268 Duncan to Chifley

Cablegram 10200 LONDON, 25 September 1945, 10.46 p.m.

TOP SECRET

Your 211 of 4th September [1], Uranium.

Sir John Anderson [2] who is advising the Prime Minister and with whom the High Commissioner took up the matter finds it difficult to give full and satisfactory answers to the questions raised. He fully appreciates the Commonwealth Government's desire for information which would enable them to evaluate their resources.

The technical possibilities are still so little known, however, and are changing so much that it is impossible to say definitely what quantities of uranium will be significant in a few years time. Based on present knowledge, he can say with some assurance that it seems unlikely that a country will be able in the near future to embark on the use of uranium for either defence or for commercial purposes with any hope of success unless it has at its disposal some hundreds of tons of uranium oxide. On this basis he adds:

'Your Government might feel that it would be extravagant to proceed with any development of Mount Painter. On the other hand it would obviously be in the interest of Australia and Empire defence generally if the Government would make a point of collecting any information coming to hand, pointing to the discovery in Australia of deposits on a more considerable scale than those at present suspected.' He imagines that prospectors and mining concerns generally will be energetic in their search for these materials now that there has been so much publicity and it is important that the knowledge of their discoveries should get into the right hands quickly.

DUNCAN

1 Document 233.

2 Until July, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

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