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Friday, September 25, 2009

Uranium mine told to address dust risks

Uranium mine told to address dust risks


BHP Billiton told to address dust risks from any uranium mining expansion
(user submitted; file photo: Randall Crozier)

Issues such as dust risks from a planned expansion of BHP Billiton's uranium mining operations in outback South Australia will have to be addressed by the company.

SA's Mineral Resources Development Minister Paul Holloway has told the SA Parliament BHP Billiton will need to prepare a supplementary environmental impact statement addressing dust management.

Mr Holloway says dust obviously could be a problem but the issue is able to be resolved.

He says the company will have to give an assurance it can manage dust from proposed open cut mining before permission is given for expansion of its Olympic Dam uranium, copper and gold mine at Roxby Downs.

The minister says there have been more than 4,000 submissions about the likely environmental impact of an Olympic Dam expansion.

Academy Award-nominated documentary maker David Bradbury claimed this week that red dust dumped onto east coast cities was a reason to be concerned about BHP Billiton's proposal to turn its uranium mine into an open cut operation.
He has made four documentaries on nuclear issues and says figures in the company's environmental impact study suggest 70 million tonnes of radioactive tailings will be dumped at the mine site annually.

He says the tailings contain alpha radiation, which is known to be carcinogenic to humans and animals.

 

Waste pile

 

The Greens say the dangers of an Olympic Dam mine expansion spreading radioactive dust across wide areas of Australia will be an issue for centuries to come.
SA Greens MP Mark Parnell says a mine expansion would create the biggest radioactive waste pile ever seen.

"What we've seen from this extreme weather in recent days is that dust can go everywhere - it could end up on Eyre Peninsula, it could end up on the eastern seaboard," he said.

"BHP Billiton must be forced by the [SA] Government to manage radioactive waste, stockpiles and their tailings forever."






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