Australian legal firm Minter Ellison predicts that lifting the ban on Australian uranium exports could present significant opportunities for mining companies in Australia, as Indian and other foreign state-owned enterprises look for uranium exploration opportunities in that country. Mineweb quotes the firm's Energy and Resources partner Andrew Thompson:
"This reversal comes as welcome news to Australian mining companies that are currently restricted by the policy. It will see an increase in uranium export markets, as well as opportunities for foreign direct investment and increased capital for Australian uranium projects.
"Australian uranium explorers and producers would benefit from India's increasing use of nuclear energy, which is expected to grow from 3% to 40% of total domestic electricity consumption by 2050."
Australian PM Julia Gillard announced earlier this week she will push for the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to dump its ban on uranium sales to India, at its national conference next month.
The party's policy currently prevents export of uranium to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which includes India, North Korea, Taiwan, Israel and Pakistan. The treaty is meant to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the ban lift would be BHP Billiton, which has announced a $30-billion expansion of its huge Olympic Dam uranium/copper/silver project. News.com.au reported on Fortescue Metals CEO Neville Power suggesting a link between the ban lift and the still-pending Mineral Resources Rent Tax.
Uranium mining is prohibited in Victoria and New South Wales, while in Queensland, exploration is permitted but extraction is illegal. South Australia and the Northern Territory are the only regions to permit uranium mining, and it was recently legalized in Western Australia.