233 Chifley to Bruce

Cablegram 211 CANBERRA, 4 September 1945

TOP SECRET

Our 53 16th March [1] and previous exchanges re uranium. [2] We are proceeding with liquidation Mount Painter project and expect that final report will be available in four or five weeks. Time occupied in finalisation of report has been due to other heavy calls upon scientific officers and to our desire to submit documents as complete and detailed as possible.

In view of successes achieved in use of atomic bomb against Japan we are most anxious to obtain sufficient information about uses of uranium for defence and commercial purposes to enable us to evaluate our resources and to determine whether any further work should be undertaken.

Your 21 of 1st February [3] indicated that volume of production likely to be derived from Mount Painter was insufficient to be of value for purposes which United Kingdom had in mind, but it is probable that smaller quantities of uranium than would be attractive to United Kingdom would be useful to Australia both for commercial and defence purposes. We might, therefore, be justified in undertaking much more extensive exploratory and developmental work on our own account.

While we appreciate that any details of processes or methods of control probably cannot be disclosed to us at present, we feel that sufficient information could be given us to determine whether we should undertake a vigorous programme of exploration and development. Little is known about our resources of uranium except in limited area recently explored at Mount Painter and it is possible that other deposits may exist in the Flinders Ranges adjacent to Mount Painter or elsewhere.

CHIFLEY

1 On file AA : A461/2, C373/1/4, ii.

2 See Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-49, vol. VII.

Cablegram 491, dispatched 12 January, conveyed the U.K. Govt's decision that unless geological reports demonstrated should be wound up. A summary of the geological report, which indicated that the minimum yields set by the U.K. Govt cuold not be guaranteed, is in cablegram 27, dispatched 6 February. Both Cablegrams are on the file cited in note 1.

3 Cablegram 21 was in fact dispatched on 21 February. On the file cited in note 1.

[AA : A461/2, C373/1/4, ii]