HOME   WISE Uranium Project   >   Mining & Milling   >   Issues   >

Decommissioning Projects - Australia   flag

(last updated 4 Apr 2024)


(Maps and boundary data are copyrighted by FOTW - Flags Of The World web site)

Site Index:
Hunters Hill · Kakadu (old tailings) · Lake Way · Mary Kathleen · Nabarlek · Port Pirie · Radium Hill · Ranger · Rum Jungle · Sleisbeck

> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Northern Territory

General · Kakadu old tailings · Nabarlek · Ranger · Rum Jungle · Sleisbeck
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Ranger, Northern Territory

ERA appoints Rio Tinto to manage rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine

On Apr. 3, 2024, ERA announced that it has appointed Rio Tinto to manage the Ranger Rehabilitation Project under a new Management Services Agreement (MSA). Rio Tinto owns 86.3% of ERA's shares.
The MSA is expected to be implemented in the 2nd quarter of 2024, with the transition period expected to take 2 to 3 months.
Under the MSA, Rio Tinto will, on ERA's behalf and in accordance with plans and budgets approved by the ERA Board, manage all aspects of the rehabilitation of Ranger, including project management and execution of all rehabilitation activities.

ERA expects to increase provision for rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine from A$1.5 billion to A$2.3 billion

The Board of Directors of ERA currently expect to record a provision of approximately [A]$2.3 billion [US$ 1.51 billion] based on available information at this stage, up from [A]$1.5 billion in HY23. (ERA Dec. 12, 2023)

Rehabilitation cost for Ranger uranium mine expected to increase further

[...] the Company now expects the total rehabilitation costs to materially exceed the previous estimated range of [A]$1.6 billion to [A]$2.2 billion. In addition, it is expected that the final completion date will also be delayed. (ERA Sep. 26, 2023)

Rehabilitation cost for Ranger uranium mine increases to US$ 1.41 billion

[...] in 2023 the cost of closure estimate has increased by [A]$368 million [US$ 238 million] which brings the total cost of completing the rehabilitation to [A]$2.18 billion [US$ 1.41 billion] resulting in ERA recording an increase to the closure provision estimate of $313 million [to [A]$1,446 million [US$ 937 million]]. (ERA Aug. 30, 2023)

Traditional owners want more assurances that Jabiluka uranium deposit won't ever be mined

> View here

ERA authorized to draw down from insufficient Ranger Rehabilitation Trust Fund

Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) has received confirmation from the Commonwealth, that its application for a Ranger Mine Closure Interim Payment from the Ranger Rehabilitation Trust Fund has been approved by the Minister for Resources and Minister for Northern Australia.
The application relates to rehabilitation activities that have already been completed at Ranger for the period 9 January 2021 to 30 June 2022. The interim drawdown amount is [A]$56.8 million and ERA expects to receive these funds in November 2022. After drawdown, the sum of [A]$481 million will remain in the Ranger Rehabilitation Trust Fund. (ERA Nov. 2, 2022)

ERA releases update to closure plan for Ranger uranium mine

On Sep. 30, 2022, Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) announced the release of an update to the Ranger Mine Closure Plan. The Plan is updated annually in consultation with Traditional Owner representatives, regulators and key stakeholders.
> Access 2022 Ranger Mine Closure Plan update (ERA)

Rio Tinto and Traditional Owners fuming over ERA's suggestion to mine Jabiluka deposit

Majority shareholder Rio Tinto has blasted Energy Resources Australia [ERA] over suggestions the Jabiluka uranium deposit could one day be mined despite fierce opposition from traditional owners, who have drawn parallels with Juukan Gorge [a 46,000-year-old sacred site in Western Australia destroyed by Rio Tinto in 2020].
Rio chief executive, Australia, Kellie Parker said she was increasingly frustrated and losing confidence in ERA, which this week released an independent expert's report putting a value of up to [A]$1.28 billion [US$ 825 million] on Jabiluka and other deposits within the World Heritage-listed Kakadu national park.
The row comes with ERA facing what could blow out to a [A]$2 billion [US$ 1.3 billion] rehabilitation bill for the shutdown of Ranger uranium mine near Jabiluka and also on the traditional lands of the Mirarr people. (AFR Sep. 29, 2022)
> Download: Independent Valuation Report , Sep. 26, 2022 (7MB PDF)

On Oct. 2, 2022, Rio Tinto announced that it "has requested the resignation of Energy Resources of Australia's (ERA) Chairman Peter Mansell to allow for board renewal and introduce new perspectives to address the material cost and schedule overruns on the critical Ranger rehabilitation project in Australia's Northern Territory."

