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Thursday, 18 February 1971

Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) - by leave - I make the following statement on behalf of the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz). Following a review by the Commonwealth of policy relating to the export of uranium the then Minister for National Development on 10th April 1967 announced a new policy designed to stimulate exploration for this mineral and at the same time ensure that Australia's future requirements of uranium would be met from domestic resources. While retaining a system of export controls., the policy permitted limited exports from new discoveries, in amounts which were relatedto the size and location of these deposits.

In recent years the search for uranium has increased. Over eighty companies have been involved in exploration and very gratifying results have been obtained. Discoveries by Queensland Mines,. PekoWalksendElectrolytic Zinc and Noranda in the Northern Territory have been announed by the companies. Exoil-Transoil have announced discoveries in South Australia. None of: these discoveries is as yet fully delineated, and complete investigation will take a considerable time. It is clear, however, that these reserves will put Australia amongst the leading uranium producers in the world, and it is not over-optimistic to expect that further discoveries will continue to be made.

Uranium is not only a valuable mineral, and the probable future source of much of the world's future industrial power, it is also a material of strategic importance. The Government has decided, in common with the governments of practically all other uranium exporting countries, to maintain a system of: export control. For the present this will not involve any quantitative restriction upon exports. However, a close watch will be maintained on proven reserves and the amount exported to ensure that adequate supplies are retained for our future requirements. As with previous policy, all contracts for the export of uranium will he subject to the approval of the Minister for National Development. This will ensure that the price negotiated for the sale of the uranium is satisfactory. Appropriate safeguards, to ensure that the materials exported are used for peaceful purposes only, will be mandatory.

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