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Friday, 12 September 1969

Mr FAIRBAIRN (FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for National Development) - The Commonwealth Government has known for some time of the interest of Mr Hancock in the feasibility of using a nuclear blast for assisting in developing his iron ore resources in Western Australia, but there has been no formal application made by him to the Commonwealth Government. If Mr Hancock decides that he would like to engage in such a process the first step that he must take is to approach the Western Australian Government which would then, if it saw fit, approach the Commonwealth Government. As I understand it, Mr Hancock's proposal is for a fully contained underground nuclear explosion and, therefore, the nuclear test ban would not apply as there would be no venting to the atmosphere.

Before the Commonwealth could do anything along these lines, however, it would have to have undertaken a very comprehensive feasibility study which looked into aspects of safety, aspects of whether there was likely to be any damage from the shock of the explosion, and whether there would be any effect on underground water supplies, and of course this would take some considerable time. But 1 repeat that the first step would have to be in an approach to the Western Australian Government, and the Commonwealth would be interested in looking at this matter if the Western Australian Government brought the question up to it.

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