Delegates from the 2018 AusIMM International Uranium Conference have urged state and federal governments to embrace uranium mining and actively discuss nuclear energy, at the 13th annual conference in this series, showcasing Australia’s capability in the sector.
The conference, held on June 5-6 in Adelaide, was attended by 110 industry, government and NGO representatives from around the world and discussed all aspects of the uranium industry and nuclear fuel cycle. Topics included uranium exploration, processing, mining, transport, environment, mine closure and rehabilitation, regulations and the use of uranium in the medical industry and power generation globally.
AusIMM CEO, Stephen Durkin said that given Australia’s rising power costs, lower energy security and desire to reduce emissions in power generation, it was time to reconsider the role that uranium could play in Australia’s energy supply.
‘The stigma that shapes discussion around uranium and nuclear energy is holding the nation back from progressing towards a cleaner, more secure, energy future,’ Mr Durkin said.
‘450 nuclear power reactors are already in operation, 57 are under construction and another 154 are currently planned. Countries like France, China and India are leading the way on this and Australia has the resources and the professional capabilities to follow suit.’
Presenters spoke of the coming opportunities for small modular reactor development and deployment in Australia. But legislation prohibits this despite Australia having the world’s best uranium resource base and the world’s best nuclear medicine and research reactor in Sydney.
Delegates expressed bewilderment at the reinstated bans on uranium mining by governments in Western Australia and Queensland, despite the exploration potential and development opportunities in these states.
The strong role uranium plays in supporting first world medical practices in Australia was also explored at the conference. Associate Professor Geoff Currie addressed delegates on Australia’s vital nuclear medicine industry, which impacts virtually every Australian, and is completely dependent on the OPAL reactor in Lucas Heights continuing to operate, which in turn is reliant on the continuation of uranium mining.
‘It was great reminding colleagues at the front end of nuclear medicine just how important uranium is for the health and wellbeing of every Australian,’ Professor Currie said.
The South Australian Government has stated that it would support the establishment of a purpose-built low level radioactive management facility in South Australia should there be a willing host community and subject to appropriate environment protection and operational standards.
‘Our uranium miners in Australia have for decades responsibly managed significant quantities of low level radioactive products. It is a race to see which community is first off the mark,’ a representative from the government said.
President-elect of the AusIMM, Janine Herzig, detailed the strong commitment of AusIMM Adelaide Branch to the workforce of the future, through the sponsoring of eight undergraduate students, including those from non-traditional mining degrees, to attend the conference.
‘These are passionate young people who are interested, not only in the science and innovation, but who are socially and environmentally very aware and are keen for knowledge, and this was clear from the questions they raised during the event.’
The annual AusIMM International Uranium Conference continues to go from strength to strength despite market pressures, as it leads the discussion on all aspects of the uranium sector. There are positive signs worldwide that the mood is shifting towards acceptance of uranium mining, nuclear energy and appreciation of the importance of nuclear medicine.
More information regarding the conference can be found at uranium.ausimm.com.