Uranium mining in North Queensland

Uranium Mining in North Queensland

NQCC has campaigned against Uranium mining in North Queensland for decades. We hold the position that uranium is not an adequate solution to meeting our energy needs. Our most prominent campaign has been against the Ben Lomond Uranium Mine.

Ben Lomond Uranium Mine

The Ben Lomond Uranium Mine is 40 kilometers west of Townsville, sitting directly at the head of the Burdekin River watershed. Keelbottom Creek is a tributary to the Burdekin River.

The uranium deposit was discovered in 1975 with exploration and development occurring between 1976 and 1982. The mine was granted a permit before an Environmental Impact Statement was completed but never became fully operational. The State Government failed to consult with the Townsville City Council or residents in development of the mine. During its brief operation, only 36 tonnes of uranium ore was ever exported, flown to Noumea in New Caledonia, then to France. Sustained community opposition in the 1980s and an eventual Federal Government ban on uranium mining led to development being put on hold in 1983. The remaining radioactive ore was brought to the surface, placed on dumps and covered.

In 2012, the LNP State Government overturned a 32 year ban on uranium mining. On 1st  August 2014, the State Government opened applications for uranium mining projects. Until the change of government in 2015, the threat of a recommissioned Ben Lomond Mine was very real. Unbelievably, there were even plans to transport mined uranium through the Townsville CBD and to the port for export through the Great Barrier Reef. When the Labor Party won the 2015 Queensland election, the ban on uranium mining was swiftly reintroduced within the first few weeks of assuming office.

Throughout these developments, the Citizens Against Mining Ben Lomond (CAMBL) and NQCC have worked in partnership, hosting stalls at markets and local events, marches and rallies, meeting with politicians, writing Parliamentary submissions, and collecting petitions.

In April 2015, a Community Cabinet meeting was held in Townsville, where CAMBL representatives took the opportunity to meet with Ministers and staff from the mines and environment portfolios. The Environmental Authority given to the leaseholder of the Ben Lomond Mine was up for renewal and it was believed that the new version would contain stricter conditions. Unfortunately, the new conditions are not stricter, and in fact allow for exploration drilling and the construction of an exploratory shaft.

NQCC continues to work with CAMBL to engage the State and Federal Governments to ensure the enforcement of environmental regulations at the Ben Lomond mine and to resist any new uranium mine development.

Click here for our archived blog posts on the issue


Websites

News

Queensland Government’s new uranium mining framework opens the state to yellowcake exploration‘, ABC News, 1 Aug 2014

Queensland lifts its uranium ban, but is the price worth the cost?‘, Maxine Newlands and Liz Tynan, The Conversation, 1 July 2014

Uranium study adds fuel to Ben Lomond protests‘, Townsville Bulletin, 20 Dec 2013

Papers and Reports

  • Stacking the Numbers (pdf), an address by Wendy Tubman at the Anti-Uranium Rally held in Townsville on 29 November 2012
  • Gavin Mudd & Mark Diesendorf, 2007, Sustainability of Uranium Mining and Milling: Toward Quantifying Resources and Eco-Efficiency
  • Mudd, G, 2003, Radon releases from Australian uranium mining and milling projects: assessing the UNSCEAR approach
  • Gavin M. Mudd Radon sources and impacts: a review of mining and non-mining issues
  • Gavin M. Mudd, James Patterson, Continuing pollution from the Rum Jungle U–Cu project: A critical evaluation of environmental monitoring and rehabilitation
  • Briony Ferguson & Gavin M. Mudd, Water Quality, Water Management and the Ranger Uranium Project: Guidelines, Trends and Issues
  • G M Mudd and M Diesendorf, Uranium Mining, Nuclear Power and Sustainability – Rhetoric versus Reality

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