BHP: leaving Yeelirrie uranium in the ground makes economic sense

The Australian Greens welcome indications that BHP may be abandoning plans for its Yeelirrie uranium mine.

“The political and community backlash in WA is indeed significant” Senator Scott Ludlam said today, citing the story in today’s West Australian.

“The WA community, our churches, unions, environment and women’s groups remain firmly opposed. Aboriginal people from all over the state are united in their determination to stop their land and water being contaminated by uranium mining.  As the WA Nuclear  Free Alliance gathering in April concluded, “We can’t close the gap by increasing the number of radioactive holes in the ground.”

“Australian uranium exporters and investors are uniquely vulnerable to the volatile and unpredictable nuclear industry that has never lived up to the promises it has made in the past,” Senator Ludlam continued.

“The largest mining company in the world is watching the impact of the Fukushima disaster: the German government has decided to phase out nuclear power by 2022.  The Swiss government will phase out nuclear power permanently by 2034.  Japan has abandoned plans for nuclear energy to provide half of its capacity and has scrapped 14 planned new reactors. The Mayor of Osaka City, KEPCo's biggest shareholder, has called on KEPCo to abandon nuclear energy. The Chinese State Council has also put an embargo on approval of new reactors.

“The nuclear renaissance is dead. The nuclear industry was in enormous trouble well before the disaster at the Fukushima complex.  As at 1 April 2011 there were 437 nuclear plants operating in the world, seven fewer than in 2002. In 2008 for the first time since the beginning of the nuclear age no new unit was started up.

Seven new plants were added in 2009 and 2010 while 11 were shut down over that period.”

“The only future the nuclear industry has is in long-term intergenerational waste management and stewardship of the extraordinary categories of toxic and poisonous waste it produces. The reckless pursuit of electricity too cheap to meter must finally be set aside as the pipedream that it always was,” Senator Ludlam concluded.

“The Brendan Grylls deal over uranium royalties, to form a coalition government with Colin Barnett must now be seen for what it has created: an uranium feeding frenzy that had no substance,” said Robin Chapple, Greens MLC for the Mining and Pastoral Region.

For comment call: Senator Scott Ludlam (02) 6277 3467 Robin Chapple MLC (08) 9486 8255

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