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Ranger is a uranium mine about 260 kilometres east of Darwin in the Northern Territory (NT). Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) operate the mine and produce around 2,000 tons of uranium oxide each year.
Ranger operates in an environmentally sensitive area. It is on Aboriginal land, surrounded by Kakadu National Park. The Mirarr people are the traditional owners.
The Australian and Northern Territory governments regulate Ranger. The NT Government regulates day-to-day activities.
As the Ranger mine is on Aboriginal land, the Government has an agreement with the Northern Land Council which facilitates ERA’s access to the area. This is consistent with the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth).
The Government also holds a security for the rehabilitation of the Ranger mine under a separate agreement with ERA.
Ranger is Australia’s longest running uranium mine. The Ranger uranium deposit was discovered in 1969 before the Northern Territory become self-governing. Unlike most onshore mines, the Australian Government directly approved its development.
In 1975, the Government commissioned the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry into the mine’s proposed development. As a result of the Inquiry, the Government approved the Ranger mine. Mining operations began in 1980.
Under its section 41 authority, ERA must stop mining uranium at Ranger by 8 January 2021. It must also complete rehabilitation works by 8 January 2026.
ERA is required to rehabilitate Ranger to a standard similar to the adjacent areas. This condition was imposed on the mine’s operators when Ranger was approved.
While ERA is expected to continue mining uranium at Ranger until 2021, it has started planning for the mine’s rehabilitation and closure. This will be done in consultation with the governments, traditional owners and other stakeholders.
Energy Resources of Australia must submit a Mine Closure Plan (MCP) for the Northern Territory and Commonwealth resources ministers to approve each year. This is the rehabilitation plan referenced in the Environmental Requirements.
ERA submitted its first Ranger Mine Closure Plan to the ministers in June 2018. The plan describes how the miner proposes to achieve the Environmental Requirements, including:
The plan reflects the miner’s current knowledge and understanding of key rehabilitation activities.
In September 2018 advice to governments, the Supervising Scientist recommended the plan be approved. In December 2018, following review of the plan, advice of the Supervising Scientist and other stakeholders, the NT and Commonwealth Ministers approved the MCP as a description of ERA’s broad closure strategy.
ERA must follow a process each year when submitting a plan for approval:
ERA is working with governments to develop closure criteria. These are quantifiable measures or outcomes used to test if the mine has achieved the Environmental Requirements. The Commonwealth and NT ministers must approve the criteria. These will be finalised in the next two years as Ranger nears the end of uranium production.
When ERA can demonstrate it has met all Environmental Requirements, the Ranger project area will receive a close-out certificate.
Email us: RemediationPolicySection@industry.gov.au
Email the NT government: Mineral.Info@nt.gov.au
Last updated: 19 February 2019
Content ID: 46481