Mining industry welcomes nuclear energy review

Mining industry welcomes nuclear energy review

The mining industry has welcomed the review of nuclear energy in Australia, saying the debate so far has been hijacked by misinformation.

Dr Ziggy Switkowski’s report found nuclear energy is a practical option and could feed into the electricity grid in a decade.

The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies says 450 reactors provide electricity worldwide and several hundred more will be built soon.

Spokesman Ian Loftus says there needs to be a rational debate about the issue.

“I read in the newspapers and in various other media fairly frequently about the three-eyed fish debates about nuclear power, nuclear power and nuclear waste in people’s backyard,” Mr Loftus said.

Mr Loftus says the debate in Australia has been hijacked by misinformation.

“Nuclear power always seems to be the classic NIMBY- not in my backyard issue,” he said.

“In Australia the debate hasn’t really reached the level of maturity that [it] does have in places like Europe.

“Places like France, as I said, have close to 80 per cent of their power generated through nuclear electricity.”

The Australian Uranium Association’s executive director, Michael Angwin, has welcomed the report and hopes it leads to more debate about the issue.

“There are many aspects of nuclear fuel cycle about which Australians would like to know more,” Mr Angwin said.

“And to that extent the report which Dr Switkowski has released today will be a great contribution to the understanding of the nuclear fuel cycle.”

Dr Switkowski’s review found uranium production would ease the problem of greenhouse gas emissions but will not meet the challenge on its own and the priority should continue to be on reducing carbon emissions from coal and gas.

At between 20 to 50 per cent more expensive than conventional power, Dr Switkowski says nuclear energy would only be competitive in Australia if there were a recognised cost for greenhouse gas emissions.

The review also found the domestic processing of uranium, including conversion and enrichment, would add a further $1.8 billion to the sector annually.
‘Election strategy’

The Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, says he will carefully study the report, but he remains opposed to nuclear power for Australia.

Mr Beattie is suspicious about the Federal Government’s motivation behind the report.

“I think what happened is that the Federal Government has done some research which shows the biggest single issue in the next federal election campaign is climate change, and what they’ve been doing is conning everyone ever since,” Mr Beattie said.

“The whole strategy about this is designed to get re-elected, it’s not about energy or climate change.”

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