Uranium In Australia : A Detailed TimelineCompiled by the SEA-US Webmaster
1869 to 1969
- November 20 - First signs of uranium mineralisation discovered at Beverley, SA.
- Aerial radiometric surveys flown by Noranda Ltd of the Alligators Rivers region shows many large anomalies, leading to drilling at Ranger and Koongarra the following year.
- Prime Minister John Gorton announces plans for a 500 MW nuclear reactor, owned and operated by the commonwealth, to be built at Jervis Bay, NSW.
- Discoveries of major uranium deposits in Alligator Rivers region, Northern Territory - Ranger, Jabiluka, Koongarra and Nabarlek.
- Exploration for uranium starts in the Alligator Rivers region following publication by the Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR) of new geological studies and maps.
- April - Exploration boom for uranium starts following a relaxation of export controls.
- August - Moline gold/uranium processing plant premanently closes in the South Alligator Valley.
- Commercial Irradiation plant commissioned in Sydney, NSW - Johnson & Johnson (see Steritech).
- South Alligator uranium mines closed - sites are still radioactively contaminated.
- August - Moline uranium processing plant ceases in the South Alligator Valley. Plant converted for gold extraction from residual tailings and new ores.
- October - Mary Kathleen Uranium mine in Queensland is mothballed due to no further contracts and the collapse of world uranium demand.
- August 15 - Australian Minister for External Affairs, Mr Garfield Barwick, announces that Australia will sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
- February - Port Pirie uranium treatment plant closed.
- Pandanus Creek uranium mine is closed.
- December - Radium Hill mine closed permanently.
- Rockhole uranium processing plant permanently closed in the South Alligator Valley.
- Major pollution first reported at Rum Jungle - "trees along the banks of one stream are dying and water holes [are] devoid of fish" (2).
- Pandanus Creek uranium mine in the Northern Territory, near the Northern Territory-Queensland border, begins operation. The hand-picked ore is trucked to the Rum Jungle mine for treatment.
- September - Rockhole uranium processing plant commissioned in the South Alligator Valley.
- May - Moline uranium processing plant commissioned in the South Alligator Valley.
- South Alligator Uranium mines in Northern Territory begin operation - consisting of numerous small mines to supply the UK for it's rapidly expanding nuclear program.
- September 2 - Operation Grapple Z : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Christmas Island (Burgee 2), Pacific.
- September 11 - Operation Grapple Z : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Christmas Island (Halliard 1), Pacific.
- September 2 - Operation Grapple Z : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Christmas Island (Flag Pole 1), Pacific.
- August 22 - Operation Grapple Z : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Christmas Island (Pennant 2), Pacific.
- June - Mary Kathleen Uranium mine in Queensland begins operation.
- April 28 - Operation Grapple Y : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Christmas Island (Grapple Y), Pacific.
- April - HIFAR Reactor officially opened by Prime Minister Robert Menzies.
- Jan. 26 - HIFAR Reactor begins operation at Lucas Heights, southern Sydney. Operated by the AAEC.
- Commercial Irradiation plant commissioned in Dandenong, VIC - the world's first (see Steritech).
- Pandanus Creek uranium deposit discovered. Exploration undertaken by BHP.
- November 8 - Operation Grapple X : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Christmas Island (Round C), Pacific.
- October 9 - Operation Antler : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Maralinga (Taranaki), SA.
- September 25 - Operation Antler : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Maralinga (Biak), SA.
- September 14 - Operation Antler : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Maralinga (Tadje), SA.
- June 19 - Operation Grapple : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Malden Island (Purple Grainte), Pacific.
- May 31 - Operation Grapple : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Malden Island (Orange Herald), Pacific.
- May 15 - Operation Grapple : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Malden Island (Short Granite), Pacific.
- August - Exploration and mining work Cobar 2 ceases, with no significant economic deposit being discovered.
- October 22 - Operation Buffalo : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Maralinga (Breakaway), SA.
- October 11 - Operation Buffalo : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Maralinga (Kite), SA.
- October 4 - Operation Buffalo : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Maralinga (Marcoo), SA.
