Honeymoon mine fails again: Senate calls for an end to controversial plan

October 15, 2003

National environment group Friends of the Earth (FoE) has today welcomed a new call for an end to the Honeymoon uranium project in South Australia.

The call is one of the key findings of a Senate Inquiry into the environmental regulation of uranium mining that was established following a number of serious uranium leaks, spills and accidents and made its report today.

Key Findings:
The Committee has grave reservations about the commencement of full-scale mining at Honeymoon.

Recommendation 25
That mining operations at Honeymoon not proceed unless and until conclusive evidence can be presented demonstrating that the relevant aquifer is isolated.

The Honeymoon project in north-eastern SA uses the acid in-situ leach (ISL) method which involves pumping sulphuric acid into groundwater to dissolve uranium. Liquid is then pumped to the surface to be processed with radioactive wastes and heavy metals pumped back into groundwater.

Friends of the Earth maintain that the underlying aquifers are not isolated and that there is serious potential for contamination of groundwater if mining goes ahead and have called repeatedly for a stay on the use of the ISL technique.

The project, promoted by Canadian based Southern Cross Resources, has experienced groundwater contamination problems during trial operations.

Other key findings of the Senate Inquiry include calls for independent monitoring of uranium mines; greater transparency, scrutiny and reporting; improved enforcement and an increased recognition to the rights and aspirations of traditional owners.

"In the driest state of the driest continent on earth, it is astonishing that this
company was ever given a license to pollute precious groundwater reserves that may be essential to life in the future," said FoE nuclear campaigner Loretta O'Brien.

"The findings of this inquiry, following the recent rehabilitation of the
Jabiluka mine-site is a signal that the time is running out for this toxic industry. Southern Cross should end plans to mine at Honeymoon and clean up instead."

For comment:

Loretta O'Brien
Nuclear Campaigner
Mob: 0418 178 053