201 Anderson to Curtin

Message [LONDON], 21 June 1944


1. You will remember that when you were here I mentioned to you our defence interest in uranium and gave you an aide-memoire [1] in which I suggested that certain steps should be taken at once to ascertain whether there are substantial deposits at depth in the neighbourhood of the secondary deposits which are known to exist in Australia.

2. I should be most grateful if you could let me know as soon as possible what progress it has been possible to make on the suggestions contained in the aide-memoire, and particularly whether there is any way in which we could provide any assistance from here. I assume that you will be able without difficulty to find in Australia a suitable mining development company with a personnel fully competent for the work proposed, but if we can assist in this or any other way please do not hesitate to let me know.

3. I understand that the Commonwealth Government took steps a short time ago to vest full control of all uranium ores in Australia in itself. I should be grateful if you would let me know exactly what the position is in this respect and whether you are satisfied that the arrangements made are adequate to ensure that material cannot fall into undesirable hands.

4. I have little doubt but that His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will wish to ask you to arrange for all uranium concentrates produced in Australia to be sold to them for the defence purposes of which you are aware. Indeed, I am ready whenever you wish to consider with you the nature of the arrangements which might suitably be made for this purpose.

5. We are interested for similar reasons in thorium. This is a component of monazite sand which is found in many parts of the coasts of Australia, particularly Southern Queensland, the northern coast of New South Wales, and near Copley in the southern part of Western Australia. [2] It is doubtful whether the deposits are rich although it is believed that a number of tons of monazite have been produced in recent years.

6. Whilst it is not at present proposed to acquire supplies of monazite for its thorium content it is important that it should not be allowed to fall into undesirable hands. I should therefore be grateful if you would let me know whether you think that steps could be taken either to control concessions to work these deposits or to regulate the export so that no undesirable destination could be fed even in small quantities. In choosing which method of control to follow it would of course be necessary to have regard to the desirability of taking this action as unobtrusively as possible.

1 Undated. On file AA:A461, C373/1/4, ii. A copy taken by Bruce, dated 15 May, is on file AA:M100, May 1944.

2 Copley is in fact in South Australia and was the nearest railhead to the Mount Painter uranium deposit.