Australian news, and some related international items

Australian govt fast tracks approval for Cameco uranium mine, despite environmental concerns

Uranium mine approved for WA despite environmental warnings,  Steve HollandApproval of a uranium mine in Western Australia has prompted concern from environmental and indigenous groups.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has granted conditional approval to Canadian uranium miner Cameco to develop the Kintyre mine in WA’s north.

But Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation said the East Pilbara mine, adjacent to the Karlamilyi National Park, will harm the environment and people.

“On Anzac eve the government has backed the wrong diggers,” he said.  “This mine plan does not enjoy broad support and the mining company has said it has no immediate plans to develop the project because of the low commodity price.

“The federal government had time to genuinely examine this plan. “Instead, it has chosen to fast-track an approval before a national holiday”.

Mia Pepper, from the Conservation Council of WA, said the mine, of which Cameco owns 70 per cent and Mitsubishi holds the remainder, also threatens water quality in the region.

“It is irresponsible for Minister Hunt to have given approval for this project at this time”, she said.
“A unique part of our country faces an unnecessary threat because of this approval.

“We will continue our work with the local Parnngurr community and many wider community members and organisations to stop a poor political decision becoming a polluting Pilbara mine”.

West Australian Environment Minister Albert Jacob granted conditional approval for the mine to go ahead last month. Environment Minister Greg Hunt was contacted for comment.

April 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Kintyre uranium project approved, for when and if uranium price improves

Federal approval granted for Cameco to develop Kintyre uranium mine in Pilbara, ABC News 24 Apr 15  By Tyne McConnon and Ebonnie Spriggs A proposed uranium mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region has been granted conditional Federal environmental approval.

One of the world’s largest uranium producers, Cameco Australia, wants to build the Kintyre open-cut uranium mine 270 kilometres north-east of the town of Newman.

The project received conditional approval from Western Australia’s Environment Minister Albert Jacob last month……..

In a statement, Cameco said the approval by the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt included conditions covering radiation, ground and surface water, terrestrial fauna and mine closure……..

Environmentalists fear long-term impact of uranium waste

Environmentalists have previously condemned the proposal, citing concerns over the level of radiation monitoring required of the company throughout the Karlamilyi National Park, where the mine would be located.

Campaigner Mia Pepper said current regulations for safely managing uranium in Australia were deficient. “The thing with uranium is that it’s different to other minerals. It’s radioactive, and that radiation is very hard to manage in our environment that [has] very, very dry periods and very, very wet periods,” she said.

“That radiation is so mobile in our environment when we start mining it, you know, it becomes hugely dangerous, and I don’t know of anywhere where they can safely mine uranium.

“What’s left behind after mining is radioactive mine waste, and that stays in our environment forever, really, or for at least 10,000 years. “It’s a very long period of time, and it will be there long after this company has stopped existing and long after this Government has changed.”

Traditional owners, the Martu people, signed a land-use deal with Cameco in 2012.

The company said a development decision would be made when market conditions were favourable to new uranium production…

April 25, 2015 Posted by | environment, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Russia’s control of uranium mines in Canada and Australia

antnuke-relevantflag-canadaHow Putin’s Russia Gained Control of a U.S. Uranium Mine, Bloomberg, 24 Apr 15  by  Since 2013, the nuclear energy arm of the Russian state has controlled 20 percent of America’s uranium production capacity.

Rosatom’s acquisition of Toronto-based miner Uranium One Inc. made the Russian agency, which also builds nuclear weapons, one the world’s top five producers of the radioactive metal and gave it ownership of a mine in Wyoming.

The deal, approved by a committee that included then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also followed donations from Uranium One’s Canadian chairman to the Clinton Global Foundation, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

 In an interview with Bloomberg News, Ian Telfer, the former Uranium One chairman and current chairman of Goldcorp Inc., said he pledged a donation of $3 million to the Clinton charity in March 2008, “when it was never contemplated that at some point in the future the Russian government would become a major shareholder of Uranium One.”……

Rosatom gained full control of Uranium One in early 2013.

