Australia is home to the largest endowment of uranium resources with 31 per cent of the world’s total. According to a new report, given the right policy settings, the country’s uranium sector has enormous opportunity for jobs and export revenue growth.
Commissioned by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), the report ‘Realising Australia’s Uranium Potential’ provides an economic analysis of the uranium industry contribution to the Australian economy, as well as its potential in the years ahead under various assumptions and scenarios.
The report shows Australia could reap substantial benefit in jobs and export revenue; particularly if government policies around the world continue to encourage emissions reduction in energy production.
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MCA’s Executive Director for uranium, Daniel Zavattiero, said Australian uranium could fuel as much as five per cent of the world’s electricity generation capacity: “This would be an outstanding contribution to global low-emissions electricity generation,’’ Zavattiero said.
“Australia’s uranium industry holds enormous opportunity for jobs and export revenue growth as governments around the world continue to adopt policies to deal with climate constraints,’’ said Zavattiero.
The report found that under high-growth scenarios for local uranium production and nuclear power in a carbon-constrained world, the economic benefit from the industry could increase tenfold to $US9.5 billion. It also found that Australia’s uranium industry could also expand from its current stage of around 3,000 direct and indirect jobs, to over 20,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2040.
However, despite having almost a third of the world’s uranium, Australia produces just 10 per cent of global production.
“Such opportunities will only be realizable if Australia undergoes policy reforms making it a more attractive uranium investment destination, and a more competitive supplier.”
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The report outlines three priority reforms required to make Australia a more attractive uranium investment destination: removing exploration and mining bans in those states where the bans exist; removing the federal government from the current dual state/federal environmental assessment process; and increasing the number of ports through which uranium can be exported.
“With vision, policy reform, and state and federal commitments to increase competitiveness and investment attractiveness, Australia could target a share of global production closer to its resource endowment,” said Zavattiero.