On Oct. 6, 2022, ERA's chairman, Peter Mansell, and two other directors without ties to Rio Tinto resigned, after securing a A$100 million [US$ 64.8 million] loan from Rio Tinto to allow ERA to continue with rehabilitation work. As part of the funding deal, ERA hasagreed to ignore the independent experts' report and its valuation it placedon the uranium deposits. (ABC News Oct. 6, 2022)

Bill would allow rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine to breach 2026 deadline

Proposed laws introduced to federal parliament on Thursday (Sep. 8) allow the clean up of the Ranger uranium mine to breach the current 2026 deadline.
Minister for Resources Madeleine King said the bill is the first step to extend the miner's authority to keep working on the rehabilitation until the work is complete. (AAP Sep. 8, 2022)
The Atomic Energy Act Amendments Bill 2022 passed on Nov. 24, 2022.

ERA fails to raise A$ 300 million in interim funding for rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine

ERA has been engaging with its three largest shareholders in relation to a proposed non-underwritten, renounceable entitlement offer, which would seek to raise approximately [A]$300 million [US$ 208 million] in interim funding required to continue with planned Ranger rehabilitation works on an optimised basis until the end of 2023 (Interim Entitlement Offer). [...]
However, following engagement with ERA's three largest shareholders, no pre-commitments to subscribe for entitlements in the Interim Entitlement Offer were forthcoming on the IBC [ERA's Independent Board Committee] proposed terms from either Rio Tinto or the two next largest shareholders. As a consequence, the IBC does not have sufficient confidence that proceeding with the Interim Entitlement Offer on the terms it had proposed will raise the necessary funds. [...]
Given the above, the IBC has determined that it will delay the launch of the Interim Entitlement Offer [...]. (ERA July 28, 2022)

Rehabilitation cost for Ranger uranium mine explodes to A$ 1.6 - 2.2 billion

"(i) the revised total cost of completing the Ranger Project Area rehabilitation, including incurred spend from 1 January 2019, is forecast to be approximately between $1.6 billion and $2.2 billion. The previously announced closure estimate, which was based on the Ranger Project Area closure Feasibility Study finalised in 2019, was $973 million; and
(ii) the revised date for completing the Ranger Project Area rehabilitation is forecast to be between Quarter 4, 2027 and Quarter 4, 2028." (ERA Feb. 2, 2022)

ERA warns against cost and schedule overruns for rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine

As previously announced to the market in July 2021, Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) is conducting a reforecast of both cost and schedule data in relation to the calculation of the rehabilitation provision for the Ranger Project Area.
While work on this reforecast is continuing, it is becoming apparent that there will be cost and schedule overruns. The full extent of these overruns is not yet known. (ERA Sep. 27, 2021, emphasis added)

While ERA is not yet in a position to provide estimates with an acceptable degree of confidence, it has become apparent that the cost and schedule overruns will be material. (ERA Oct. 8, 2021, emphasis added)

Whilst ERA is still not yet in a position to provide estimates with an acceptable degree of confidence, the progress of that work has identified that both the cost and schedule overruns in executing the current Mine Closure Plan are expected to be significant, relative to the findings of the Ranger Project Area closure feasibility study. (ERA Nov. 19, 2021, emphasis added)


Uranium mining town Jabiru handed back to Traditional Owners

For four decades the Mirarr people, led by senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula, have been calling for the town of Jabiru, inside World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, to be returned to its rightful custodians.
At a handback ceremony on Saturday (June 26), their decades-long fight for recognition of their traditional ownership over Jabiru culminated in the grant of freehold title over the town, the first of its kind in Australia. (Sydney Morning Herald June 26, 2021)

> View older issues


Rum Jungle, Northern Territory

> Aerial view: Google Maps

Funding agreement signed for further rehabilitation of former Rum Jungle uranium mine

Stage 3 of the Rum Jungle rehabilitation project has started after the federal government signed a funding agreement for the project.
Stage 3 of the Rum Jungle rehabilitation project is the implementation phase of physical site works which will include groundwater and surface water treatment, bulk earthworks to deconstruct existing waste rock dumps and reform storage facilities for chemically and physically safe long-term storage, and establish cover systems for new storage facilities. The programme of work will also include pit backfilling with lime amended rock and establishing cover system, realignment of water course and installation of erosion and sediment control features including fish passage features, and the establishment, operation and closure of clean fill excavation pits. (Mining Weekly Nov. 4, 2022)

The story of Rum Jungle: how the rehabilitation of the former uranium mine went wrong, and what will be done better this time

> View: The story of Rum Jungle: a Cold War-era uranium mine that's spewed acid into the environment for decades , by Gavin Mudd, in: The Conversation, May 18, 2021

Rehabilitation plan for former Rum Jungle uranium mine expected to receive environmental approval later this year

The rehabilitation plan proposes to treat and co-localise contamination sources to waste storage structures, remediate impacted groundwater and revegetate the site using local indigenous plant species.
"Work will get underway once the plan receives an expected environmental approval later this year," Minister Pitt added. (Keith Pitt May 12, 2021)

