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(generated from captions) strong diplomatic action. That report from Scott Bevan. Still on matters nuclear, the Federal Government's historic deal to allow uranium sales to China has set off its own flurry of debate over where the nation should headed, not just on uranium mining, but also whether we should aspire to become a fully-fledged member of the nuclear industry. Australia contains more than one-third of the world's known uranium. Currently there are three mines producing yellowcake with a fourth expected on line soon. The Ranger Mine in the Top End produces the most uranium ore, but that mine is winding down, leaving the Olympic Dam Mine in the South Australian outback as the dominant player. BHP Billition, which took over the mine from WMC last year, plans to double the size of the operation, taking advantage of the largest known uranium ore body in the world. Mike Sexton reports.

The genie is out of the bottle. If

The genie is out of the bottle. If a deal is done with China pa, it will

be done with other countries. The

letty comes from nuclear power and

these nuclear power stations are

going the require uranium. The

genie isn't out of the bottle and

for us to say it's all a foreagain

conclusion and we might as well

conclusion and we might as well have open slather, that's not the way

this country should work.

It's 9 o'clock, another per fete

autumn day in outback South

Australia and every seat is taken

for the tour of BHP Billiton's

Olympic Dam mine. It is called

Olympic Dam because it was

originally built in 1956 by the

station owners of Roxby Downs and

they built this dam in 1956 when

they built this dam in 1956 when the Olympic Games were on in Melbourne.

When it comes to tourism

attractions, Olympic Dam may not

rival Uluru, but if you fancy

rival Uluru, but if you fancy copper and uranium mines, this is the

biggest show on earth. The legacy

biggest show on earth. The legacy of serious prehistoric ructions.

There was a time 1600 million years

ago when rocks were being melted

ago when rocks were being melted and some of the very big atoms were

coming into the melts from the

surrounding rocks and these melts

squirted up high into the crust and

exploded and concentrated the

uranium in these fractured exploded

rocks. So South Australia and parts

of western NSW are very, very rich

in uranium and a lot of other

minerals. While the ranger mine in

the Northern Territory produces

the Northern Territory produces more uranium oil than Olympic Dam,

uranium oil than Olympic Dam, mining will probably end there within two

years. Olympic Dam, meanwhile, has

the world's largest known uranium

deposit deep below the desert.

You don't get it until you're 3

You don't get it until you're 3 50m underground and it goes through to

800m. We have a system of roadways.

More than 200kms of roads that give

you access to the mining areas and

we do blasting underground and

we do blasting underground and bring to the surface the ore and it is processed to separate the copper

from the uranium, the sill ve and

the gold. It's the copper that

drives this operation earning 70%

drives this operation earning 70% of the mine's revenue. Uranium is

the mine's revenue. Uranium is worth 25% of earnings with gold and

25% of earnings with gold and silver making up the balance. But that

equation could change after this

month's deal with China opened up

month's deal with China opened up an enormous export market for

Australian yellowcake. But as big

Australian yellowcake. But as big as Olympic Dam is, BHP Billiton wants

to make it twice as big. Plans are

well advanced to start mining the

southern ore body which, if

approved, will create one of the

largest open-cut mines on earth.

They're talking about an area of

something like 3.5kms by 3.5kms by

something like 3.5kms by 3.5kms by a kilometre deep. That's one heck of

kilometre deep. That's one heck of a big hole in the ground. Any new marketing opportunity is important,

but I emphasise that this study was

under way before the Chinese

opportunity became available.

15kms away from Olympic Dam is

15kms away from Olympic Dam is South Australia's Elliot, Roxby Downs.

Here the statistics tell the story

of a boom town - low unemployment,

high wages, low crime rate, high

birth rate. Yeah, children

everywhere. It's a place to have

children. One of the great birth

rates of the country. James

rates of the country. James Goldrick is a consultant for the Roxby Downs

Council and is helping plan the

future of the town, which is

expected to double in the next

decade. Creating a vibrant

decade. Creating a vibrant community is important to BHP Billiton

is important to BHP Billiton because with a worldwide shortage of

mineworker, recruiting people to

work at Olympic Dam heavily relies

on making Roxby attractive to

potential workers. The biggest

underlying issue also that affects

economics is we have a turnover of

population of about 70% every three

to five years. That's a big cost

for business. Not only the mine,

for business. Not only the mine, but also for the little shop here or

also for the little shop here or the hairdresser. Taryn Chick has

literally seen Roxby Downs grow up.

Hers was the first shop opened here

in 1988 and she says while the chat

in the Salon has been positive

in the Salon has been positive about the mine expansion, there are some

concerns about how the town will

cope. Worrying about housing and

shops, whether there will be enough

shops to cater for everybody. But I

think with the expansion hopefully

the town will grow as well. There

are those further removed who

believe the proposed mine expansion

has is only the beginning.

has is only the beginning. Australia can take control of the world's

nuclear supply and treatment and

disposal of waste. I see this as

disposal of waste. I see this as one of the greatest economic

opportunities that Australia has

ever been offered. Ian Plymer is

Professor of Mining Geology at the

University of Adelaide and believes

the government should take a cradle

to the grave approach to uranium.

to the grave approach to uranium. He wants to see enrichment plants

wants to see enrichment plants built here to have releases to overseas

reactors. The rods would be return

for reprocessing and ultimately

storage. If this industry was

established you'd have a boom if

ployment. The mislikely place to

ployment. The mislikely place to put it is South Australia because South

Australia has the world's biggest

reserves of uranium deposits and it

is an area that is grossly

underpopulated and an area where

underpopulated and an area where you have rocks that have been stable

have rocks that have been stable for thousands of millions of years.

Stability they try and measure over

thousands of years. Political

stability you are lucky to measure

it over five years. Some of the

countries we rared as our good

friends 20 or 30 years ago look

friends 20 or 30 years ago look like being the subject of military

being the subject of military action because they've moved away.

Countries like Iran. The Green's

South Australian MP Mark Parnell

believes the profits from selling

uranium should be balanced against

the environmental cost of mining a

mineral that could be used for

nuclear weapons. It's no great

nuclear weapons. It's no great pride we should have that we've the

greatest uranium mine. It's an

industry over decades that's still

not solved the basic problem of

not solved the basic problem of what to do with the waste and it's an

industry whilst it continues to

progress, makes the world a less safe place.

Myramping up of a nuclear industry

would require significant changes

would require significant changes in both state and federal legislation,

making it a long-term proposition

making it a long-term proposition at best. In the short term, the likely

expansion of Olympic Dam will

guarantee uranium mining here to

guarantee uranium mining here to the end of this century. Disbr>>