$900m rare earths mine in Central Australia approved despite radioactive risk
A proposed $900 million rare earths mine in Central Australia is recommended for approval by the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority.

Arafura Resources Sustainability manager Brian Fowler said the low level radioactive material produced in the processing of rare earth material would be stored onsite in purpose-built dams.

"There will have to be a high level of operational management control for this project over a couple of generations, and there'll have to be a high level of regulatory scrutiny, there's no two ways about that," EPA chairman Paul Vogel said.

The primary risks include the permanent storage of naturally occurring radioactive material onsite and the use of significant groundwater resources over the 35 to 55-year lifespan of the project.

Mr Vogel said he understood public concern about such issues, and the effectiveness of the EPA to effectively monitor them, but said the authority was better placed to provide sufficient oversight.

It is estimated the project will use 2.7 gigalitres of groundwater a year, and the EPA has recommended aquifer levels and water usage be monitored in real-time with data made available to the public.

Energy Resources of Australia reviews its Ranger uranium mine
The operator of the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory is considering the mine's future after the Mirarr traditional owners advised they do not support an extension past the 2021 lease.

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) today released its December quarter review for 2015 to the ASX.

It showed uranium production was up by 12 per cent to 669 tonnes compared with the December quarter in 2014.

Overall production for the year was up by 840 tonnes, or 72 per cent, on the previous year.

The company said it would update the market this quarter on its strategic review for the mine, which is surrounded by the Kakadu National Park.

"ERA has initiated a strategic review of its business following advice from the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation that the Mirarr Traditional Owners do not support an extension to the Ranger Authority," its statement to the ASX said.

"ERA expects to provide an update on the strategic review in the March 2016 quarter."

The company noted: "There was no exploration expenditure in the December 2015 quarter, in line with the September 2015 quarter."

It also said rehabilitation of the mine site continued during the quarter.

"Commissioning of the dredge and tailings transfer infrastructure began during the December 2015 quarter. Dredging of tailings from the Tailings Storage Facility to Pit 3 for final deposition has commenced," the company said.

Uranium has been mined at Ranger for three decades, making it Australia's longest continually operating uranium mine.

Kakadu Charter marks 15 years of shared values
Fifteen years ago this week two very different Australians representing the aspirations of very different communities signed a document outlining a shared vision for a better future. One was Yvonne Margarula leading the Mirarr people, the traditional owners of large parts of Kakadu. The other was Peter Garrett, famous at the time for fronting Midnight Oil and president of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Their names concluded the Kakadu Charter - a short document with a modest style that disguises its continuing significance.

What started as opposition to plans for uranium mining at Jabiluka has grown into a powerful platform for a different and better way of doing business in Kakadu. ERA is now majority owned by Rio Tinto who have publicly vowed not to mine Jabiluka without the consent of the Mirarr. This significant improvement in circumstances was bolstered by the end of threatened uranium mining elsewhere in Kakadu when the former Koongarra Project Area was incorporated into the surrounding Kakadu National Park and permanently protected from mining.

The challenge now facing ERA, Rio Tinto and the Northern Territory and Australian governments together with the Mirarr is one of comprehensive rehabilitation and facilitating the transition to a post mining regional economy – a vision clearly expressed in the Kakadu Charter.

The 15th anniversary of the Kakadu Charter is a good time for Aboriginal and environmental advocates to re-confirm our shared concern, action and effectiveness for the long awaited total rehabilitation and completion of Kakadu National Park.

In mid-October, after the Mirarr formally confirmed their support for the position taken publicly by Rio Tinto, ERA advised the Australian Stock Exchange that it respects "the views of the Traditional Owners and will undertake a review of its business in the light of their decision".

Traditional owners reject ERA's Ranger uranium extension
Traditional owners have officially rejected Energy Resources of Australia's desire to extend the expiry date on the Ranger uranium extension.

The slow demise of Kakadu uranium producer Energy Resources of Australia has continued, with the local Indigenous group confirming on Thursday that it would not support an extension to the company's mining lease.

ERA's lease, which is set to expire in 2021, is located on the traditional lands of the Mirarr people, and their support has been seen as a significant part of ERA's licence to operate.

ERA said it would undertake a review of its business in light of the decision, and was assessing whether an impairment was necessary.

Uranium mine backburning 'threatening Kakadu cultural sites'
he Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) said in a statement that ERA had failed to contain the fire, which it said had been lit too late in the dry season and on a hot and windy day.

"Once again the stone country is aflame late in the dry season," a spokeswoman said.

"This country has taken an absolute hammering over recent years from very hot, late dry season fires."

Indigenous traditional owners say a fire started at the Ranger uranium mine last week has moved into Kakadu National Park and is threatening cultural sites.

The late dry season fire burned with more heat and torched trees used for habitat by endangered species, as well as threatening sites of cultural significance.

"Important cultural sites are under threat as we speak," she said.

"Mirarr traditional owners are angry that this has been allowed to happen on their lands."

"ERA's failure to contain this fire demonstrates that nature does not discriminate between a uranium mining lease and a world heritage listed national park. This is one continuous landscape and this situation has huge implications for the future rehabilitation of the mine site"