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Approval granted for Ranger uranium restart

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The Ranger Uranium mine will today commence a progressive restart of operations, having received written approval from the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy and the Commonwealth Minister for Industry.

Investigations into the failure and collapse of a leach tank at Ranger have been completed, including those carried out by the Northern Territory and Commonwealth regulators and independently commissioned by mine operator Energy Resources of Australia (ERA).

ERA chief executive Andrea Sutton acknowledged the serious nature of the incident, and it had damaged community confidence in their mining operations.

“We recognise that an important aspect of the recovery from this incident will be restoration of that confidence in our processing operations,” she said.

“The measures we have undertaken are designed to prevent anything similar happening in the future and to reassure our stakeholders and the broader community of the integrity of our operation.

“We expect the processing plant to return to normal production levels during the third quarter of this year.

“ERA will continue to work closely with the government and our stakeholders as we progressively increase our production.”

Environment groups have expressed their concern that Northern Territory and Commonwealth approval for the restart has been granted prior to the release of any details from the investigation reports.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said today that an independent investigation report was handed to the investigative task force last week, a report which has not been made public.

The progressive restart to processing operations will be carried out through the second and third quarters of 2014.

ERA’s 2014 production of uranium oxide is expected to be between 1,100 tonnes and 1,500 tonnes.

First half earnings have been impacted by the costs of the stoppage, and the company has provided earnings guidance of a loss of between $120 million and $140 million.

ACF noted the irony that Ranger will be restarted today, on World Environment Day.

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