Securing the Ranger mine clean up and return to traditional owners
Joint media release with Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney
The Australian Government is securing the ongoing rehabilitation of the Ranger uranium mine adjoining Kakadu National Park and the eventual return of the site to the Mirarr Traditional Owners.
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Madeleine King has introduced a Bill to Parliament to amend legislation to guarantee the government to oversee the clean-up beyond 2026 and to ensure the mine’s operator, Energy Resources Australia (ERA), completes the rehabilitation.
The Atomic Energy Amendment (Mine Rehabilitation and Closure) Bill 2022, introduced into the House of Representatives, is the first step to extending ERA’s authority to keep working on the rehabilitation until the work is complete.
“The Ranger mine must be restored to a condition similar to surrounding Kakadu National Park. For such an environmentally, culturally and historically important region, only the highest standard of rehabilitation will do,” Minister King said.
“The Bill will also enable progressive closing out of the site so areas which have been rehabilitated can transition back to underlying Aboriginal land tenure. This will allow Ranger’s Mirarr Traditional Owners to get on Country as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The Ranger uranium mine operated for 40 years until operations ended in January 2021.
ERA, with the support of Rio Tinto, has committed to the long-term rehabilitation plans and has been progressively rehabilitating the Ranger Project Area since the 1990s.
While rehabilitation is well advanced in some areas, it is apparent the full rehabilitation will extend beyond January 2026 when the existing regulatory arrangements end.
The Atomic Energy Amendment (Mine Rehabilitation and Closure) Bill 2022 will ensure the regulatory framework is extended until the rehabilitation is complete.
Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said the Bill has the support of the Northern Land Council and Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation which represent the Mirarr Traditional Owners.
“Once this Bill is passed, I will be able to start negotiations on a new land access agreement with the Mirarr Traditional Owners,” Minister Burney said.
“While a full handover is still some years away, this legislation will give both ERA and the Mirarr Traditional Owners a line of sight for the land’s eventual rehabilitation and return.
“Ranger’s rehabilitation is a priority for all parties and we all look forward to seeing Ranger being a world-class example of mine rehabilitation.”
Once the new law is in place, several other measures will then follow so that rehabilitation work can extend beyond 2026, including the establishment of a new Rehabilitation Authority, and negotiation of a new land access agreement.
Debate on the Atomic Energy Amendment (Mine Rehabilitation and Closure) Bill 2022 was adjourned.