- September 27 - Operation Buffalo : Britain explodes atomic weapons at Maralinga (One Tree), SA.
- August - Exploration work around the Cobar 2 uranium deposit district begins, leading to several small exploration mines.
- June 19 - Operation Mosaic : Britain explodes nuclear bomb at the Monte Bello Islands. After the test, a cloud of radioactive material drifts towards WA.
- May 16 - Operation Mosaic : Britain explodes nuclear bomb at the Monte Bello Islands. After the second test, a cloud of radioactive material drifts towards WA.
- March - developers of the Mary Kathleen uranium mine sign a contract with the British Atomic Energy Authority for 4,500 short tons of uranium oxide.
- Westmoreland uranium deposit discovered.
- August - Port Pirie uranium treatment plant begins operation.
- May - Myponga/Wild Dog Hill closed due to lack of extensive uranium mineralization and relatively low average ore grades.
- September 10 - Radium Hill mine re-opened by Governor- General, Field Marshall Sir William Slim, to fill contracts for the British-USA Combined Development Agency (CDA). Ore processed at Port Pirie.
- July - Mary Kathleen uranium deposit discovered in north-western Queensland.
- June 23 - North Australian Uranium Corporation's Chief Geologist, George Sleis, discovers the "Sleisbeck" uranium deposit, close to the South Alligator Valley deposits - and the uranium renzy reaches fever-pitch in the Northern Territory.
- March - Skal deposit discovered near the Mt Isa mining region in western Queensland, starting a uranium prospecting bonanza.
- Rum Jungle Uranium mine only 64 km south of Darwin in the Northern Territory begins operation. Consolidated Zinc Pty Ltd (1) authorised the contract to run the mine on behalf of the government.
- October 15 & 27 - Operation Totem : British conduct two nuclear tests at Woomera, SA.
- October - Myponga/Wild Dog Hill uranium deposit discovered, just 40 km south of Adelaide in South Australia. Detailed exploration and mining begins immediately, with the uranium ore trucked to Port Pirie for later processing.
- June 2 - Coronation Hill uranium deposit discovered in the South Alligator region, NT (later to become the Conservation Zone for mineral exploration, and now part of Kakadu). The rich El Sherana uranium deposit discovered soon after, 15 km further west.
- Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC - later to change to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, ANSTO) established by the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act (1953). Immediately assumes control of uranium mining activities across Australia.
- October 3 - Operation Hurricane : British nuclear tests commence at Monte Bello Islands, Western Australia, at the invitation of the Menzies Coalition government.
- Income Tax Assessment Act amended to exempt from tax those profits earned from mining and treating uranium by pre-dominantly Australian controlled companies and subsequently extended to income received from uranium mining by taxpayers resident in Australia.
- Radium Hill mine planned for reopening by the Commonwealth and South Australian Governments for military contracts to the USA and UK.
- Uranium exploration in Australia for British and US weapons.
- August - Jack White discovers uranium at Rum Jungle, NT.
- The reecently formed Bureau of Mineral Resources (Federal agency) began extensive uranium exploration programs across Australia, with £11,380 approved by Prime Minister Ben Chifley.
- September - Atomic Energy Research Advisory Committee established by the Federal government, essentially to advise the CSIRO.
- Radium Hill mine closed.
- Further radium mining attempted at Radium Hill, processing near Adelaide at Dry Creek.
- Radium Hill closed as a radium mine.
- Mount Painter uranium deposit, South Australia, discovered and mining for radium commenced.
- Uranium mineralisation discovered at Radium Hill, and mining begins to extract radium for medical uses (eg - as a cancer therapy). Uranium is the waste product, also used in ceramics and paints.
- First uranium discovery in Australia at Carcoar, NSW. The ore was apparently mined for cobalt from 1888-95.
- Green-coloured mineral discovered at Rum Jungle, NT, by Goyder. Although known not to be copper, the deposit remained unrecognised.
Every attempt is made to make this timeline accurate and comprehensive, but please use carefully !!
Any questions, please email the SEA-US Webmaster.
Page last updated March 19, 2000.
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