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Uranium Mining in Australia Viewpoint

by Suleman
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Introduction/Background

              In Australia, the uranium mining industry is working since 1954. Australia provides almost 33% uranium of the total uranium consumption in the world. According to the records of 2017, uranium only produced through mining in Australia is nearly 6937 tonnes. Uranium sales in the international market generate high revenue for Australia. Descriptions of the Australian government presents that uranium contributed to the growth of overall GDP. During 2012 only contribution by uranium in the GDP was 20% in general Gross domestic products while ow sales increased with the increase in mining and demand for uranium in the international market. Other than that, uranium enterprises have great value in federal and regional economics also.

              Uranium is also in the use of nuclear power plants. Australia supplies uranium for the nuclear reactors to the countries that are generating power through nuclear power plants. While Australia also provides uranium for weapons production in the United Kingdom and the United States. The earning from this supply support the federal government in meeting their expense. Uranium is a natural resource that mining engineers discovered in the mines of uranium. Therefore, its production cost is low, but it generates high returns (Mudd, 2010). Higher return on investment and revenue-generating the uranium’s capacity draws its impact on society and the environment. Uranium export changes the lifestyle of the people by making the economy stable. Other than economic benefits, some societal and environmental effects are also associated with this business activity. Uranium is hazardous for the human body. Business activity of uranium involves human beings at a large scale as employees, and other people support the export process. Therefore there is the risk for the reaction and physical damages for the human being.

Employed Directly within Industry or Secondary Flow on Industry

                In Australia’s uranium mining industry, many people work as an employee directly or indirectly with the Uranium mining business. People who are now employed within the sector are workers at mines, managers at mines, mining engineers, export supporting staff, and workers involved in uranium transportation after extracting the uranium from the mines (Abdelouas, 2006). People working indirectly within the uranium industry are administrative staff, finance and accounts team, exporting agencies, and purchasers. While the government is also indirectly involved in this business Activity. The government indirectly benefits from this business in the form of taxes on operations and taxes on uranium export to the international markets.

                According to the uranium viewpoint, miner mines are not safe for their health and physical fitness. Miners extract uranium from the mines through modern equipment, but the risk is higher because of the continuous interaction with the environment’s uranium. Because of the uranium, they face health damages and problems. Skin problems and eye infection are quite common because of the direct interactions with the uranium. While according to the viewpoint of the secondary flow on industry, miners are given the best facilities to protect them from the reaction and radiations of the uranium at the time of extraction in mines. Australia is using modern equipment and machinery that limit the interaction of the workers with the uranium.

             Uranium mines in Australia have about 13000 workers that work directly within the industry daily. According to research, Ranger mine is one of the biggest mines for uranium in Australia. At ranger mine, employee’s health and safety problems are at a peak. Radiological exposure because of inhalation and irradiation is expected in the ranger mines of Australia.

Viewpoint from a Local Ancestral Heritage Group, Traditional Owner, or Environmental Lobbyist

Local ancestral heritage groups, traditional owners, and environmental lobbyists are directly concerned with uranium mining in Australia. According to the viewpoint of locally established heritage group Ranger (uranium mines in Australia) is a part of Kakadu National Park. The local ancestral heritage group claim that Kakadu National Park has great importance in the world’s overall heritage tourist sites. Through mining, the government is destroying the heritage of Australia (Bullard & Johnson, 2000). Continuously extraction of the uranium from the park is converting the natural heritage site into ruins. According to the views of the local ancestral heritage group, there should be other uranium resources. Otherwise, the existence of the Kakadu National park as a heritage of Australia is at stake. Traditional owners of the uranium mines in Australia are the Mirarr Gundjehmi clan. 

The viewpoint of traditional owners and local ancestral heritage group are just similar. Traditional owners are also against the digging of uranium mines. According to their perspective, uranium extracted from Australia’s mines uses nuclear attacks and weapons.  In 2011 nuclear disaster in the japan radiation problems was supported by the uranium from Ranger mine. Traditional owners said that they felt sorrow for this incident. Uranium is being in use for malicious purposes that are destroying human lives. Therefore they are with the viewpoint to close up the uranium mines.

