Queensland wants to take uranium mining applications next year

The government of the Australian state of Queensland is planning to resume uranium mining and hopes to start taking applications by as early as mid-2014.

Australia has the world's largest known reserves of uranium and Queensland's resources are estimated to be worth around $18 billion.

UPI reports Queensland's last uranium mine, the Mary Kathleen, closed 31 years ago and the Queensland government banned uranium mining outright in the early nineties.

Australia is the third largest producer but is only responsible for roughly 11% of global output, far behind leaders Kazakhstan and Canada which together control more than half the world's supply.

The spot uranium price was trading around $70 a pound in 2011, but fell back sharply following the Fukushima disaster in Japan which saw the Asian nation and a number of European countries scale back nuclear activity dramatically.

Prices are now languishing at 8-year lows of $34 a pound, leading to a dearth of new projects with BHP Billiton's expansion of Olympic Dam the most notable victim.

Prices have not recovered despite more than 70 reactors being built around the world, 29 of them in China.