The Ranger Uranium Mine in Kakadu is looming as the next great test of mining giant Rio Tinto, following the international outcry over the destruction of the 46,000-year-old Juukan caves in the Pilbara.
- Operations at the Ranger Uranium Mine, located near Kakadu National Park, are scheduled to stop in January 2021
- The rehabilitation of the site is expected to cost up to $1 billion
- Energy Resource Australia, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, has entered mediation with the Federal Government over funding for an independent monitoring agency
ERA, with the financial support of Rio Tinto, has already spent more than half a billion dollars on rehabilitating the Ranger Uranium Mine site in the lead-up to its closure.
It is expected to spend an additional $1 billion on rehabilitating the environmentally and culturally significant site and Dr Mudd said the company was legally required to go through with it.
Rio Tinto, which owns about 68 per cent of ERA, has previously said it would work with the company to make sure ERA’s rehabilitation obligations were met “in full”.
Dr Mudd said he gave great credit to Rio Tinto for its commitment to help ERA meet its obligations, but he said the Supervising Scientists Branch was vital to delivering the overall rehabilitation project.
“It was put there as a way to recognise that the supervising scientist was extremely important for ERA to achieve its environmental performance,” he said.
“We need the science to be done because we need to monitor for years to make sure we understand all of the complex aspects [of the mine’s legacy] such as the revegetation and ecosystems, the cultural land uses for the Mirrar [Indigenous traditional owners], as well as things like the aquatic ecosystems and radiation levels.”
He said he could not understand why the comparatively small $2.5 million supervising scientist funding was becoming a point of contention ahead of a $1 billion rehabilitation spend.