Environmental Lobbyists claim that revenue generated from the uranium extraction in Australia could not reach the expected level in the last quarter. Current Environmental Lobbyist of uranium mines is with the point of view that uranium is not sustainable in WA (Meinrath et al., 2003). By the operations are more than the demand. At the same time, future demand will increase because of China.    

Viewpoint from Banker/Politician/Business Person

Bankers, politicians and business person play their significant role in the Uranium trade in the international market. They facilitate the exchange and whole operations of the mines. Banks of Australia provide financing services to the mines to meet their expense incurred during the extraction of uranium from mines and taking it to the market for sale. As a banker, my views about uranium mining in Australia favor the mines. Uranium business should be promoted in the international world to earn high revenue from the market. Uranium business has a significant contribution to the stability of the GDP. At the same time, politicians are not totally in favor of the uranium mining industry. According to some politicians, uranium is not an environment-friendly product. The business of uranium causes health issues for the human being in the environment. At the same time, some politicians support this business (Bleise et al., 2003). They said that uranium growth rate is higher in the market through selling commodities of uranium economy of Australia gets a positive impact. Therefore the business of uranium should not be stopped.

The businesspersons are the people who directly deals with the sales and purchase of the uranium. Businessperson claim that uranium mining contributes to overcoming the unemployment rate in Australia. More than 13000 workers are working directly or indirectly with the uranium mines. In the case of closing up the mines, they will lose their jobs and increase their unemployment rate. An increase in the quality of unemployment is entirely unacceptable (Shultz et al., 2007). Other than they said that mines business is in good condition for the investment. Cost is under the control of management through the use of modern equipment and automation systems. Therefore uranium mines generate higher profit margins for the investors.

Conclusion/Recommendation

Uranium mines of Australia cover more than 33% of the market shares in the international market of uranium trade. Three significant uranium mines in Australia produce uranium that industries are using for nuclear weapons and other industrial production sectors. Government, taxes departments works indirectly with the uranium sales. Bankers, politicians and business persons are supportive entities for the business of uranium. They claim that uranium sales contribute to the overall economy of Australia. Australia is using modern equipment and machinery to reduce costs through speed up the process of extraction. However, Local Ancestral Heritage Group and Traditional Owner want to shut down the uranium industry because of its negative consequences on Australia’s environment and heritage. Local Ancestral Heritage Group is potentially against ranger mines’ operations for the safety of Australia’s natural heritage. Uranium business cannot be considered a sustainable business according to the views of Environmental lobbyists. Thus we can conclude that the uranium industry still needs to make operations to remain safe in society. The environmental impact of uranium is harmful to human beings and other living creatures; therefore, the industry faces opposition for survival. In such a situation, there are should be brought significant changes in the industry. My recommendation is to provide health and safety measures to the workers in mines. They should be given dresses that reduce the impact of radiation. In the areas where the risk of radiation is higher, miners should not be allowed to go. The use of an automation system can replace human workers in dangerous areas of the mines. To reduce the negative consequences of uranium trade, Government should also make it possible that purchasers only use the uranium for positive purposes.

References
  • Abdelouas, A., 2006. Uranium Mill Tailings: Geochemistry, Mineralogy, and Environmental Impact. ELEMENTS, Volume 2, pp. 335-341.
  • Blaise, A., Danesi, P. & Burkart, W., 2003. Properties, use and health effects of depleted uranium (DU): a general overview. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Volume 64, pp. 93-112.
  • Bullard, R. D. & Johnson, G. S., 2000. Environmental Justice: Grassroots Activism and Its Impact on Public Policy Decision Making. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), pp. 555-578.
  • Meinrath, A., Schneider, P. & Meinrath, G., 2003. Uranium ores and depleted uranium in the environment, with reference to uranium in the biosphere from the Erzgebirge/Sachsen Germany. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Volume 64, pp. 175-193.
  • Mudd, G. M., 2010. The Environmental sustainability of mining in Australia: key mega-trends and looming constraints. Resources Policy, Volume 35, pp. 98-115.
  • Shultz, G. P., Perry, W. J., Kissinger, H. A. & Nunn, S., 2007. A World Free of Nuclear Weapons. The Wall Street Journal, 4(01), pp. 1-4.

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