Australia’s uranium industry is set for a strong future, federal resources and energy minister Gary Gray has claimed.
Speaking at the Australian Uranium and Rare Earths Conference in Fremantle on Wednesday (July 17), the politician argued that the country is excellently placed to take advantage of a boost in market conditions for the commodity.
“Australia is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of uranium with 33 per cent of the world’s uranium resources,” he explained.
Mr Gray admitted there had been some slowdown in the sector over the last few years.
The industry was hit particularly hard by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.
However, he said there were two central drivers of nuclear power growth that continue to have positive indications for uranium.
The first is rising energy demand from growing populations, the minister commented, while the other is the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Australia is in a strong position to maximise these opportunities,” Mr Gray stated.
China and India were highlighted as countries expected to help boost uranium demand, with the two nations due to bring 35 reactors online in the next 20 years.
“Australia already supplies around 22 per cent of China’s uranium and negotiations are underway with India for a bilateral safeguards agreement which will pave the way for significant exports in the future,” he stated.
Other countries on the radar include Russia, which received its first shipment of Australian uranium for civil nuclear facilities last year.
Mr Gray said the industry must ensure it creates enough new mines to meet demand for the material as it gains in popularity over the next few years.
It is important for industry and government to partner up on ventures that help mining, processing, commercial and regulatory actions attain best practice for continued expansion in the sector, he concluded.