The demand from the Greens Senator to stop all new uranium mines sent a shiver through the mining industry before the federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson responded firmly with reassuring statements.
In an environment where investors are already worried about the new mining tax this latest incident will not do much to enhance the risk profile of investing in the Australian mining industry.
The Greens nuclear spokesman Scott Ludlam said that his party will use its current alliance with the Labor party to try and stop planned uranium mines, halt exports and phase out three existing mines. The comments did not go down well with the Gillard government who accused the Greens of creating an air of uncertainty around investments in the uranium mining industry.
Martin Ferguson said that uranium mining is a fact of life and he was not concerned by the stance taken by the Greens. He even urged Prime Minster Julia Gillard to provide an assurance that she would not succumb to the pressure from the Greens and would include uranium under an expanded mining tax.
Currently the approval for uranium mining lies with state and territory governments subject to environmental considerations.
Australia has the world's largest uranium reserves, 24% of the planet's known reserves. The majority of these reserves are located in South Australia with other important deposits in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Known uranium ore resources that can be mined at about current costs are estimated to be sufficient to produce fuel for about a century, based on current consumption rates.