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Wednesday, 6 November 1985
Page: 1649


Senator CHIPP —My question is directed to the Minister for Resources and Energy. Is it true that the Roxby Downs project, which this Government approved on the spurious ground that the mining of uranium 308 was only incidental to the mining of gold and copper, is now in danger of collapse due to the inability of the project to sell its uranium on the world market? Have the Roxby Downs partners requested the Government to lower the minimum price at which its uranium may be sold? Will the Government, in the light of the difficulties being experienced by Roxby Downs, and given continued exploration in Australia for uranium by companies such as the Japanese Power and Nuclear Corporation, give a categorical assurance that no new uranium mines will, under any circumstances, be given export permits?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I have seen the reports circulating. I understand rumours have been about regarding the level of the Australian floor price for uranium. I simply make the point in that respect that the setting of any floor price or a subsequent review is primarily a matter for the Minister for Trade. I know that he is monitoring price developments generally in the uranium market to ensure that not only the interests of the Roxby producers in securing market access for the uranium but also those of other Australian producers are protected. That is a situation in respect of which no government decision has been made, but the situation is being monitored quite closely.

On the larger question, a decision as to whether the Roxby Downs project will proceed immediately, or after some delay, or not at all, is expected to be made by the joint venturers, I think at the end of the first week of December. No doubt that decision will be made on the basis of the market opportunities as they are perceived at the time, not only in respect of uranium but also of course in respect of copper and gold, which are the other and indeed more substantial deposits in that particular mine. I can give Senator Chipp the assurance that Labor Party policy is absolutely unequivocal on the question of the export of uranium and that, apart from the Roxby Downs project and the two existing mines in the Northern Territory, it is simply not the case that approval will be given for the export of any uranium from any Australian development.