Today the Environment Centre NT is very happy to share some great news and to thank the thousands of dedicated supporters who have campaigned alongside us to end uranium mining inside Kakadu National Park.
On Friday June 12 Energy Resources of Australia, operator of the controversial Ranger uranium mine, announced plans to cancel its contested underground expansion proposal – Ranger 3 Deeps.
Kakadu’s unique environmental and cultural values for which it has recognised World Heritage status are deserving of the highest protection. Uranium mining inside Kakadu never made environmental sense, but the announcement to shelve Ranger 3 Deeps is a welcome and long-overdue announcement that it also no longer makes economic sense.
The Environment Centre NT wholeheartedly welcomes a statement by Mirarr Traditional Owners supporting full rehabilitation and restating their fundamental opposition to the development of the Jabiluka uranium deposit inside Kakadu, also held by ERA.
In a statement Mirarr Traditional Owners said:
“We will not support any extended term of mining at Ranger beyond 2021…. because of our experience of 30 years of environmental and cultural impacts at Ranger, and because in our talks with Rio Tinto and the Australian government we have been given no guarantee that Ranger will be the last uranium mine in Kakadu. We need to see a concrete and comprehensive commitment and plan for the clean up of Kakadu; that commitment and planning needs to start today.”
Members and supporters of the Environment Centre have a long and proud history standing alongside the Mirarr and wider Australian community to achieve these aims, from the earliest days of the establishment of Kakadu National Park and the Jabiluka blockade until this week’s landmark announcement.
In recent years the Environment Centre NT has campaigned for an assurance that ERA’s parent company Rio Tinto would guarantee costs for the complex task of rehabilitation are borne by the company and not the public. We are very pleased to see that ERA has sought formal assurance from Rio Tinto to secure those costs.
This announcement means we are a now one very big step closer to a nuclear-free Kakadu, and a renewable future for the Northern Territory. The challenge now is to ensure that the Ranger site and Jabiluka lease is returned to the Mirarr Traditional Owners and incorporated into the surrounding Kakadu National Park to protect it permanently from mining.
The Environment Centre will continue to work with the Mirarr Traditional Owners and our regional and national partners in the transition to a post-mining regional economy and in helping to protect Kakadu.
The news is worthy of celebration, but the Environment Centre NT will be closely watching ERA and Rio Tinto to ensure that the final remaining radioactive holes in the heart of Kakadu – Ranger and Jabiluka – are healed permanently.
Thank you to all the dedicated campaigners, community members and partners who have contributed to the campaign over the years, particularly Di Koser, Emma King, Cat Beaton, Justin Tutty, Donna Jackson and Larrakia Nation, past and present members of the Anti-Nuclear NT Collective and Australian Nuclear-Free Alliance, Dr Gavin Mudd and Dr Geoff Kyle, Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, Friends of the Earth, Public Health Association of Australia (NT Branch), and the Australian Conservation Foundation for their ongoing support.
Anna Boustead Lauren Mellor
Acting Director Nuclear-Free Campaigner