Uranium mining has been taking place in Australia more or less continuously since the late 1930s but it really only came to the fore after 1945. Environmental protection legislation did not become established until 1976. As a consequence the environmental management of many early uranium mines was virtually non-existent and a number of adverse environmental impacts were recorded. p]The development of modern uranium mines, essentially since 1970, has been associated with two major issues: a growing understanding by industry and regulators of the need for environmental management and pollution control, and increasing community pressure for minimisation of adverse environmental impacts from all mines. Under these conditions Australia has developed regulatory regimes for uranium mines which incorporate some of the highest environmental standards in the world. This paper sets out to describe how the current uranium mines in Australia are regulated from an environmental viewpoint. The discussion deals with the regulation of underground, open cut and in-situ leach uranium operations in climatic zones varying from the wet-dry tropics to arid deserts. The regulatory regimes involve a complex mix of federal and state governments as well as traditional Aboriginal Landowners and other significant stakeholders. The paper sets out how these different agencies and organisations work together to ensure that uranium mines are operated in accordance with the expectations of the community in terms of their environmental, health and safety expectations whilst maintaining economic viability and operational efficiency.
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- Environmental regulation of uranium mining in Australia
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