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MEDIA RELEASE: RIO TINTO URGED TO STEP UP TO PROVIDE CONFIDENCE AND CERTAINTY OVER KAKADU URANIUM REHABILITATION

27.09.2021

Media release

Rio Tinto urged to step up to provide confidence and certainty over Kakadu uranium rehabilitation

National and Territory environment groups have called on mining giant Rio Tinto to commit to provide the resources and funding needed to credibly rehabilitate the former Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu.

Commercial operations at the site ceased in January with the full focus now on rehabilitation and repair.

Rio Tinto owns more than 85% of mine operator Energy Resource Australia (ERA) which today formally advised the ASX that “it is becoming apparent that there will be cost and schedule overruns. The full extent of these overruns is not yet known.”

“It is not surprising the clean-up work is costly and complicated,” said Environment Centre Northern Territory (ECNT) co-convenor Shar Molloy.

“For forty years ERA carried out high impact activities on the site. It should not be a shock to both the mine operator and owner that the repair works are extensive and the bill expensive.”

ERA is required to rehabilitate Ranger to a standard suitable for inclusion in the surrounding dual World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park in a move that has been described as Australia’s most complicated and monitored rehabilitation project.

“Kakadu is a national and global treasure and needs urgent attention,” said Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“ERA and Rio Tinto need to deliver on their obligations and the federal government needs to make sure the company can access the site for the time needed to do comprehensive rehabilitation.”

The groups have welcomed ERA’s ASX commitment that the company “remains committed to the successful rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area in accordance with its environmental obligations” given that Australia’s mining sector has a poor track record of mine site rehabilitation, especially in relation to uranium projects.

“Too often miners are focused on short term operational considerations and give little attention or make scant provision for rehabilitation, repair and post-closure monitoring,” Dave Sweeney said.

“Rio Tinto will be closely watched and long judged over its performance at Ranger. Words are cheap, repairing damaged landscapes is not.”

Context and comment:

Shar Molloy - 0488 112 350

Dave Sweeney - 0408 317 812