ERA in science funding fight
A dispute has emerged over environmental monitoring at a Kakadu uranium mine.
The Ranger Uranium Mine in Kakadu requires scientific monitoring of its impact on world heritage wetlands that it borders.
A subsidiary of Rio Tinto, Energy Resources Australia (ERA), owns the mine.
The company says it has entered into mediation talks with the Commonwealth over the scientiﬁc funding.
Gavin Mudd, part of the mine's independent technical consultation committee, says the dispute relates to an independent monitoring agency for the mine - the Supervising Scientists Branch.
The mine owners have partly funded the work of scientists for decades, helping them research the environmental impact of the mine, located within the Kakadu National Park.
The mine will close in January 2021, and the site must be rehabilitated by 2026.
But ERA does not want to continue paying the $2.5 million in annual funding for the oﬃce in the meantime.
“It's really perplexing,” Dr Mudd told the ABC this week.
“I think there's so many of us that really don't know why this sort of decision has been made by head oﬃce in Rio and putting ERA in this position.
“It was put there as a way to recognise that the supervising scientist was extremely important for ERA to achieve its environmental performance.
“We need the science to be done because we need to monitor for years to make sure we understand all of the complex aspects [of the mine's legacy] such as the revegetation and ecosystems, the cultural land uses for the Mirrar [Indigenous traditional owners], as well as things like the aquatic ecosystems and radiation levels.”
The mediation talks are ongoing.