Speaking at the Australian uranium conference in Perth yesterday, AUA executive director Michael Angwin said the uranium debate was finished and the task facing the industry was to maintain best practice in mining and exporting the commodity to fight back against uranium's critics.
"I want to tell you today, in regards to the uranium mining and export debate, it's over, go home. Australia is now a uranium exporting country and the issue is settled policy," he said.
The value of uranium exports to Australia was $800 million per year and would quickly rise to $1 billion, Angwin said, and could be much higher as new mining began.
Angwin marked the Australian Labor Party's decision to overturn the ‘no new mines policy' as a vital change for the uranium industry.
"The Labor party and the Liberal party, Australia's two mainstream political parties, have essentially the same policy on uranium mining and exports," he said.
"By their admission both accept that it is safe to mine uranium, that it is safe to export it, that Australia and the world's safeguards work, that waste can be managed."
He also said any opposition to uranium pushed the margins of politics and was also quickly losing public support.
"[Some] 55 percent of Australian's support uranium mining. More people support uranium mining than not, in every state and territory. So with both political parties supporting the uranium industry and the majority of Australians in support of the industry, Australia has dealt with its ambiguous relationship with uranium," he said.
However, Angwin warned that the public still needed reassurance about the safety of uranium mining and the industry should be under no illusion that it still had many critics and opponents who would "take every opportunity to find fault and criticise" uranium mining and exports.
The most effective response to the critics was for the industry to adopt a best practice approach to their activities, Angwin said, and also deal with concerns about nuclear proliferation, waste management and safety issues.
Angwin said the AUA was developing a code of practice for the uranium industry which would outline world's best practice into mining and exporting the commodity, which he hoped would be available by the end of the year.