MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER


FA147

2 December 1997

URANIUM PRODUCERS TO PAY "SAFEGUARDS FEE"

Australian uranium producers will pay a "Safeguards Fee" for every kilogram of uranium they produce to cover the costs of ensuring that our uranium exports are used for peaceful purposes only.

The Safeguards Fee was recommended by a review of the Nuclear Safeguards (Producers of Uranium Ore Concentrates) Charge Act 1993 ("the Act") to replace the existing flat rate charge. (The Summary and Recommendations Section of the review report is available on the Internet site of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at http://www.dfat.gov.au/isecurity/uoc.html

The Government has accepted all but one of the recommendations made in the review which was completed in June this year. The Government sees no need at this time to repeal or amend s.69A.(2)(a) of the Nuclear Safeguards (Non-Proliferation) Act 1987, which establishes a maximum charge of $500,000 per year per producer.

The Fee provides for costs of future safeguards and physical protection activities associated with Australian uranium exports. At the same time, it ensures that the charge will not be a barrier to the development of new uranium mines or have a disproportionate impact on smaller producers.

The Safeguards Fee will be payable by producers on and from 1 December 1998 and can be implemented by regulation. The exact amount of the Fee will be determined following further examination of the required future staffing level for the Australian Safeguards Office (ASO) and taking account of producers' 1997/98 uranium production levels.

The review of the Act was undertaken by a Committee of Officials as part of the comprehensive review, approved by the Government in June 1996, of all Commonwealth legislation which restricts competition, imposes costs or confers benefits on business. The comprehensive review accords with the requirements of the national competition policy agreed between the Commonwealth and all State and Territory Governments.

Further information: DFAT - Margaret Durnan (02) 62612017