Rosatom styles itself as Russia’s national nuclear corporation and today Uranium One is its international mining arm. As well as Willow Creek and the Kazakhstan assets, it owns mines in Australia and has exploration assets in Africa and the U.S…….

April 25, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

South Asia security at risk with Canada’s (and Australia’s) uranium deals with India

antnuke-relevantflag-canadaNuclear non-proliferation selectivism Senator Sehar Kamran April 22, 2015 Canada recently signed a 280 million dollar deal for the supply of 3,000 metric tonnes of uranium over the next five years to India, a nuclear weapon state outside the NPT. This deal comes against the backdrop of experts’ warnings that the agreement will spur proliferation in the region, and if the Indian test of Agni III, mere hours after the signing of the deal, is any indication of things to come, the warnings are not without cause. The deal, if put in perspective of the recent efforts by the West to bring outlier states to abide by the rules of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), undermines the efforts for the universalisation of a rules-based nuclear non-proliferation regime.

It is staggering to think that the very same country that forsook all nuclear cooperation some 45 years earlier with India after the latter diverted nuclear fuel from Canadian reactors, supplied for ‘peaceful, civilian’ use, to conduct a nuclear weapons test would now actively sign a 5-year deal that can only further exacerbate the South Asian security dilemma. The deal brushes aside the entire controversy of the Indian episode of proliferation of nuclear fuel for conducting a nuclear test. At the very least, it is not a story any of the major powers are ready to lend an ear to anymore, busy as they are cashing in on the growing market economy of India. Paul Meyer, Canada’s former permanent representative to the Geneva Disarmament Conference expressed his fears in this regard saying that, “All of this flows from decisions where we essentially sold the shop some years back, sacrificing our nuclear non-proliferation principles and objectives for some other considerations, and I think it’s been a very poor deal for us in terms of the risks of nuclear proliferation.”………

Australia despite being a NNWS of NPT that held out for so long against such a deal has in the end, given in for economic benefits over moral ground.
India has made it a point in these deals, to convince its nuclear partners to forgo the provision of tracking the nuclear fuel end bound for India, especially from Australia and the US. Such a commitment is not only a violation of the NPT, to which all these states except India are a party, but also raises serious non-proliferation related challenges. It essentially demonstrates how India would be free to divert the nuclear fuel supplied for civil nuclear energy production for weapons with no check……..

April 25, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) parties meet

NPT parties meet to review nuclear progress and challenges, The Interpreter, 23 April 2015 Every five years, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) parties meet to review progress in limiting nuclear weapons proliferation, reducing the threat of nuclear arms and facilitating the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The current review cycle culminates in the ninth NPT Review Conference in New York starting next Monday, 27 April, to 22 May. Only five countries will not be involved: India, Israel, Pakistan, North Kore and South Sudan. The first three are ‘hold-out’ states which have never joined the NPT, North Korea purports to have left it and South Sudan is yet to join.

What should be an opportunity for further strengthening the Treaty is likely again to be dominated by recriminations. The Iranian nuclear deal helps, but the failure to convene the promised conference on a WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East will feed resentments. And the five NPT nuclear weapon states will face growing unhappiness over their disarmament efforts.

But recriminations should give way to renewed efforts to address mounting challenges: Continue reading

April 25, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AUDIO: Wind power subsidising New South Wales farmers

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: Farmers use wind farm rent to pay on-farm costs ABC NSW Country Hour 24 Apr 15
Joshua Becker 
Farmers in south-east New South Wales are using wind farm rent to subsidise on-farm costs.  AUDIO: Farmer uses rent from wind farm to pay for on weed management (ABC Rural)


Howard Charles is one of 17 farmers who have wind turbines from the Boco Rock Wind Farm on their properties west of Nimmitabel in south-east NSW.

He said money from hosting wind farms on his property had helped him tackle noxious weeds on his property.

