NT News: A range of reasons to wait for spill finds

Publish Date:
13th April 2014

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KAKADU traditional owners have felt threatened to support a proposed underground uranium mine or else there may not be enough money to rehabilitate the existing Ranger mine. Energy Resources Australia hold the lease until 2021 but must appease traditional owners to extend it. Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation has said the Jabiru mine, currently in shut-down after a leach tank collapsed and spilt a million litres of toxic slurry on to the mine site in December, cannot be rushed into reopening. The company said last week it was getting ready to reopen, pending the outcome of the spill investigation. The company’s 2013 annual report says: “If the Ranger 3Deeps mine is not developed, in the absence of any other successful development, ERA may require an additional source of funding to fully fund the rehabilitation of the Ranger project area.”

Gundjeihmi AboriginalCorporation chief executive Justin O’Brien said: “I would think that a 68 per cent-owned subsidiary of Rio Tinto would have money.“Somebody better have money. It’s one of the most outrageous things we’ve seen from them. “It’s seen as some sort of ham-fisted threat. That’s how people are seeing it out here.”

ERA chief executive Andrea Sutton has denied it was a threat, telling ABC 7.30 NT that it had funding in its current budget for rehabilitation. Mr OBrien said ERAs comment about getting ready to restart production after the spill in the mine, which is surrounded by Kakadu National Park, would not affect the speed of the investigation.