Go ahead at Ranger puzzles

Neda Vanovac
NT News

ENVIRONMENTAL groups want to know how the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park could be permitted to resume operations when the government report into the major industrial failure that led to the suspension of operations has not yet been made public.

Uranium processing has been halted since December after a leach tank collapsed, spilling about one million cubic litres of radioactive and acidic slurry at the site.

Both the federal and North- ern Territory governments yesterday approved the resumption of ore processing at the site by operators Energy Resources of Australia (ERA). A progressive restart of proces- sing will begin the same day.

“We acknowledge that this was a serious incident that damaged community confidence in our operations,” ERA chief executive Andrea Sutton said in a statement.

“The measures we have undertaken are designed to prevent anything similar happening in the future and to reassure our stakeholders and the broader community of the integrity of our operation.”

But Nuclear-free NT campaigner Lauren Mellor said the approval was premature.

“It’s extraordinary that ERA are getting a green light when the long-promised report that led to the suspension hasn’t even seen daylight,” the Australian Conservation Foundation’s spokesman Dave Sweeney said.

“If the government is confident in their process, then put the whole thing in the public domain and stop this approach of piecemeal assessment that happens behind closed doors.”

The Gundjeihmi A
boriginal Corporation, which acts on behalf of the Mirarr traditional owners, said it accepts the restart for the time being.

“We’re comfortable with this start-up, but in order for us to not all be back here in sev- eral years’ time, we need a major culture shift at the mine,” chief executive Justin O'Brien said.

NT Minister for Mines and Energy, Willem Westra van Holthe said there had been “absolutely no impact on Kakadu” as a result of the spill.

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