NT News: Jabiru jump start in wake of toxic spill

Publish Date:
10th April 2014

By Connor Byrne

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URANIUM producer Energy Resources Australia is preparing to get its Jabiru plant running again after a leach tank ruptured and spilt a million litres of toxic slurry at the Ranger mine in December. Board members voted its readiness plan to be complete this month at the annual general meeting in SkyCity Casino in Darwin yesterday. But the Rio Tinto-owned plant must still get regulator approval from the NT and federal governments. Chief executive Andrea Sutton said in her address: “With the leach tank incident in December there were questions raised about our environmental performance. “Ongoing monitoring has confirmed that the surrounding area has not been affected and that there has been no impact on Kakadu National Park.”

“In addition to the operational impact of the leach tank incident and suspension of processing the overall business environment for uranium producers remains difficult. “The uranium market remains weak for producers with low spot prices continuing.

“Given this challenging business environment ERA has continued to focus on re-shaping the business for leaner operations. “The business review conducted in 2011 targeted $150 million in cost savings by the end of 2014 and we are well on track to reaching those targeted savings” ERA is constructing its $120 million Ranger 3 Deeps mine But Environment Centre NT – which is a proxy shareholder had representatives in the meeting and were protesting on the lawn outside all day. ECNT anti-nuclear campaigner Cat Beaton said she questioned the funding availability for rehabilitation, as the annual report indicated there may not be enough money to rehabilitate unless the Ranger 3 Deeps mine is developed. “That’s an issue that makes us very nervous,” she said.

ECNT director Stuart Blanch, also in the meeting, said: “They were being evasive and said they clearly don’t have money in the bank. “It’s R3 Deeps or inadequate rehab. Gun to the head. It’s a business in terminal decline unable to change it’s course.”