14 May 2009

Uranium export plans tabled in Parliament

2:00 pm on 14 May 2009

The Australian Government plans more exports of uranium to China.

A confidential list of Australia's treaty negotiations with other countries has been accidentally tabled in the parliament.

The ABC reports includes details of negotiations between Australia and China about boosting exports of uranium from BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.

It also lists the current status of negotiations between Australia and Indonesia on a new defence treaty.

It was tabled with Mr Smith's authority in both houses of federal Parliament on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Mr Smith says the document was tabled in error. The Government says it is contacting countries affected by the accidental release.

The document says DFAT officials attended talks in Beijing in January this year, on a proposal by a proposal BHP Billiton to send uranium-infused copper concentrate to China from its Olympic Dam mine.

The document says Australia's nuclear transfer agreement with China would have to be amended to make sure the uranium is properly accounted for.

BHP Billiton has been pushing for more uranium exports to China as part of its plan to expand the Olympic Dam mine.

The company wants to make Australia's biggest underground mine into one of the world's biggest open pit mines over the next 11 years.