Rum Jungle uranium mine rehabilitation jeopardised by NT Resources Department, traditional owners warn

The long-awaited $300 million rehabilitation of the abandoned Rum Jungle uranium mine in the Top End is being jeopardised by the Northern Territory Department of Resources and the Government should find another agency to run the project, Aboriginal traditional owners have warned. The traditional owners for the mine site, about 105 kilometres south of Darwin, said they were losing faith in the department over its surprise decision to significantly downgrade the position of the senior mining scientist who'd been overseeing the rehabilitation project for the past six years.
The mine closed 47 years ago but it was never properly rehabilitated and acid and metals have been leaching into parts of the nearby Finniss River ever since. In 2009, the Federal Government began funding the NT Government to draw up a design for the full rehabilitation of the mine. For six years that work has been led by the NT Government's principal mining scientist Tania Laurencont. But Kungarakan traditional owner Helen Bishop said Ms Laurencont would soon be leaving the project because the NT Resources Department was downgrading the senior scientist role to one with a significantly reduced pay grade. In a letter to NT Resources Minister Ken Vowles in February, the committee representing the traditional owners warned the staff change would delay rehabilitation.
The breakdown in trust between traditional owners and the Department of Resources comes at a critical time for the Rum Jungle project. Not only do traditional owners need to sign off on the design for the clean-up, but the Federal Government is also yet to agree to fund the next stage - the full rehabilitation - which is expected to cost at least $300 million. The NT Department of Resources has previously said that failing to rehabilitate the mine would risk more drainage of acid and metals. Traditional owners have been calling for the rehabilitation of the site not just to protect the environment but also so the land can eventually be handed back to them to finalise their Finniss River land claim. In the early 1980s, the Rum Jungle site could not be handed back to traditional owners as part of the successful claim in case they became liable for the then notorious environmental problems. (ABC Apr. 3, 2018)

Public comment invited on Referral for Former Rum Jungle Mine Rehabilitation Project

The rehabilitation is focussed on relocating the most-reactive (acid and metalliferous drainage (AMD) forming) waste to the Main pit void, with residual waste (less reactive) being relocated to a new purpose built Waste Rock Dump (WRD) to the north. Approximately thirty percent of the total volume of waste material currently stored on site will be used to refill Main pit, significantly reducing the current above ground waste at Rum Jungle. The northern location was primarily selected for the above-ground WRD as it is positioned away from sacred sites and is not significantly affected by flood. Leading practice cover and landform designs will be developed for the WRD to prevent AMD and all previously disturbed areas will be revegetated with native species.
Deadline Date: 14 July 2016
> Download: Referral Reference No. 2016/7730 and attachments , June 2016

Rum Jungle uranium mine polluting environment 45 years after closure

The site, 100 kilometres south of Darwin, is overrun with scrubby weeds, there are two abandoned mining pits, large mounds of waste rock and the water in a diverted channel of the Finniss River is tinged orange and brown from contamination.
The mine closed 45 years ago but acid and metals are draining into the environment and the site remains off limits to the public including traditional owners.
This month's federal budget had $11 million for the NT Government to put the finishing touches on a plan for rehabilitation.
Since 2009 the Federal Government has spent $18 million on a new rehabilitation plan for Rum Jungle. The Mines Department estimates it will take another eight years to rollout that clean-up plan at a cost of more than $200 million. (ABC May 30, 2016)

A$ 200 million sought to rehabilitate former Rum Jungle uranium mine

The [Northern Territory] Department of Mines and Energy is seeking $200 million from the Federal Government to rehabilitate the former Rum Jungle mine site. Attempts to rehabilitate the site, Australia's first uranium mine, stem back to the 1970s. Scientists from the Department of Mines and Energy (DoE) have been drilling at the site over the past three weeks and analysing rock samples.
It is estimated that five million cubic metres of rock will need to be relocated or re-buried in two of the mine's deepest pits. The process is likely to take three years and cost millions, scientists say. "Everybody knows that Rum Jungle has been here for a long time, but that doesn't mean we should still sit on it for a long time," said DoE principal mining scientist Tania Laurencont. "During stage one we set that cost at just over $100m but as you work through detailed designed it's certainly looking more in the range of $200 million," she said.
Uranium and copper were mined at the site from the 1950s until the site closed in 1971. Waste rock at the site was buried but it started releasing acid and metals into the nearby East Finniss River. (ABC Oct. 31, 2014)

More funds allocated for cleanup of former Rum Jungle uranium mine

The Australian government has allocated a further A$ 14.5-million to accelerate work on the former Rum Jungle mine, in the Northern Territory. The project, which closed down in 1971, produced some 3,500 t of uranium oxide, 20,000 t of copper concentrate, as well as smaller quantities of nickel and lead. To date, the government has spent some A$ 8.3-million since 2009, to ensure that the area is rehabilitated properly. (Mining Weekly July 31, 2013)

