Trade minister Andrew Robb speaking during a press conference in Canberra, Monday, Feb 17, 2014. Mr Robb commented on the Korea Australia free trade agreement.
Trade minister Andrew Robb speaking during a press conference in Canberra, Monday, Feb 17, 2014. Mr Robb commented on the Korea Australia free trade agreement. AAP Image - Alan Porritt

Australia signs off on uranium deal with the Abu Dhabi

THE energy rich provinces of the United Arab Emirates are going increasingly nuclear, and Australia is offering to help.

Trade Minister Andrew Robb signed a Nuclear Cooperation deal in Abu Dhabi, with the hope of sending 800 tonnes of uranium to the Emirates from 2020.

It is good timing, with Queensland and New South Wales governments relaxing long-held bans on uranium exploration in the past three years.

The NSW Government, however, has no intention to go any further than simply allowing companies to comb the landscape for the radioactive material.

A spokesman for NSW Resources Minister Andrew Roberts said while uranium exploration has been allowed since 2012, it has not begun.

A ban on mining uranium remained.

The Queensland Government would prefer miners to dig it up, the sooner the better.

Mines Minister Andrew Cripps is overseeing new regulation for uranium mining, expected to be in use from July.

The speed at which the state can build an industry around the nuclear fuel is unclear.

Mr Cripps said Queensland will only be able to export uranium once private companies decide to go for it.

"We have been working hard to unlock natural resources to drive economic development and plan for future generations," Mr Cripps said.

The "in-ground value" of uranium reserves in Queensland is estimated by Mr Cripps to be worth $10 billion.


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