8 Reasons to Oppose the Jabiluka Uranium Mine

Issue 

By Dave Gosling and Nikki Ulasowski

1. Because the mine is racist.

The traditional owners of the land, the Mirrar people, are totally opposed to the Jabiluka mine. They were pressured into agreeing to the Ranger uranium mine lease in 1979 by threats to the Land Rights Act.

The same process happened in 1982 with the Jabiluka mine. The mine represents a violation of their right to self-determination and will damage their cultural and historical connection to the land — yet ERA and the government are willing to ride roughshod over them.

2. Because the mine will pollute the surrounding Kakadu National Park and World Heritage-listed area.

The mine itself is a 1.5 square kilometre hole plus buildings, smack in the middle of Kakadu National Park. Poisonous radon gas is released during mining and will be breathed in by the workers, and may be scattered over large areas of Kakadu by wind.

The mine will bring the total amount of radioactive tailings in Kakadu to 60 million tonnes. This radioactive waste can be released or leak into Kakadu's creeks and wetlands, potentially causing cancer, stillbirths, deformed babies, premature ageing and long-term environmental contamination. Already the Ranger mine has released tens of thousands of cubic metres of radioactive water into the Magella wetlands.

The World Heritage Committee even sent their chairperson to look at the likely environmental consequences of the mine, with the possibility of officially designating Kakadu "World Heritage at risk".

3. Because a go-ahead for Jabiluka mine is a green light for 26 more planned uranium mines.

Many of these mines are on leases carved out inside national parks, and all produce deadly radioactive waste. Unless we can stop them in Kakadu it will be open slather for mining companies and the government.

4. Because uranium is a poison.

The Jabiluka mine won't affect only the Mirrar people, Kakadu and mine workers. Uranium and the nuclear cycle are a threat to humanity.

Uranium is one of the most poisonous naturally occurring substances known. There are no guarantees that uranium mined and milled in Kakadu won't end up in nuclear weapons.

Use in nuclear reactors can be just as deadly. Smaller accidents happen every day at nuclear plants. Another Chernobyl or Three Mile Island is only a matter of time, with attendant deaths from cancer and radiation, contamination of the soil and birth defects.

5. Because there are alternative energy and environment policies.

Capitalism continues to ignore the existing technologies — solar and wind power generation, for example, and energy conservation and public transport systems — which could break our reliance on fossil and nuclear fuels for energy.

Coal and oil companies actually buy up the rights for alternative energy technology so that no-one will develop them. Governments are pushing nuclear energy as a "clean" alternative — this is madness.

6. Because Jabiluka is a symbol of all that's wrong with the Howard government.

Howard and his mates have no respect for Aboriginal rights or the environment. In just one term, the government has all but extinguished native title through the Native Title Amendment Act, has reduced funding for Aboriginal services and has jumped on the band wagon of racism.

Howard has been a nightmare for the environment too — look at his role in blocking binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions. Labor wouldn't be much better — their "no new mines" policy won't close Jabiluka, or any of the other 26 mines proposed if they're operating before the next election.

7. Because the only people who will benefit from the mine are mining company shareholders.

All aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, from mining to nuclear reactors to the production of weapons, have major destructive consequences for all of humanity and the environment. Yet it still exists, because the system we live under, capitalism, will stop at nothing to maintain profits for the corporate rich. So while companies like ERA, which owns Jabiluka, rake in billions of dollars, the rest of the world has to deal with the problems they create.

8. Because it is a question of basic democracy.

Despite the propaganda of the mining companies and the government, polls show that 70% of people in Australia are against the Jabiluka mine.

But they are going ahead with it anyway, claiming "national interest"! This just hides the private interest — profits — of the mining corporations and their friends, behind a veneer of democracy that gives the rich, not the people, decision-making power.

We need a genuine democracy, which puts people before profits, which cares more about human needs and the environment than the greed of the corporations. That's socialism, which can develop the green energy sources we need and end an insane policy of mining poison for the profits of a few mining company shareholders.

[Dave Gosling and Nikki Ulasowski are both Resistance activists in Canberra. Both have also been directly involved in campaigning against the Jabiluka mine.]

What you can do

There are many groups across the country involved in campaigning against the Jabiluka mine, planning actions, holding stalls, raising funds. Currently, there are plans under way for a national day of action against the mine on December 6. Contact your nearest Resistance branch for details of how to get involved

The Shame File

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