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Australian leader calls to allow more uranium exports

The country's greenhouse gas emissions are considered world's worst per capita

Australian leader calls to allow more uranium exports

Australia's prime minister yesterday urged state leaders to lift bans on expanding the country's uranium industry and said Australia 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," Australia's Prime Minister John 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.
"The report demonstrates clearly that there are no sound reasons to prevent uranium mining in Australia and that the global growth in uranium demand provides a timely opportunity for Australia," Howard said in a statement.
"I call upon state governments to end their bans on uranium mining and exploration, which stand in the way of investment, jobs and exports," he added.
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 export and enrichment of uranium to boost the multimillion dollar nuclear industry and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.
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.
But most states are opposed to opening new mines and to lifting bans on nuclear power plants as well as uranium enrichment.
All states are governed by the center-left Labor Party which has supported a policy since 1983 of preventing new uranium mines from opening.
Most state leaders have recently said they have no plans to relax nuclear restrictions and have challenged the center-right prime minister to say where the 25 nuclear reactors would be built.
Howard said his government would give careful thought to the report's findings.
Australia mines uranium ore and exports it without refining or enriching it. Australia imposes strict conditions on its uranium sales to ensure that the fuel is not put to any military use.
But sales are expected to soar with a recent agreement to supply uranium to China's burgeoning energy market.
Australia is also considering selling uranium to India to meet its growing energy demands despite New Delhi's refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The report released yesterday said that a "doubling of uranium exports by 2015 is realistic."
Allowing uranium enrichment would also significantly add to the value of uranium exports, currently 573 million Australian dollars (US$453 million) a year, the report said.
Introducing nuclear power in Australia could also reduce the economic cost of reducing the nation's greenhouse gas emissions, which are considered the world's worst per capita.


Updated : 2021-06-18 05:50 GMT+08:00