A recent softening of anti-uranium policy by Western Australia’s Labor Opposition has made uranium mining a near certainty. A strong environmental commitment – including a switch to eco-friendly industrial liquids – holds the key to dissolving community fears about this nuclear product.
Western Australia’s new opposition leader has backed away from a previous Labor Party election commitment to halt the operation of uranium mines.
Mark McGowan has softened his party’s anti-uranium policy more than a year out from next year’s March state elections.
Uranium mining has been opposed in Western Australia because of concerns over the environment and safety. While nuclear supporters defend uranium mining as environmentally-friendly, liquid waste from tailings and radioactive waste present management challenges.
The mining sector has been driving eco-friendly changes such as rehabilitating abandoned mining sites and improving waste management. Water and soil contamination remains a key concern and small steps including a switch to eco-friendly industrial liquids have helped the industry improve its image.
While South Australia and the Northern Territory have actively mined uranium deposits – recently embarking on a major expansion of SA’s Olympic Dam mine near Roxby Downs – Western Australia has traditionally shied away from uranium mining.
Mr McGowan indicated in January that should his party win the next State election it would allow any uranium mining projects already under construction to operate.
WA’s Labor Party had previously broke away from its Federal Government counterparts on the issue of uranium mining, vowing to block projects if elected despite Federal Labor supporting uranium exports to India.
“We remain opposed to uranium mining, but I recognise we have to deal with the hand we are dealt if we come to government in 2013,” Mr McGowanhas said.
“Accordingly, if Labor is successful at the 2013 election any uranium mine under construction will be allowed to proceed, to become operational and operate in its lawfully granted conditions.”
The race is on for mining companies to open WA’s first yellowcake mine. Adelaide-based Toro Energy has announced plans to start construction on its $280 million Wiluna project by 2013 and wants to export about 820 tonnes of uranium oxide each year.
A commitment to minimising environmental harm will be important for the mining sector if it is to overcome anti-uranium public sentiment within Western Australia.
Small steps, such as switching from toxic chemicals to eco-friendly liquid products, can reduce soil and water contamination. Environmental cleaning products supplied by Perth-based Envirosafe Solutions have been designed to achieve impressive results in hard water conditions found at remote mining site. Their products, including dust suppressors and rust converters, are non-toxic.
Environmental integrity holds the key for mining companies wanting to engage communities. For more information about environmentally friendly liquids contact Envirosafe Solutions’ on 1300 88 90 70 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.