Firebrand MP uncovers Qld’s $10bn nuclear plan

Calls are mounting for the government to unlock Queensland's $10bn uranium reserves and deliver an economic windfall for the state.

Nationals Senator Matt Canavan, one of five federal MPs to this week reignite debate about nuclear power, has called on the state government to lift a ban preventing 166m tonnes of uranium ore deposits from being mined.

The LNP Government removed Queensland's two-decade ban on uranium mining in 2012, only to have it reintroduced by the Palaszczuk Government in 2015.

The reintroduction was a blow to the resources sector, which hoped the extraction of uranium ore deposits would create thousands of jobs.

Senator Canavan said the state should remove the mining restriction and investigate reopening Mount Isa's Mary Kathleen uranium mine.

"I don't like any kind of statewide ban on activity," he said

"If there's a viable case for the Mary Kathleen mine to open let's get it done."

 

The abandoned Mary Kathleen Uranium mine west of Cloncurry, which has become an Instagram sensation and outback tourism attraction due to its electric blue colour. Picture: Lachie Millard
The abandoned Mary Kathleen Uranium mine west of Cloncurry, which has become an Instagram sensation and outback tourism attraction due to its electric blue colour. Picture: Lachie Millard

 

Uranium was extracted at the Mary Kathleen mine between 1958 and 1982 but it has been dormant since.

"We're the world's third-largest uranium producer … why say no when it could help our economic recovery out of COVID-19," Senator Canavan said.

Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said Queenslanders had "emphatically rejected nuclear power time and time again".

"Today's revelation flies in the face of every State and Territory's nuclear ban," he said.

"Inner city Liberals are pushing renewables, Nationals are nuclear and the result is the lack of a coherent national energy policy.

"Manufacturing and resources companies are investing in cheaper, cleaner energy to grow jobs in Queensland by investing in renewables, not old fashioned, dangerous options."

A spokesman for Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said Mr Crisafulli shared the Prime Minister's view that nuclear energy would not be progressed "unless there is bipartisan support with Labor".

 

Senator Matthew Canavan wants an investigation into nuclear power in Australia. Picture Gary Ramage
Senator Matthew Canavan wants an investigation into nuclear power in Australia. Picture Gary Ramage

 

Griffith University Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe said the lengthy time to construct a nuclear plant and subsidies required to make it cost efficient meant the source was unviable.

"It's much more cost effective to build large scale solar and wind and supplement that with storage," he said.

"The economics of solar and wind have got consistently better and the economics of nuclear have got steadily worse."

Queensland earns royalties from the extraction of coal, precious metals, bauxite, petroleum and gas and other minerals.

The state's coal royalties are expected to halve to $1.6bn this financial year - largely due to lower coal prices - before increasing to $2.3bn in 2021-22 financial year.

 

Originally published as Firebrand MP uncovers Qld's $10bn nuclear plan


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