Recreation reserve closed due to radiation from former Rum Jungle uranium mine

A Northern Territory recreational reserve where a uranium mine once operated has been closed due to low-level radiation in the area. The Rum Jungle Mine, about 100 kilometres south of Darwin, operated in the early 1960s. The area was rehabilitated in 1991 before becoming the Rum Jungle South Recreation Reserve.
The Department of Resources says tests at the waste rock pile at the reserve have detected low-level radiation. It advised the local council to shut down the reserve as a precautionary measure. A spokesman says there is no evidence of any public health risk. The Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist will do a comprehensive assessment of the site. (ABC Nov. 12, 2010)
The Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist spent the next 18 months testing air, dust, water, soil, rock and bush food samples from the area and reached the conclusion the area was safe, citing "the radiation doses received by the public are low and generally within the natural variation of typical background doses across Australia." Off the back of that report the area has been reopened. (ABC Oct. 15, 2012)

Rehabilitation of Rum Jungle mine has "clearly failed", study finds

From the abstract:
The former Rum Jungle uranium-copper project, Australia, [...] is briefly reviewed, followed by a critical evaluation of monitoring data and pollution loads prior to and after rehabilitation - leading to the conclusion that rehabilitation has clearly failed the test of time after just two decades. The most critical findings are the need to understand pollution cycles holistically, and designing monitoring regimes to match, explicit inclusion of radiological criteria (lacking in original planning), and finally the need to set targets based on environmental criteria. Two examples include polluted groundwater which was excluded from rehabilitation and the poor design, construction and/or performance of engineered soil covers - both leading to increasing acid drainage impacts on the Finniss River. [...]
Continuing pollution from the Rum Jungle U-Cu project: A critical evaluation of environmental monitoring and rehabilitation, by Mudd GM, Patterson J, in: Environmental pollution , Vol. 158, Issue 5 (May 2010), p. 12521260


Sleisbeck uranium mine pit, Northern Territory

Rare fish discovered in disused Kakadu uranium mine

A rare native fish discovered swimming in an abandoned Northern Territory uranium mine is close to being bred in captivity. The barraway's carp gudgeon was discovered in the abandoned Sleisbeck mine pit in Kakadu National Park. It is hoped captive breeding of the fish could help protect the species and provide income for traditional owners. Ornamental fish breeder Dave Wilson says he's already received enquires from overseas collectors who are keen to aquire the small rare native fish. (ABC February 25, 2008)


Nabarlek uranium mine, Northern Territory

Uranium Equities Ltd acquires Nabarlek Mining Lease

On July 1, 2008, Uranium Equities Limited advised that acquisition of Queensland Mines Pty Ltd, owner of the Nabarlek Mining Lease (MLN 962), Northern Territory, was completed on 30th June 2008. MLN 962 covers the Nabarlek Uranium Deposit which was mined by Queensland Mines Limited in the 1980s. Exploration on the Nabarlek Mining Lease will commence upon reaching agreement with the government and traditional owners' representatives.

Concern about return of clean-up bond on Nabarlek mine

The Northern Territory Government has returned 96% of a clean-up bond on the former Nabarlek uranium mine, despite scientists' warnings that progress was "far from ideal". The territory's Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development released AU$ 9.6 million of an AU$ 10 million bond in September 2003 to Pioneer International, which mined the east Arnhem Land ore body in 1979.
But it was done without consulting the commonwealth's Office of the Supervising Scientist (OSS) and despite the concerns of the OSS and other experts over rehabilitation progress on-site. Acting chief supervising scientist Alex Zapantis said the OSS was surprised to discover the territory had released the money without consultation, and raised its concerns at a meeting earlier this month.
On a recent tour of Nabarlek by the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee - an expert panel overseeing management of the region - members expressed concern at the state of the site, which was littered with mining rubbish and covered in weeds. (The Australian 18 Dec. 2003)


Tailings from old uranium mines found dispersed in Kakadu National Park (Northern Territory)

Cleanup of old uranium mine and mill sites in Kakadu National Park almost finished

The equivalent of six Olympic-size swimming pools of radioactive soil and mining equipment has been buried in Kakadu National Park. Parks Australia said it was not nuclear waste and the level of radioactivity was low. The soil and equipment had been stored in shipping containers. It has now been put in containers with a structural life of 1000 years and buried four metres down. The project to clean up abandoned uranium diggings and milling sites in the South Alligator River valley cost A$7.33 million and is almost finished. Parks Australia director Peter Cochrane said revegetation would be completed during the Dry. (Northern Territory News Mar. 13, 2010)

