nuclear disaster and it is unlikely to improve. The sector has scant social license and is increasingly embattled.

“Today’s decision by BHP, coupled with Rio Tinto’s exit from operations at the Ranger mine in Kakadu, shows the clock is ticking on uranium, the asbestos of the 21st Century.

“South Australia’s energy, employment and economic options should not be tied to a continued dependence on high impact, low certainty resource projects.

“South Australia is well placed to lead the nation in renewable energy tools, technology and thinking.

“This decision may be the pivot needed to shift to a secure, sustainable contemporary economy.”

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