The South Australian Government’s decision to halt all mining in the Arkaroola region in the State’s far-north stands to stall uranium exploration in the area.


The region is home to Australia’s fifth-largest uranium deposit at Mt Gee which is currently being explored by Marathon Resources. The company is yet to officially respond to the State Government’s ban but is considering a compensation claim on the grounds that it renewed its lease over the deposit in February without being warned over in forthcoming environmental protection decisions.


Environment Minister Paul Caica countered the claims of the mining industry arguing they did not have an express right to mine the area, regardless of any exploration licence.


“We acknowledge that the mining industry needs certainty, which is why, at the time, we made it very clear that the exploration licence in no way confers a right to mine, and further that we were actively examining options for the future conservation management of the Arkaroola Sanctuary.” Mr Caica said.


Mr Caica said that the opening of the Woomera Prohibited Area more than compensated the mining industry over any loses incurred from banning mining in the Arkaroola region.


Announcing the protection, Premier Mike Rann said that the legislation will “fully recognise” the unique heritage of the area.


“So after comprehensive discussions, we have decided to give the region unprecedented protection, initially under the Mining Act, but going even further with legislation to specifically exclude mining, and giving clear and specific protection to the area,” Mr Rann said.