The Queensland Resources Council has told a parliamentary inquiry local uranium could be mined sustainability and economically but another economist says nuclear power can't compete without a carbon price.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane told the inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia that Queensland's untapped uranium deposits were worth $10 billion.
"The ban on uranium mining prevents us from reaping the benefit of regional jobs, investment and royalty taxes," Mr Macfarlane said.
"Queensland's uranium reserves are not only a valuable export, but they also have a role to play in delivering reliable and low-emissions power."
However speaking at the same parliamentary hearing in Brisbane on September 30, UQ School of Economics Professor John Quiggin said nuclear energy generation was only economically feasible in competition with coal and gas with a carbon price of $50 a tonne.
Professor Quiggin said the 2006 Switkowski Inquiry into nuclear power found nuclear power was a practical option with a 10-15 year lead time but would be 20-50 pc more expensive than coal and gas power and would only be competitive with a carbon tax.
"The cost of renewable energy and storage have fallen dramatically (since 2006) while nuclear projects considered promising at the time have experienced substantial overruns," Prof Quiggin said.
"However the crucial conclusion of the report remains valid. In the absence of a carbon price, nuclear power will never be viable in Australia."
The QRC submission makes no mention of the carbon price but said the BP Energy Outlook 2019 and the International Energy Agency recognises nuclear energy has a role to play in making significant reductions to global greenhouse gas emissions.
"Under the advanced emissions reductions scenarios modelling in both reports, nuclear energy use will grow between 2.3 per cent to 7 per cent each year through to 2040," the QRC said.
"Even accounting for less aggressive emissions reductions models, nuclear energy will be an important option for countries that want to ensure reliable, low-emissions power in the decades ahead."
Mr Macfarlane told the inquiry uranium mining would boost job growth and support Queensland's North West Minerals Province, home of Mary Kathleen mine, where uranium was mined until the 1980s.
"An increase in uranium exploration or development will increase the state of knowledge of Queensland's resource endowment," he said.
"This may well lead to the discovery of important new deposits of uranium as well as other elements and resources."