Australia's oldest uranium mine may close as traditional owners opt to take back land over $10M a year

Andrew Sheargold/Getty Images

The fate of the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory will be decided soon.

ERA (Energy Resources of Australia), 68% owned by mining giant Rio Tinto, says it expects an update on a strategic review in the March quarter.

A short time ago, ERA shares were down 6.5% to $0.355.

The review of the mine was started after the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, representing the Mirarr traditional owners, said it didn’t want an extension to the Ranger Authority. The current permits expire in 2021.

The traditional owners, who are paid 4.25% of gross revenue from the mine, want to see the area incorporated into Kakadu National Park.

According to the World Nuclear Association:

Since 1980, Ranger has paid a total of $345 million to aboriginal interests, including royalties, in addition to jobs and community and social contributions.

In a quarterly report today, ERA says the mine produced 669 tonnes of uranium oxide in the December quarter compared to 599 tonnes produced in the same period the year before.

Total production for 2015 was 2,005 tonnes compared to 1,165 tonnes in 2014.

Rio Tinto is looking at a potential non-cash impairment charge of $US300 million relating to its shareholding in ERA.

Australia’s longest continually operating uranium mine started in 1980, some 260km east of Darwin

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