ERA: Nuclear should be part of Australia’s energy mix

The Ranger mine packing facility with drums of uranium oxide (U3O8 ) ready for export. Image: ERA

Nuclear should be part of the solution to fix the energy crisis in Australia, according to Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) chairman Peter Mansell.

ERA has operated the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory for more than 35 years.

Ranger is one of only a few mines in the world to produce more than 120,000 tonnes of uranium oxide.

Speaking at ERA’s Annual General Meeting last week, Mr Mansell questioned why nuclear energy had not been the subject of a mature discussion in Australia.

“Australia is home to 31 per cent of the world’s known uranium resources. Yet, all of the uranium that we produce is exported, under strict safeguards,” he said.

“None is used domestically. Developed countries such as the United States, Japan, France and Germany buy Australian uranium to power their nuclear plants.

“This raises a few questions ­­– if Australia has such vast resources of uranium oxide, and if Australia has the energy generation crisis that we all know it has, why doesn’t Australia include nuclear energy as part of its mix for baseload power supply?

“If we in Australia are that concerned about the impact of climate change, why is nuclear energy not the subject of a mature discussion?”

Mr Mansell said while ERA had always supported the use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power in the energy mix, they lack reliability and capacity to support baseload supply.

“Nuclear is one of the few energy sources which can provide a continuous, reliable baseload supply, without any environmental damage,” Mr Hansell said.

“We are seeing China and India increasingly turning to nuclear as part of their energy mix to support their growing economies and population, as well as their need to be environmentally supportive and internationally competitive.

“To be internationally competitive and environmentally responsible we have to have low cost, low emission, secure and efficient energy generation.”