Old uranium mining leases to become part of Kakadu National Park

Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for Kakadu National Park, announced on June 5, 2006, that the Government would be moving to incorporate 29 mining leases into the park, adding some 466 hectares to the World Heritage Area.
The old uranium sites date back to the 1950s and 1960s, well before Kakadu became a national park and decades before it was globally recognised as a World Heritage Area for both its cultural and natural values. They include Guratba, more commonly known as Coronation Hill, one of Northern Australia's most sacred sites.
The move will ensure the effective rehabilitation of abandoned uranium sites in Kakadu's South Alligator River valley, following the Government's Budget announcement of A$7.3 million over the next four years for this work.
(The Hon Greg Hunt MP media release June 5, 2006)

Budget funds clean-up of old uranium mine sites in Kakadu National Park

Money to clean up parts of the Northern Territory's Kakadu National Park, which have been contaminated by uranium mining, has been included in the federal Budget. Treasurer Peter Costello says the Federal Government is putting more than A$ 7 million towards rehabilitating sites around the South Alligator River contaminated by uranium mining decades ago.
The Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Greg Hunt, says the Jawoyn traditional owners want radioactive material stored on-site. "They have very strong views that that which came out of the ground should return to the same place," he said. "Traditional owners have said to us they want to find a solution on-site in that part of the land." (ABC 10 May 2006)

Rockhole mine tailings washed into river

An internal report from the Office of the Supervising Scientist says tailings from an old uranium mine in Kakadu National Park are being washed into the river system and on to a tourist road. The report, obtained by the ABC, says tailings from the Rockhole mine which have risen to the surface are being washed into the South Alligator River and are mixing with the dust on the Gunlom Falls Road. (ABC News 6 June 2000)

More radiation found in Kakadu

Low-level radiation has been identified at other former uranium mine sites in Kakadu National Park. Australia's Nuclear Safety Agency director, Peter Burns, says rehabilitation work at some of the old mines was inadequate, and at others, tailings have reached the surface. (ABC News 9 June 2000)

Radioactive waste removed from Kakadu

The managers of Kakadu National Park are removing some radioactive residue from the south of the park. A consultant's report on the remediation work needed is due in November 2000.
Material is being removed from the area between the Gunlom Road and the South Alligator River. It is planned this year to put some protective rock over the residues so they can't be any further eroded and so they can't end up in the South Alligator River. Also, some small quantities of residues are being picked up and are to be put in drums to stop them being dispersed into the environment. (ABC News 24 Oct 2000)



General · Mary Kathleen
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Mary Kathleen uranium mine, Queensland

Study shows potential for recovery of rare earth elements from Mary Kathleen uranium mill tailings

This work highlights the potential for the 'economic rehabilitation' of the Mary Kathleen Mine, a relinquished uranium (U) mine with very high (~3 wt%) total REE concentrations within the tailings storage facility (TSF). Leaching of the tailings revealed that approximately 5% of the REEs are water-soluble, suggesting the possibility for in situ extraction. Using an in situ water leach, the projected total REE recovery is >10,000 t, which would exceed the total amount of U recovered (7,532 t) during the initial mining operation.
A. Levett, A. van der Ent, T. R. Jones, et al.: Water-soluble rare earth elements (REEs) recovered from uranium tailings , in: Minerals Engineering 210 (2024) 108675, aheadofprint

Queensland Government invites tender for reopening of abandoned Mary Kathleen uranium mine

[...] Minister Cripps also announced the release of the abandoned Mary Kathleen Mine, near Mount Isa, for competitive tender for rare earths exploration. (Qld government Aug. 1, 2014)

State Government plans to rehabilitate former Mary Kathleen uranium mine

The former Mary Kathleen uranium mine was visited by government officials last week after the state announced its intention to rehabilitate the site of Queensland's last functioning uranium mine.
Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps said Abandoned Mine Lands program officers from the Department and the Geological Survey of Queensland would conduct in-depth field assessments later this month, including drilling at the tailings dam. "This work will enable the Department to gain a better understanding of the current condition of the abandoned mine," he said.
Mr Cripps said the activities were not a signal that mining may be permitted to occur at the former Mary Kathleen mine, stating the site was under a Restricted Area (RA 232) which means that mineral exploration and production tenures are prohibited. (The North West Star Jun. 11, 2013)

Queensland's last uranium mine at Mary Kathleen still leaking radioactive water 30 years after production stopped

The state's last uranium mine at Mary Kathleen - in the Selwyn Range between Mount Isa and Cloncurry - is still leaking radioactive water from the site 30 years after production stopped. But, according to a committee report handed to the State Government this week, the return of uranium mining to Queensland is "risky but manageable".
The report says the Mary Kathleen mine's pit is still full of highly contaminated water to a depth of about 50m, and since the mine closed in 1982, several other studies have found "ongoing environmental legacy issues". Those include the seepage of acidic, metal-rich, radioactive waters from the base of the tailings dam into the former evaporation ponds and local drainage system. Surface waters downstream of the mine's tailings dam have concentrations of contaminants that exceed the Australian water quality guideline values for livestock drinking water. (Courier Mail March 21, 2013)

