Uranium mining at Jabiluka: a conservation debate

Testing a nuclear bomb at Maralinga black and white photograph
Testing a nuclear bomb at Maralinga

NAA: A6455, RC597 PART 3

In 1977 the Australian Government decided to allow further mining and export of Australian uranium by approving development of Northern Territory uranium deposits known as Jabiluka. The decision included a commitment to safeguard against nuclear proliferation and to ensure protection of Aboriginal rights and the environment. However, environmental groups and Aboriginal communities affected by the mining of uranium deposits led protests for over a decade against the proposed Jabiluka mine. The protests culminated in a lengthy blockade in 1998 and although mining did proceed for a short time there has been no development at the site for the last decade.

Get thinking

  • What were the factors that the Australian Government considered before giving approval for further development of Australian uranium reserves in 1977?
  • Why was mining of uranium at Jabiluka so controversial and why did the campaign against the project gain such strong support?
  • In 1977 Prime Minister Fraser stated that Australia 'possesses 20 per cent of the world's known reserves of low cost uranium'. What are the arguments for and against developing these reserves for energy?

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