Green group raise toxic leak concern at NT mine
ENVIRONMENTAL groups have raised concerns that remnants of a tailings dam at the closing Ranger Uranium Mine site could leak toxic contaminants into Kakadu National Park.
The issue was raised in a new report released today by the University of Sydney, Australian Conservation Foundation, Mineral Policy Institute and the Environment Centre NT.
The report, which reviews the 2020 Ranger Mine Closure Plan, said a proposal to leave the floor of a tailing dam on site after the mine's closure next month risks contaminants entering the surrounding Kakadu National Park.
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However, operator of the Ranger Uranium Mine, Energy Resources Australia (ERA), has reassured residents that it is "unequivocally committed to best-in-class rehabilitation of the site and subsequent monitoring".
Work at the mine must end in January 2021 after traditional owners rejected continued mining at the site in 2015, and rehabilitating the mine is expected to cost about $808m.
The report's co-author, Dr Rebecca Lawrence from the University of Sydney, claims that "uncertainty" around the adequacy of the mine's rehabilitation financing was a problem.
"There is a requirement to isolate mining tailings for 10,000 years, but how can that be done without any funds earmarked for monitoring or post-closure management?" she said.
It comes after ERA recently moved more than 13 million tonnes of bulk material to complete the backfill of Ranger Uranium Mine's Pit 1 in preparation of revegetation.
ERA also published an update on the first plantings on rehabilitated land this year.
Some of the seedlings were grown from seeds sown by the public at the 2019 Mahbilil Festival.
The details were contained in ERA's updated closure plan for Ranger.
The plan is updated annually in accordance with regulatory requirements and in consultation with traditional owner representatives, regulators and other parties.
The Ranger mine 230km east of Darwin is surrounded by Kakadu National Park and has been the subject of protests for decades.
It is Australia's longest continually operating uranium mine, with more than 130,000 tonnes of uranium oxide produced in 35 years.
It has produced $1bn in dividends, another $1bn in tax and half a billion dollars in royalties to Aboriginal interests and the government.
Originally published as Green group raise toxic leak concern at NT mine