Queensland government investigates opportunity of rare earth recovery from Mary Kathleen uranium mill tailings

Investigations are under way into how to mine one of Australia's largest rare earth deposits, despite its location in the restricted access zone of an abandoned uranium mine. The resource is located in the tailings dam of the Mary Kathleen mine in north-west Queensland, but the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines is looking into ways of mining it safely. Mines Minister Andrew Cripps says it's too valuable to leave undeveloped. "There are seven million tonnes of ore tailings stored on the Mary Kathleen site and those tailings are estimated to contain approximately 3 per cent of rare earth oxides," he said. "The value of the resource we expect to be about $4 billion with a potential royalty to the state of Queensland of $100 million." (ABC Dec. 6, 2012)

Study finds toxicity risk to grazing animals on rehabilitated Mary Kathleen uranium mine site

From the abstract:
[...] the shrub Calotropis procera has colonised the rehabilitated Mary Kathleen uranium mine site, northwest Queensland, Australia. [...] A comparison of the concentrations of elements in the plant's biomass with maximum allowable dietary levels in the feed of cattle revealed that C. procera acquires natural enrichments of Ca, K, Mg and S in its tissue on background and mine soils, potentially causing harmful effects on stock and wildlife feeding on it.
Colonisation of the rehabilitated Mary Kathleen uranium mine site (Australia) by Calotropis procera: Toxicity risk to grazing animals, by Bernd G. Lottermoser, in: Journal of Geochemical Exploration, Vol. 111, Issues 1-2 (Oct.-Nov. 2011), p. 3946

People swimming in old mine and tailings dam

State Member for Mount Isa Tony McGrady says people are ignoring warning signs at the Mary Kathleen open cut and tailings dam. McGrady says he is concerned about the number of people still swimming at the old uranium mine between Mount Isa and Cloncurry. "Commonsense should dictate to people that if you are in the workings of an old abandoned uranium mine site and there's quite a substantial amount of water you should not swim in that tailing dam or any other part of the mine site where there is water," he said. (ABC 26 Oct. 2004)


West Australia

General · Lake Way
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Lake Way uranium mine, West Australia

High radiation levels found at former Lake Way uranium mine

Radiation levels more than 100 times normal background readings have been recorded at an old uranium site, despite the area being "cleaned" a decade ago. Greens MP Robin Chapple said radiation at the former uranium exploration site, near the Lake Way, 11 km from Wiluna, peaked at 143 times the normal range for that area last week. (Perth Now July 21, 2010)

On a recent research trip to remote communities in the Goldfields, members of the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA discovered rusting tins of uranium ore and a dismantled sign reading "danger - low level radiation ore exposed" at the site, 18 km from Wiluna.
They also recorded high levels of radiation at the site using a Geiger counter. Since the discovery, Greens MLC Giz Watson has demanded the immediate fencing off of the area and clean-up of radioactive material. (Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA Aug. 23, 2000)


South Australia

General · Port Pirie · Radium Hill
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Radium Hill uranium mine, South Australia

> View PIRSA announcements

PIRSA issues Radium Hill management plan Phase 1

Radium Hill - Uranium mine and low-level radioactive waste repository, Management Plan, Phase 1 - Preliminary Investigation 2004, by M. McLeary, Report Book 2004/9, Primary Industries and Resources South Australia
> Download full report (4.5MB PDF)


Port Pirie uranium treatment plant, South Australia

> View PIRSA announcements

PIRSA issues Port Pirie management plan Phase 1

Port Pirie uranium treatment plant, Management Plan, Phase 1 - Preliminary Investigation 2004, by M. McLeary, Report Book 2004/10, Primary Industries and Resources South Australia
> Download full report (7MB PDF)


New South Wales

General · Hunters Hill
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Hunters Hill uranium mill site, New South Wales

> See also: Hunters Hill - Remediation of Properties in Nelson Parade , Government Property NSW


Remediation Action Plan released for cleanup of homes at former Hunters Hill uranium mill site

> Download: Remediation Action Plan (Nov. 2020), Project Approval (Apr. 2021), and related documents ("Planning approval reference documents") (DPIE NSW)

Contaminated soil from former Hunters Hill uranium mill site to be exported to Idaho disposal site

Up to 1800 tonnes of contaminated land affecting six waterfront properties in one of Sydney's wealthiest suburbs will be sealed up and shipped to the US in a NSW government resolution that ends decades of anxiety over the harbourside blight.
After more than 100 years, pollution from a carbolic acid plant and a uranium refinery that led to the government's acquisition of three Hunters Hill homes since the 1980s, and later prompted a parliamentary inquiry over health concerns, will be exported to [the US Ecology disposal site in Grand View,] Idaho over a meticulous, 18-month operation starting from July. (Sydney Morning Herald Apr. 30, 2021)

