Development of Australia's huge, untapped uranium reserves was virtually guaranteed today when a government-appointed board of inquiry recommended that mining in the country's interior should go ahead under strict guidelines aimed at protecting the environment.
The report paves the way for the government of Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser to sanction commercial development of the mines and export of the uranium ore. It could mean a huge new world trade for Australia, which has more uranium reserves than any other country in the non-Communist world.
Whether the huge reserves should be opned up has been a controversial question here for several years, and the government board of inquiry look three years to complete its report.
The head of the board, a judge, Mr. Justice Fox, recommended a series of tough rules to protect the commercial interests and the environment of nomadic tribes of black aborigines, whose ancestors have lived for 20,000 years on the land where the deposits were discovered in the early 1970s.
Fox said the greatest threat to the 600 surviving aborigines in the area, known as Arnhem Land in the far Australian northwest, is a potential influx of whites into the area once mining is opened up.
While the board said it would be necessary to build small mining towns, it recommended against construction of such things as motels and tourist hotels in the area, which the aborigines consider sacred.
The board also recommended that a huge national park, to be controlled jointly by the government and aboriginal conucils, be set up to embrace the area of the uranium deposits.
Yesterday Fraser announced a series of safeguards for uranium export that were almost identical to the policy announced last month for American exports by President Carter.
Australia has refused to sign any contracts to sell uranium since 1972, despite the fact it has more than half a million tons of ore that could be mined at a selling price of $30 a pound.
In December 1972 the Socialist government of current Australian opposition leader Gough Whitlam halted development of the ore until questions of aboriginal rights and benefits could be settled. He set up the government board of injury in 1974.
Fraser, who strongly favors mining and who defeated Whitlam last year, decide not arouse environmental groups and others opposed to the mining but to wait for the board's report.