Uranium Mining in Australia
Uranium is being mined in Australia since 1954, there are currently three mines producing uranium in Australia. These make up for one third of the total uranium in the world. Australia is the third ranking producer of Uranium.
During the 1930’s, ores were mined at the radium hill. It was during this time that a few kilograms of uranium was also discovered. Australia initially mined Uranium from 1950 to 1971. However, mining stopped once the ores depleted. Explorations were carried out in the late 1960’s. As a result some 60 uranium deposits were found.
History of Uranium Mining in Australia
Uranium deposits have exited in Australia since 1890. The first time uranium was mined in 1930 at Radium hill and mount painter in South Australia. The purpose was to look for trace amounts of radium to be used for medicinal purpose. As a result some amount of uranium was discovered. Because of its bright yellow color it started being used for decoration purposes to add color to glass and ceramics.
On request of the British and American governments, further explorations were carried out to look for uranium. In 1948the common wealth ordered tax free rewards upon the discovery of new uranium deposits.
As a result of these explorations uranium was discovered at the rum jungle in 1949, Mary Kathleen at 1954, south alligator river region and Westmoreland in 1956.
Later on the development of nuclear power led to a second wave of exploration in the 1960’s. this again led to finding new mines for excavating uranium. Australia slowly became one of the largest suppliers of uranium in the world.
Uranium Resources in Australia
According to data analyzed during 2012, it was discovered that 29% of the world’s uranium resources were in Australia. The majority of deposits are found in
- Olympic dam which is considered as the largest uranium depost in the world
The Jabiluka deposit was discovered in 1971, some 20 km’s across Ranger. Surrounded by the national Karakadu national park, the mining area adjoins the ranger lease. It has more than 130000 tonnes of uranium deposits, plus its high grade uranium as well.
There are economic benefits of mining uranium as well. Hundreds of people are provided job opportunities. The mining generates Australia $ 21 million in royalties per year.
All of the uranium excavated in Australia is exported and strictly for power generation only, and its ensured well that it’s done for this purpose only. Australia is a member of Non Proliferation- Treaty and is a non-nuclear state.
There is a great deal of value attached to Australian uranium reserves. In 2009 they reached a peak of Australian $ 1.1 billion. The following nations purchase Australia’s uranium. These include
- South Korea
Australia is the preferred supplier of uranium to the world. It is especially popular with the East Asian markets, the demand for the products in on a continuous rise. The biggest buyer of minerals from Australia is China.