Ranger profits fall
By Jim Green
On April 29 Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) announced significant profit falls over the past three months from the Ranger uranium mine in the NT. Sales revenue from Ranger fell by 25%, and after-tax profit fell by over 50%.
ERA's report confirmed that part of the milling operation at Ranger has been closed in response to decreased demand and production.
ERA is constructing the nearby Jabiluka uranium mine. Since it started the Jabiluka project in 1996, ERA's share price has fallen by about 65%.
Dave Sweeney, from the Australian Conservation Foundation, said, "These figures can only add to ERA's financial woes. Not only is this company unpopular; it is also unprofitable. The Jabiluka project has been described as the most controversial industrial development in Australia and is the continuing focus for growing interest and action both here and overseas."
Recent developments in the Jabiluka mine saga include a Senate censure for environment minister Robert Hill for failing to table key documents, the establishment of a Senate inquiry, a major international environment award being given to Yvonne Margarula (the senior traditional owner) and Jacqui Katona (from the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation), and ongoing legal action in the Federal Court.
The Senate inquiry will consider: the approvals process for the Jabiluka mine; whether a full public inquiry should be established to evaluate the project; world heritage issues; radiological protection issues; and the rights of traditional owners.
The inquiry may help the campaign against the mine as a delaying tactic and by keeping the spotlight on the government's mishandling of the issue. However, the government can — and almost certainly will — ignore the findings of the inquiry.