Uranium mining is set be allowed in New South Wales – creating a wave of new jobs – after the government struck a deal with One Nation to lift a ban on the industry.
A bill to be voted on in the upper house of parliament next week calls for the repeal of legislation banning nuclear facilities and uranium mining in the state.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy Premier John Barilaro are understood to have thrown their support behind bill by directly working out a deal with One Nation.
The deal has left some Coalition members in the Liberals and many of Mr Barilaro’s Nationals colleagues fuming.
In an effort to appease their party a deal had been struck which would allow uranium mining but keep the existing ban on nuclear facilities, according to 7 News.
Nuclear energy generation is currently banned by the federal government so this part of the deal would only signal intent not to push for any of the power plants.
If the federal government were to lift the ban then the deal would also allow New South Wales to follow suit, according to The Daily Telegraph.
The ban on the industry has been in place since the late 1980s and would likely see significant backlash from nuclear energy opponents in repealed.
Australia has been estimated to hold 30 per cent of the world’s uranium reserves – the largest of any single country.
As such, the industry could generate a significant amount of jobs and revenue for the state according to The Minerals Council of Australia chief executive, Tania Constable.
‘Australia is endowed with the world’s largest uranium resource but is only the third largest producer,’ she said.
Ms Constable said if the bans are repealed, it would help strengthen Australia’s position as a global uranium producer.
South Australia, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory are currently the only states and territories that allow the mining of uranium.
The arguments against mining of the radioactive metal include the environmental aspects, the dangers of nuclear power, and indigenous land issues.
The draft legislation has also attracted criticism form conservationists.
The Australian Conservation Foundation has argued the country doesn’t need to explore ‘dangerous’ nuclear options.
‘The state ban on uranium mining has served NSW well and should remain,’ Australian Capital Territory nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney said in a statement.
‘Uranium mining in New South Wales would risk the health of the environment and regional communities for scant promise of return.’
Cabinet will need to give their final approval of Ms Berejiklian’s and Mr Barilaro’s deal with One Nation on Monday.