Jabiluka faces another obstacle

Issue 

Jabiluka faces another obstacle

By Jim Green

The future of the Jabiluka uranium mine in the Northern Territory is in doubt. The Northern Land Council (NLC), following a full council meeting on October 19-21, advised Energy Resources of Australia that it will not consider ERA's preferred milling option — trucking Jabiluka ore 20 kilometres to the existing mill at Ranger — until at least the year 2005.

ERA has several options: construct a mill at Jabiluka; continue efforts to secure approval for milling at Ranger; put the project on hold in the hope that permission for the Ranger milling option will be granted in or after 2005; or abandon the project.

Following the NLC's decision, ERA said, "The current strategic review and evaluation studies being undertaken in relation to the Jabiluka mine, which is common to both milling options, will now focus on refining the best outcomes that can be delivered by developing a milling option at Jabiluka".

An article in the November 5 Australian Financial Review said that Malcolm Broomhead, the new managing director of ERA's parent company, North Limited, was "making all the right noises" about proceeding with the mine but that he may have been advised by some broking houses to abandon the project if forced to build a new mill.

ERA already has government approval to build a new mill at Jabiluka. According to the industry-funded Uranium Information Centre, preliminary estimates suggest that this would cost ERA $150 million.