Cleanup of homes at former Hunters Hill uranium mill site delayed for another four years

The clean-up of radioactive waste from a residential street in Hunters Hill has been delayed for another four years, as the cost has almost doubled. The Baird government was ordered by the Environment Protection Authority last November to submit a plan to remove toxic waste from six properties on Nelson Parade after a decade of delay and political paralysis. The clean-up was to begin within 90 days of the plan being approved.
But Government Property NSW's annual report has revealed the remediation work won't be undertaken until 2016-17, and won't be complete until 2018-19. Remediation costs have blown out from $12.4 million to $22.5 million "mainly as a result of changes in the final waste disposal location". (Sydney Morning Herald Nov. 29, 2015)
> Download: Annual Report 2015 , Government Property NSW (6.5MB PDF) (see p. 61)

Environment agency orders cleanup of homes at former Hunters Hill uranium mill site

The Baird government has been ordered by the Environment Protection Authority to clean up homes in Hunters Hill contaminated by a uranium smelter 100 years ago, after years of stalling. Plans to transfer contaminated waste from Nelson Parade in Hunters Hill to a Kemps Creek landfill have plagued successive state governments. Western Sydney residents rejected becoming a "dumping ground" for the radioactive waste, while Hunters Hill residents complained the contaminated soil had to be removed from the residential street. Former Treasurer Andrew Constance put the clean-up on hold last February.
But the Environment Protection Authority has issued a management order to Government Property NSW, which owns three of the contaminated houses, and has been tasked with carrying out the remediation of six properties in Nelson Parade. The EPA said the land was significantly contaminated with arsenic, lead and coal tar pitch which exceeded safety levels for residential land. Government Property NSW hadn't met the remediation plans approved by the EPA in 2007 and 2013, the EPA said.
A decision on where to send the waste has been delegated to the Planning Assessment Commission, which is expected to hold a public meeting. (Sydney Morning Herald May 17, 2015)

Remediation Project Application for removal of contaminated soil from former Hunters Hill uranium mill site open for public comment

From 22 Nov. 2012 to 8 Feb. 2013, the NSW Planning Department's Remediation Project Application for Hunters Hill, including an Environmental Assessment, was open for public comment.
> Access related documents: NSW Planning & Environment: Hunters Hill land remediation

Removal of contaminated soil from former Hunters Hill uranium mill site to start early next year

The controversial clean-up of a radioactive site in Hunters Hill is set to begin early next year, with any hazardous waste to be moved from the harbourside suburb to Lidcombe, the NSW government says. After years of denials from successive governments about the extent of the contamination, the clean-up will now be extended to include suspected radioactive hot spots in neighbouring backyards and at the harbour foreshore.
The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, all but ruled out dumping the contaminated dirt at a Kemps Creek waste facility in western Sydney last year, in the face of protests from Penrith residents and councillors. But the new plan involves reclassifying most of the contaminated earth as ''restricted solid waste'', allowing it to be trucked to Kemps Creek. Any material that is shown to be dangerously radioactive will be taken to a secure storage facility in Lidcombe, operated by the Office of Environment and Heritage. (Sydney Morning Herald Dec. 16, 2012)

Rally against proposed dumping of contaminated soil from former Hunters Hill uranium mill site at Lidcombe

Around 200 residents attended a rally at Lidcombe's Remembrance Park last Saturday (Aug. 25) to protest the NSW government's plans to transfer radioactive waste from an old Hunters Hill radium smelter to residential areas, including a facility at Lidcombe. The rally was organised by the Auburn Asian Welfare Centre and Soka Gakkai International Australia, a Buddhist and non-government organisation. A spokeswoman from SGI Australia said waste products from at least 500 tonnes of uranium ore processed at the former Hunters Hill smelter remained in the soil, and will be sent to the Office of Environment and Heritage -owned facility at Joseph St, Lidcombe. (Parramatta Advertiser Aug. 29, 2012)

Penrith Council opposes dumping of contaminated soil from former Hunters Hill uranium mill site at Kemps Creek landfill

Penrith Council is "steadfastly opposed" to State Government plans to dump 5000 tonnes of toxic soil at a landfill site at Kemps Creek. The plan, exposed in a Sunday newspaper, would see contaminated waste from the site of a former uranium smelter at Hunters Hill dumped at the Kemps Creek site, owned by SITA Environmental Solutions. Acting deputy mayor Ross Fowler said the council and community would "oppose any view that we are the only option for the disposal of the rest of Sydney's waste". (Penrith Press Oct. 19, 2010)
Premier Kristina Keneally has now ruled out trucking 5000 tonnes of toxic waste from Hunters Hill to a Kemps Creek landfill site; the Land and Property Management Authority would look at alternatives. (Penrith Star Oct. 24, 2010)

New classification allows landfill disposal of contaminated soil from former Hunters Hill uranium mill site

