Australia uses still today no nuclear power. About 2003, proponents of nuclear power advocated it as a solution to global warming and the Australian government began taking an interest. Anti-nuclear campaigners and some scientists in Australia emphasised that nuclear power could not significantly substitute for other power sources, and that uranium mining itself could become a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. But Kevin Rudds Labor government (2007 -2010, re-elected 2013) is opposed to nuclear power for Australia. (www.nuclear-heritage.net) In 2015 the South Australian government set up a royal commission into the potential for nuclear power.
Australia’s uranium has been mined since 1954, and three mines are currently operating. More are planned. Australia’s known uranium resources are the world’s largest – 31% of the world total. In 2014 Australia produced 5897 tonnes of U3O8 (5000 tU). It is the world’s third-ranking producer, behind Kazakhstan and Canada. All production is exported. (www.world-nuclear.org) Mining Weekly reported in April 2015 that uranium has the potential to be the next billion-dollar export industry in Australia, with an earning potential of up to AU-$ 2 billion per year.
On the other hand nuclear testing, uranium mining and export, and nuclear energy have often been the subject of public debate in Australia, and the anti-nuclear movement in Australia has a long history. Its origins date back to the 1972–73 debate over French nuclear testing in the Pacific and the 1976–77 debate about uranium mining in Australia.
Australia has three operating uranium mines at Olympic Dam (Roxby) and Beverley – both in South Australia’s north – and at Ranger in the Northern Territory. As of April 2009, construction has begun on South Australia’s third uranium mine—the Honeymoon Uranium Mine.
Several groups specifically concerned with nuclear issues were established in the mid-1970s, including the Movement Against Uranium Mining and Campaign Against Nuclear Energy (CANE), cooperating with other environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth and the Australian Conservation Foundation. But by the late 1980s, the price of uranium had fallen, and the costs of nuclear power had risen, and the anti-nuclear movement seemed to have won its case. CANE disbanded itself in 1988. (www.nuclear-heritage.net)