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Aus state mulling uranium mining ban

Australia could lose the chance to become the world's biggest uranium producer if a threatened ban on mining yellowcake in a key state is imposed, an industry lobby group said on Wednesday.

world Updated: Sep 03, 2008 09:07 IST

Australia could lose the chance to become the world's biggest uranium producer if a threatened ban on mining yellowcake in a key state is imposed, an industry lobby group said on Wednesday.

The nation's economy could also lose out on billions of dollars in potential revenue if Western Australian Premier Alan Carpenter makes good on his pledge to outlaw uranium mining in the vast state if his government is re-elected this weekend, it warned.

"The proposal to ban uranium mining in Western Australia fails on so many counts," said Michael Angwin, director of the Australia Uranium Association.

"This proposed ban is pretty uninformed and would be a real blow to Australia," he told AFP.

Such a ban would deprive Australia's gross domestic product of up to 3.2 billion dollars (2.66 billion US) in additional revenue between now and 2030 and reduce its uranium-producing potential by more than two-thirds, Angwin said.

The threatened ban on uranium mining has become a core issue in campaigning for Saturday's state elections in Western Australia, in which Carpenter's Labor Party will face off against a pro-uranium mining Liberal candidate.

Carpenter last week said that if his Labor government wins, it would ban the mining of yellowcake in the resources-rich state to show his commitment to "clean, green" policy.

"We will ban, by legislation, the mining of uranium in Western Australia and instead we will drive 100 percent renewable energy production," he said.

"Nuclear is not green, is not safe, and has no role in Western Australia's future energy mix under a Labor government."

But opposition leader Colin Barnett has said he would support a policy to export uranium to countries that were members of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).