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Australian prime minister calls on states to allow more uranium exports

Australian prime minister calls on states to allow more uranium exports

Prime Minister John Howard on Friday urged state leaders to lift bans on expanding Australia's uranium industry and said the country needs to introduce nuclear power to meet its future energy needs.
"Nuclear power is part of the solution both to Australia's energy and climate change challenges," Howard said, releasing a report on the uranium industry's potential.
The federal government-commissioned report found the building of nuclear enrichment capabilities and atomic power generators would bring major financial and environmental advantages.
It found that uranium exports could double by 2015 if state governments dropped their objections to ramping up the country's nuclear fuel industry.
"I call upon state governments to end their bans on uranium mining and exploration, which stand in the way of investment, jobs and exports," Howard said in a statement.
But several state leaders attacked Howard's plan, arguing that nuclear power would drive up the price of household electricity. They asked where the reactors would be built and where the radioactive waste would be buried.
"I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the prime minister is going down this road," said Peter Beattie, premier of coal and uranium-rich Queensland state.
All states are governed by the center-left Labor Party which has supported a policy since 1983 of preventing new uranium mines from opening.
Labor's federal leader Kevin Rudd, the main opposition party leader, said the center-right government's lack of commitment to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind will be a major issue at elections due late in 2007.
"Mr. Howard's plan is to have a nuclear reactor in your neighborhood. What we want to see is solar panels on your roof," Rudd told reporters.
The report is the final version of a draft released by an expert panel in November that recommended Australia, which holds almost 40 percent of the world's known uranium reserves, lift restrictions on the export and enrichment of uranium.
The report found that if Australia built 25 nuclear reactors, they could supply a third of Australia's energy needs by 2050. Australia is the world's largest coal exporter and most of its electricity is generated by the polluting fossil fuel. It currently has no nuclear power plants.
Howard said his government would give careful thought to the report's findings.
Australian law bans refining or enriching uranium, exports of which are valued at 573 million Australian dollars (US$453 million;


Updated : 2021-06-19 17:11 GMT+08:00