REGULATORS, traditional owners, and clean-up inspectors have entered the damaged Ranger mine after a tank burst spilling up to one million litres of sludge near Kakadu National Park.
Energy Resources Australia, owned by Rio Tinto, has said the clean-up is "well underway".
Leach tank 1 ruptured and collapsed on Saturday, spilling up to 1 million litres of sludge containing a mixture of mud, water, uranium ore and acid.
The accident came within a week of the collapse of an identical tank at Rio Tinto's uranium mine in Namibia, in southern Africa.It is believed the Ranger tank was installed in the early 1990s.
The Ranger mine, which opened in 1981, has been shut down and all operations suspended until regulatory approval has been granted.
STATEMENT from ERA:
(Energy Resources of Australia) will host regulators and key stakeholders at Ranger mine this morning for a scheduled inspection of the site.
The visit will include an inspection of clean-up operations following the failure of a leach tank on Saturday 7 December 2013.
Chief Executive Andrea Sutton said ERA is committed to working closely with stakeholders and facilitating access to Ranger operations.
“We will continue to work closely with key stakeholders, including the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), which represents the Mirarr Traditional Owners,” Ms Sutton said.
“Clean-up operations at Ranger are well-advanced and monitoring confirms the site is safe for visiting stakeholders and employees.”
Routine periodic inspections of Ranger mine are held monthly and involve representatives from the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy, the Office of the Supervising Scientist, the Northern Land Council and the GAC.
The inspections form just one part of a comprehensive regulatory regime which examines the impact of uranium mining in the Alligator Rivers Region.
ERA reports to three separate committees which between them oversee the technical aspects of environmental matters relating to Ranger, any potential effects of uranium mining on the environment and the nature and extent of research being undertaken to protect and restore the environment in the Alligator Rivers Region.
General Manager Operations Tim Eckersley said ERA is working closely with the Government taskforce set up to oversee the regulatory response to the leach tank incident.
The taskforce consists of the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy, Northern Territory WorkSafe, the Supervising Scientist and the Department of Industry. ERA is providing information and fact sheets to employees and the community, including Indigenous communities.
These can be found on ERA’s website, http://www.energyres.com.au/media/38_media_releases.asp.
About Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) Energy Resources of Australia Ltd is one of the nation’s largest uranium producers and Australia’s longest continually operating uranium mine.
2 ERA has an excellent track record of reliably supplying customers.
Uranium has been mined at Ranger for three decades. Ranger mine is one of only three mines in the world to produce in excess of 100,000 tonnes of uranium oxide.
ERA’s Ranger mine is located eight kilometres east of Jabiru and 260 kilometres east of Darwin, located in Australia’s Northern Territory.
ERA is a major employer in the Northern Territory and the Alligator Rivers Region.
ERA is proud of its diverse workforce of more than 500 people, of which 16 per cent are Indigenous people.
Located on the 79 square kilometre Ranger Project Area, Ranger mine is surrounded by, but separate from, the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park.