Mirrar In The News

Fairfax: Traditional Owners reject ERAs uranium extension

15 Oct 2015

by Peter Ker

The slow demise of Kakadu uranium producer Energy Resources of Australia has continued, with the local Indigenous group confirming on Thursday that it would not support an extension to the company's mining lease.

ERA's lease, which is set to expire in 2021, is located on the traditional lands of the Mirarr people, and their support has been seen as a significant part of ERA's licence to operate.

The company flagged in June that it would seek an extension beyond 2021, in a bid to make an underground expansion project economically viable, but it has been unable to convince the Mirarr nor its 69 per cent shareholder Rio Tinto.

Rio said in June that it would not support further mining, preferring instead to move to rehabilitation of the site. The Mirarr said on Thursday they agreed with Rio's plan.

"The Mirarr cannot consider any possible extension to the authority to mine on the Ranger project area in the absence of support from ERA's major shareholder, Rio Tinto," said the group through their representatives at the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation.

The Mirarr said they were in "full agreement with the direction that Rio Tinto wants ERA to take".

The Mirarr revealed in the statement that talks over the extension of the mine lease had started in January, well before ERA publicly contemplated an extension in documents released to the ASX in February.

Rio has vowed to provide funding to complete the rehabilitation if ERA needs it, and the Mirarr urged Rio to ensure that money remains available.

The waning support from the Mirarr follows a radioactive spill at ERA's Ranger mine site in December 2013, and a recent controversy over bushfires that allegedly began on the company's mine lease.

ERA said it would undertake a review of its business in light of the decision, and was assessing whether an impairment was necessary.

ERA shares fell 8.3 cents to 30.2 cents on Thursday.

http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/traditional-owners-reject-eras-ranger-uranium-extension-20151014-gk9fh7.html