South Australia has a history of mining radioactive ores and processing uranium concentrates, dating back as far as the 1800s. Sites where these activities occurred were operated and decommissioned in a manner consistent with standards of the day (in cases where there were standards) and left residual hazards.
Recognising the need to ensure ongoing protection of the environment and the safety of communities, regulatory regimes for radiation were established. They aim to protect the environment and people and these sites have been subject to varying degrees of ongoing review and regulatory oversight. This is to ensure protection of the public and management of the sites consistent with state, national and international standards.
The Port Pirie uranium treatment plant was included in the original Radium Hill project which was commissioned and operated by the Government of South Australia to satisfy a contract signed by the Commonwealth and State Government with the UK-USA Combined Development Agency for delivery of uranium over a seven-year period. This project included the establishment, operation and decommissioning of the Radium Hill underground uranium mine and the Port Pirie uranium treatment plant.
Port Pirie rare earth treatment plant remediation project
The former Port Pirie uranium (U) and rare earth (RE) treatment plant site is immediately north of the city of Port Pirie, adjacent to the Nyrstar lead smelter.
The treatment plant was operated by the State Government from 1954 to 1962 for the recovery of uranium and rare earths. Following the closure of the plant in 1962, a number of smaller companies have used the property for various operations including the further pursuit of rare earth elements.