French multinational and industrial conglomerate AREVA might want to explore the Koongarra area of Northern Territory in Australia for uranium, but if the sole Aboriginal owner has his way the land would soon be part of the Kakadu National Park.
Uranium mining would then be banned in the wetlands and Aboriginal rock art sites added to the National Park to protect a patch of the Aboriginal land east of Darwin.
Koongarra, a 1,228-hectare parcel of land adjoining the park, sits on uranium deposits potentially worth billions of dollars to French mining corporation Areva. The company has a 15 year old a mining lease over the area and is bewildered by the announcement made by the Environment Minsiter, Peter Garrett that if re-elected, Labor would accept the landwoner's offer to incorporate the 1,228 hectares of land he owns into world heritage-listed Kakadu.
AREVA is currently seeking legal advice.
The idea to sign the deal with the Northern Land Council to absorb the Koongarra land into Kakadu came from a Kakadu ranger called Jeffery Lee. He is the senior custodian of the land and the sole member of the Djok Clan. He feels that the land would be better off with the National Park than with the uranium mining company.
Any means of producing electricity involves some wastes and environmental hazard. The nuclear industry is unique in that it is the only energy-producing industry that takes full responsibility for the disposal of all its wastes and meets the full cost of doing so. Nuclear energy today saves the emission of about 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year (compared with over 7 billion tonnes per year actually emitted from fossil fuel electricity generation). Source: World Nuclear Association