By Tracy Sorensen

SYDNEY — When the Jabiluka uranium mine site was sold to North Broken Hill Peko Ltd on July 3, the Northern Territory government and what the Australian calls "industry observers" started talking up the possibility that mining could go ahead under a shifty interpretation of Labor's three mines policy.

The policy permits mining of three named mines: Ranger, Roxby Downs and Nabarlek. If one of the existing mines shuts down, as Nabarlek has, it is not okay to start up another one.

The NT government and industry observers thought they were on to something with the sale to NBH Peko: because NBH Peko owns the (operating) Ranger mine next door to Jabiluka, they suggested that the pair could just as well be thought of as one, and mining could go ahead.

Friends of the Earth has faxed Bob Hawke, primary industries and energy minister Simon Crean and environment minister Ros Kelly a letter reminding them to stick to the spirit of their party's policy.

"It is certainly the position of Friends of the Earth that whether Jabiluka is owned by Pancon or North Broken Hill, it constitutes a separate project from Ranger, and on that account should not be permitted to proceed", FOE uranium research officer John Hallam said.

Environmental destruction of areas in and near the Kakadu National Park would flow from increased uranium mining activity. "Tailing pits will be close to the Magela Creek, and the impact from mine dewatering would be considerable."

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