Uranium mine on Darwin's doorstep?

Tuesday, 10 April, 2007

by Emma King, uranium campaigner

The Environment Centre of the Northern Territory (ECNT) warns that Australia's next uranium mine could be just an hour's drive from Darwin, and only a stone’s throw from Darwin’s drinking water supply.

Uranium campaigner Emma King says a Mineral Lease application by Compass Resources for the Mt Fitch uranium deposit near Rum Jungle was advertised last week.

"That licence application is one of the most significant moves we've seen since current the uranium speculation frenzy began a couple of years ago," Ms King said.

"If the application were approved, Compass would be one step closer to opening a toxic uranium mine at Mt Fitch."

ECNT has a number of concerns about the development of this project, including its proximity to Darwin River Dam – our drinking water supply, its impact on local horticulture and tourism, and its effect on local surface and ground water.

"The NT government has no ability to adequately regulate or monitor a new uranium mine," Ms King said.

"Ranger Mine is regulated and monitored by the Commonwealth Office of the Supervising Scientist (OSS) as well as the NT Department of Mines. What regulation would apply to a new uranium mine?

"Any new mine in the area would only be adding to pollution levels in the Finniss River – a result of the NT's first disastrous uranium mine Rum Jungle."

Although abandoned in 1971, the badly contaminated site has yet to be fully rehabilitated, and pollution levels in the Finniss River system remain the subject of ongoing concerns.

With the ALP National Conference to discuss their approach to uranium mining at the end of the month, ECNT hopes that the NT delegates, including Chief Minister Clare Martin, will support NT Labor's election commitment to oppose new uranium mines in the NT.

"When this month's ALP national conference addresses Labor's uranium mining policy, this is what will be at stake: a new uranium mine in Batchelor, only a few km from the Darwin River Dam catchment," Ms King said.

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