A subsidiary of Rio Tinto, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), is set to restart its Ranger Uranium mine processing plant, which has been shut down since December 2013 due to a toxic leak.
The Ranger Uranium mine is bordered by the Kakadu National park in Australia’s Northern Territory, which is approximately 260km east of Darwin. The site consists of three ore bodies.
In early December 2013, the site’s 1,400m³ leach tank one was holding uranium oxide slurry and acid when it collapsed, causing radioactive and acidic slurry to spill out.
Processing at the site was immediately ceased by the Australian Government.
According to the Northern Territory Environment Centre estimates, around one million litres of acidic radioactive material spilled out of the processing tank.
The company said that the restart of processing operations at the mine remains subject to regulatory approvals from the Commonwealth Minister for Industry and the executive director of the Department of Mines and Energy in the Northern Territory.
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The scope of work to bring the site to readiness for restart is slated for completion in April.
Based on on-going monitoring, it has been confirmed that the surrounding area has not been affected by the tank failure.
All other rehabilitation, water management and the Ranger 3 deep exploration decline works at the mine will continue as scheduled, the company said.
Claimed to be the second largest uranium mine in the world, the Ranger mine was discovered in 1969 and began operations in 1980.
Image: Energy Resources of Australia’s Ranger uranium mine. Photo: courtesy of Codrington, Stephen.