Each company must have an Individual Transport Plan approved, and have a ‘Permit to Possess Nuclear Material’ or ‘Permit to Transport Nuclear Material’ from the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO). Companies also need an ‘Export Permission’ from the Australian Government Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism. Companies are also inspected by State Health and Safety Regulators. These systems work together to ensure UOC is safely and securely shipped.
Australian uranium is transported around the world by road, rail, and sea. The journey starts at the mine where the UOC is put into 200 litre steel drums,e ach weighing between 300-400 kg. The drums are inspected to check they are tightly sealed when they are moved.
The drums are tied down with kevlar straps and packed into shipping containers that are locked, sealed and secured at the mine site.
Every year around 50 shipments of 500 containers of Australian uranium are safely transported by road and rail to ports in Adelaide and Darwin where they are shipped. The containers are locked and are only opened for official inspections until they reach their overseas destination for processing before delivery to companies around the world.
Uranium is a low-volume, high-value product. It has been transported in Australia from mines to ports for export for more than 30 years.
The two current points of exit are Darwin and Adelaide. Uranium is transported by road from the Ranger mine (Northern Territory) and from the Olympic Dam, Beverley and Honeymoon mines in South Australia to those ports.
Since the early 1980s, more than 6,800 containers of uranium from the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory, over 3,600 from Olympic Dam in South Australia and 583 from the Beverley uranium mine, also in South Australia, have been transported to ports at Adelaide or Darwin with no incidents involving a spillage of uranium oxide over that period.
There have been no uranium transport incidents that have posed any risk to public health or to the environment.
Radioactive material is transported under national and international rules developed by experts and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency has adopted the IAEA’s regulations.