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Assessment of the Jabiluka Project : report of the Supervising Scientist to the World Heritage Committee



Assessment of the Jabiluka Project : report of the Supervising Scientist to the World Heritage Committee


Johnston, A.; Prendergast, J. B.; Bridgewater, Peter


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT; Supervising Scientist Report; 138




Alligator Rivers Region

Table of contents

Main report--Appendix 2 of the Main Report. Submission to the Mission of the World Heritage Committee by some Australian Scientists ... --Attachment A. Johnston A. and Needham S. 1999. Protection of the environment near the Ranger uranium mine--Attachment B. Bureau of Meteorology 1999. Hydrometeorological analysis relevant to Jabiluka--Attachment C. Jones, R.N., Hennessy, K.J. and Abbs, D.J. 1999. Climate change analysis relevant to Jabiluka--Attachment D. Chiew, F and Wang, Q.J. 1999. Hydrological anaysis relevant to surface water storage at Jabiluka--Attachment E. Kalf, F. and Dudgeon, C. 1999. Analysis of long term groundwater dispersal of contaminants from proposed Jabiluka mine tailings repositories--Appendix 2 of Attachment E. Simulation of leaching on non-reactive and radionuclide contaminants from proposed Jabiluka silo banks.




Uranium mill tailings - Environmental aspects - Northern Territory - Alligator Rivers Region; Environmental impact analysis - Northern Territory - Jabiluka; Uranium mines and mining - Environmental aspects - Northern Territory - Jabiluka; Jabiluka - Environmental aspects

Publisher name

Environment Australia

Place of publication

Canberra (A.C.T.)


Supervising Scientist Report; 138


1 volume (various pagings) : illustrations, maps

File type






Copyright owner

Environment Australia



Parent handle


Citation address


Related items

https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462403; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462400; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462405; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462406; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462408; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462409; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/462411

Page content

93 If the Jabiluka Mill Alternative proceeds, however, the issue of adequate capacity for disposal of the tailings from Jabiluka does not arise because all tailings will be returned underground. The mining and milling of any additional reserves of uranium would result in return of the additional tailings produced to the additional mine void and to additional silos excavated for the purpose. There would be no need for further assessment under the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974. 7.4 Landscape-wide analyses Wasson et al (1998) suggest that the landscape context of the mine proposal has been inadequately addressed. The EIS did contain some detail on the vegetation associations using the work of Wilson et al (1990a and b), the authoritative work on vegetation in the Northern Territory. The Jabiluka mine will be a point impact, with some specific potential effects, which are addressed in the main body of this report. It is simply not true to suggest that the EIS and PER are inadequate because they have not considered a Kakadu National Heritage Park (sic) scale. The potential impact on wetlands is, however, considered to be a key element of the environmental protection associated with Jabiluka, as it is with Ranger. The potential effects of any environmental impacts will arise from groundwater intrusion, and from accidental impacts on surface features. Such impacts have been included in the work contained in the EIS/PER, and have been subjected to further critical review in this report. While it is true the sort of digital terrain modelling contained in Wasson et al (1998) is not included in the EIS/PER, it is not considered necessary or appropriate to determine the safety of the mine proposal. Further, the suggestion that Jabiluka is the only escarpment unit adjacent to the swamp ecosytem is untrue. The term swamp ecosystem suggests a uniformity that a casual examination shows to be false the floodplains are a very complex spatial and temporal mix of vegetation and faunal communities. Jabiluka, as an outlier of the escarpment, is similar to Mt Brockman, Nourlangie Rock, Mt Basedow and others. The Jabiluka site does have a very rich landscape texture, derived from a complex mix of topography and surface geology. The Jabiluka project, however, will not have any long-term effects on this landscape texture. The assertion that the context modelling for the minesite need be broader than is currently the case is therefore rejected. 7.5 Acid sulphate soils The submission of Wasson et al (1998) notes the existence of acid sulphate soils on the Magela floodplain downstream from the Jabiluka mine site and proposes that these soils could give rise to the following concerns: (i) Heavy metals accidentally released from the mine site could be mobilised into downstream ecosystems by acid from the soils, and (ii) Developments associated with the mine, such as the pumping of water from a billabong to service the Ja-Ja camp, could lead to increased acidity in surface waters. With respect to the second of these concerns, the proposal to re-establish the old Ja-Ja camp, which was outlined in the Supplement to the EIS (section 5.4.2), was withdrawn in the PER on the Jabiluka Mill Alternative (section 4.3.7). As a result, there is now no intention to pump 10,000 L of water per day from the billabong. Water requirements will be limited to

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