ERA has been allowed to dip into its mine security bond to pay for the clean-up of the Ranger uranium mine. 

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has been struggling to cover costs to rehabilitate the Ranger uranium mine, and has now been granted access to $56.8 million from its security bond held by the Federal Government.

ERA says it was approved for an interim payment from the Ranger Rehabilitation Trust Fund, which holds $537 million.

“The interim drawdown amount is $56.8 million and ERA expects to receive these funds in November 2022,” the company said in an announcement. 

“After drawdown, the sum of $481 million will remain in the Ranger Rehabilitation Trust Fund.”

Estimates suggest the rehabilitation of Ranger, which was closed in 2021 after 40 years of operation, will cost up to $2.2 billion.

The withdrawal from the Ranger Rehabilitation Trust Fund comes after a tumultuous period in which ERA found itself in a stand-off with its majority shareholder Rio Tinto over the possibility of further mining at the neighbouring Jabiluka uranium deposit.

Rio does not support any further mining at the deposits.

After changes on the ERA board, Rio Tinto agreed to loan $100 million to ERA to help cover clean-up costs.

“We are committed to working with ERA to facilitate this board renewal process and urgently develop a workable plan to fund the increased rehabilitation costs,” Rio Tinto chief executive Australia, Kellie Parker, said at the time.

“We restate our belief that the successful rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area, which is of critical importance to the Mirarr People, Rio Tinto and ERA, can be achieved in a way that is consistent with the Mirarr People’s wishes. This remains our utmost priority and commitment.”

The Federal Government says it is open to the option of extending the deadline for ERA to rehabilitate the Ranger site from 2026 to 2028.