Down the yellowcake road: The minefield of Australian uranium

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Using a range of sources, from personal narrative to news reportage, government discourse and both pro and antinuclear polemic, this article examines the fraught business of uranium mining and export in contemporary Australia in the context of the nuclear history of this country since the Second World War.The first great boom in Australian uranium, during the 1950s, was attended by nationalistic triumphalism: an isolated country had been catapulted onto the Cold War map. But that initial burst of enthusiasm has given way to agonising over the ramifications of being a primary purveyor of the fundamental nuclear fuel to a volatile world. A succession of governments has struggled to resolve embedded inconsistency on the issue, and the bipartisan political enthusiasm for expanding the uranium industry clashes with the hostility of a public otherwise sympathetic to mining.Concerns about the global consequences of peddling a potentially lethal resource are exacerbated by the most vexing of all Australian domestic concerns-that of indigenous rights-for the modern Midas mineral is found primarily on Aboriginal land. The landscape of Australian uranium is a minefield of competing motives and interests and invokes two national narratives that seem irreconcilable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438 - 450
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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