The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report found that South Australia can safely increase its participation in nuclear activities and deliver significant economic benefits to the State.

The report makes 12 key recommendations regarding South Australia’s further participation in the nuclear fuel cycle, including pursuing the establishment of nuclear fuel and intermediate level waste storage and disposal facilities.

The Commission determined, on conservative estimates, that a waste storage and disposal facility could generate $257 billion in total revenue, with costs of $145 billion over the 120-year life of the project, including a $32 billion reserve fund for facility closure and ongoing monitoring.

Exploration, extraction and milling

Finding:
Current administrative and regulatory frameworks effectively manage existing, and future risks arising from an expansion of uranium mining in South Australia. An expanded exploration and mining industry would provide modest additional benefits to the state.

Recommendations:

  • Simplify approvals for mining radioactive ores
  • Further enhance pre-competitive geophysical data
  • Undertake more detailed geophysical survey work
  • Commit to long-term investment in exploration programs
  • Ensure decommissioning and remediation costs are fully covered in advance

Further processing and manufacture

Finding:
Further processing radioactive materials is unlikely to be commercially viable in SA in the next decade, due to over-supply and barriers to market entry. In the future, multilateral fuel leasing arrangements linked to waste disposal could be commercially attractive and would provide additional employment and technology-transfer opportunities for SA.

Recommendations:

  • Remove legislative prohibitions to enable fuel leasing
  • Actively support increased use of the cyclotron at South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.

Electricity generation

Finding:
Nuclear power generation would not be commercially viable in SA under current market rules, but should be considered as a future low-carbon energy source to contribute to national emissions reduction targets.

Recommendations:

  • Remove existing prohibitions on nuclear power generation
  • Develop low-carbon, technology-neutral energy policy
  • Monitor developments in new nuclear reactor designs for future consideration

Management, storage and disposal of waste

Finding:
South Australia has the attributes and capabilities to manage and dispose of international used nuclear fuel safely, and it would have significant intergenerational benefit to the community. Social and community consent is fundamental to this activity proceeding.

Recommendations:

  • Pursue a purpose-built waste storage and disposal facility for used nuclear fuel
  • Remove potential legislative constraints to properly consider this opportunity

Next steps

In response to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Report, the South Australian Government has:

  • Commenced a comprehensive state-wide consultation process
  • Established the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Consultation and Response Agency to aid community understanding of the Royal Commission’s report and facilitate the community consultation process
  • Established the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission Consultation and Response Advisory Board, an independent board to oversee the agency throughout the consultation process
  • Established a motion to Parliament to establish a Joint House Select Committee to consider the findings of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, focusing on the issues associated with the establishment of a nuclear waste storage facility.