More than 5000 tonnes of radioactive waste will be dug up from one of Sydney's wealthiest harbourside suburbs, trucked across the city and dumped near Penrith. Secret documents passed to The Sun-Herald show soil from a former uranium smelter in Hunters Hill, previously proven to be hazardous in tests by nuclear experts, has been reclassified as safe by the state government to be disposed of in landfill.
The new classification of "restricted solid waste" allows the government, which has dithered for decades about what to do with the radioactive site, to transport waste to the western suburbs. Special sealed trucks will begin rolling across the city from early next year to dump waste at Kemps Creek, near Penrith. SITA , the private owner of the Kemps Creek waste site, will be paid $3.5 million to take an estimated 5830 tonnes of radioactive waste, the documents show. (Sydney Morning Herald Oct. 17, 2010)

Cleanup of former Hunters Hill uranium mill site facing indefinite delay

The planned clean-up of the radioactive site at Hunters Hill is facing an indefinite delay. The government has missed its own deadline to begin the clean-up, and is yet to even start on the necessary paperwork. The government had two years to lodge its application to clean up the radioactive waste at the site, and it has not met the end of February deadline. Now it says the application may not be lodged until mid-year at the earliest, and a consultant to compile its report will not be appointed until perhaps next month.
The remediation work involves removing 3000 cubic metres of soil from the area, and another 500 cubic metres from the harbour floor. "That will increase if neighbours want their radioactive hot spots removed as well," the MP Michael Richardson said.
There are 37 samples on the site registering greater than 100 becquerels per gram of radioactivity, classifying it as hazardous waste. It is spread right across the area, from the foreshore to the upper areas of the site. The highest individual reading is 787.43 becquerels a gram. However, one piece of radioactive slag has also been found, which recorded more than 7400 becquerels per kilogram of uranium, along with very high levels of thorium, in an area at No.1 Nelsons Parade, Hunters Hill. That is several lots away from the remediation site, which is centred on Nos. 7,9 and 11 Nelson Parade.
The government's application needs to include an environmental assessment which must specify where the radioactive waste is to be dumped. The sole landfill in Sydney able to accept industrial waste is at Kemps Creek in western Sydney, operated by the private firm SITA. But because of the extremely high radioactivity levels in the waste, it may be difficult to dump it, since much of it is well in excess of safe levels. And, once dumped, it then becomes the responsibility of the landfill owner. (Sydney Morning Herald Mar. 19, 2010)

Cleanup of former Hunters Hill uranium mill site to include demolition of a building that was repeatedly declared safe

New plans to clean up the site of a former uranium smelter in Hunters Hill mean a four-storey waterfront mansion the NSW Government has repeatedly declared safe will be demolished. In addition, 3000 cubic metres of radioactive earth will be dug out of two neighbouring properties and another 500 cubic metres are likely to be scraped from the harbour floor in front of the site at 11 Nelson Parade, subject to more tests by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.
A secretive tendering process for removing the earth, in which bidders were forbidden from visiting the site or talking to neighbours, is under way. No environmental assessment or planning approval has been granted yet. The Herald understands the tests show elevated background radiation levels that in some cases exceed health guidelines, reinforcing results from independent tests last year by a private company, Australian Radiation Services. These showed that in some spots contamination was 350 times normal levels.
The Government's State Property Authority, which took over management of the site from NSW Health this year, said in tender documents that the home might need to be demolished, subject to ANSTO's findings. The house was bought back from private owners for A$3.4 million in an out-of-court settlement, after the Government said for six months that it was safe. The clean-up plans are another climbdown for the Government, which maintained for years that the street was safe. Six people who lived in affected properties in the street are known to have died from cancer, though there is no proven link between their deaths and the radioactivity. (Sydney Morning Herald Dec. 28, 2009)

NSW Government agrees to clean up former Hunters Hill uranium mill site

After years of public pressure, the NSW Government yesterday agreed to a thorough clean-up of radioactive land in Hunters Hill. It will dig out thousands of tonnes of contaminated dirt and uranium tailings from the site of a former uranium smelter by the end of next year, supervised by an independent auditor. It will then sell the waterside land in Nelson Parade for housing if it is declared safe.
At least six people who have lived on or near the radioactive section of the street have died of cancer, though there is no proven link between the elevated radiation levels and their deaths.
There have been many instances of government officials failing to warn residents about the risks of the site. When residents began voicing concerns in the 1970s the Health Commission told staff to "stall and be non-committal" about the danger. In 2002 the buyers of a house at No. 11 Nelson Parade were not told about high radiation levels at the site. Last month the Government agreed to buy it back after the owners, Peter and Michelle Vassiliou, commissioned tests that found the site unfit for habitation. (The Sydney Morning Herald March 27, 2009)

HOME   WISE Uranium Project   >   Mining & Milling   >   Issues   >