Publish Date: 25th February 2011
Members of the Mirarr clan – the Traditional Aboriginal Owners of that part of Kakadu that includes
the Ranger uranium mine – have today in Queensland briefed a delegation of the European
Parliament on concerns over the operations of Rio Tinto's Ranger Uranium Mine. Ranger has
operated on Mirarr land at the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park for over 30 years.
The presentation took place against the backdrop of suspended production at Ranger due to
concerns over heavy rains and flooding as well as new plans by Rio subsidiary Energy Resources
of Australia to expand the mine using controversial and unproven acid heap leach technology.
High level international scrutiny is not new for Rio's Kakadu mine. In 1998 a European Parliament
resolution called on the Australian Government not to proceed with the then proposed Jabiluka
mine (since halted as a result of Mirarr-led campaign) and in the same year UNESCO’s World
Heritage Committee sent a scientific mission to assess the impacts of uranium mining on the World
Heritage values of the Kakadu region.
“This international scrutiny comes at a critical time for the Mirarr and is very welcome. The ongoing
operations at Ranger, combined with renewed pressure for expansion, threaten the natural and
cultural values for which Kakadu is listed as World Heritage,” said Gundjeihmi Aboriginal
Corporation executive officer, Justin O'Brien.
“ERA's current difficulties highlight the company's inability to safely manage its existing operations
and casts serious doubts over its capacity to manage any expansion.
“European nuclear power is fuelled in part by Kakadu uranium. As long as Europe has an appetite
for uranium, it is important that Europeans understand the problems uranium mining causes.
“We have asked the delegates to facilitate a dialogue which will ensure the cultural values of
Kakadu are protected,” Mr O'Brien said.
Today’s briefing follows a series of meetings in Brussels in 2010 between Mirarr representatives
and members of the European Parliament.
Mirarr and their representatives today further outlined their key concerns including: mine waste and
water management, contamination threats and the long term social and cultural impacts of mining.
“We welcome the fact that international attention remains focussed on the protection of the World’s
Heritage Kakadu region and the well being of those for whom this unique area has been home for
many thousands of years,” concluded Mr O’Brien.