“With the two towers on our farm the extra income from the rent certainly helps with controlling the weeds, which is a never ending problem, serrated tussock in particular,” he said.

“I don’t see any downside, we are the closest house to the wind farm, some of the towers are less than a kilometre from here, even with prevailing winds we don’t hear it, I don’t see it. I do wonder what all the fuss is about sometimes.

“They’re certainly not interfering with our agriculture at all and I think we’re going to wake up down the track to the fact that renewable energy is pretty important.

“The most telling comment I’ve had about this [wind farm] is – ‘thank God we’re not the Hunter Valley’…….

April 25, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, wind | Leave a comment

Nuclear power a low carbon energy source? that’s a myth

When it comes to nuclear power, the industry wants you to think of electricity generation in isolation 

Every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle—mining, milling, shipping, processing, power generation, waste disposal and storage—releases greenhouse gases,

global warming A

Why Do People Claim that Nuclear Power is a Low-Carbon Source of Energy?, Washington’s Blog 

Even well-known, well-intentioned scientists sometimes push bad ideas.  ……..

some scientists are under the mistaken impression that nuclear power is virtually carbon-free, and thus must be pushed to prevent runaway global warming. (If you don’t believe in global warming, then this essay is not aimed at you … although you might wish to forward it to those who do.)

But this is a myth. Amory Lovins is perhaps America’s top expert on energy, and a dedicated environmentalist for close to 50 years.  His credentials as an energy expert and environmentalist are sterling…….

Lovins says nuclear is not the answer:

Nuclear plants are so slow and costly to build that they reduce and retard  climate protection.

Here’s how. Each dollar spent on a new reactor buys about 2-10 times less carbon savings, 20-40 times slower, than spending that dollar on the cheaper, faster, safer solutions that make nuclear power unnecessary and uneconomic: Continue reading

April 25, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian tax-payers funding shonky climate economics with $4m Bjørn Lomborg centre

 So is this “methodology” the Abbott Government has spent $4million on any good?……

while cost-benefit analysis can be useful, it doesn’t work when you apply it to climate change policy.

How do you price, for example, the loss of a Pacific island nation and what that would mean for the cultures that have thrived there? What’s the price losing multiple species of flora and fauna or the Great Barrier Reef Jotzo adds:

Climate change is exceptional because it has all of these dimensions that go beyond the practical capability of cost benefit analysis.

text-my-money-2Australian taxpayers funding climate contrarian’s methods with $4m Bjørn Lomborg centre Graham Readfearn, Guardian 23 Apr 15   Lomborg’s think tank methods underplay the impact of climate change and have ‘no academic credibility’ says leading climate economist. Danish political scientist and climate change contrarian Bjørn Lomborg says the poorest countries in the world need coal and climate change just isn’t as big a problem as some people make out.

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott says “coal is good for humanity” and there are more pressing problems in the world than climate change, which he once described as “crap” but now says he accepts.

So it’s not surprising then that the latter should furnish the former with $4 million of taxpayer funds to start an Australian arm of Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre (CCC) at the University of Western Australia’s business school.

The CCC has consistently said that targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions are too expensive and money should be spent elsewhere

After a couple of weeks of doubt and confusion over the origins and the funding of the centre, latest reports suggest that the idea came from the Prime Minister’s office.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told Fairfax media it was “the government’s decision to bring the Lomborg consensus methodology to Australia”.

More on this “methodology” and some pretty fundamental problems with it in a bit.

Students at UWA are gathering names on a petition and campaigning in protest, saying Lomborg’s appointment as an adjunct (unpaid) professor there damages the university’s reputation and is an embarrassment. The University’s Student Guild claimed that “students, staff and alumni” were outraged. Continue reading

April 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

“Australia now holds the fate of the world’s climate in its hands”.

The government has indicated it will take a ‘technology neutral’ approach, which explains why Australia is the only nation in the world to axe the (carbon) tax, and efforts to slash the Renewable Energy Target by more than half.

Last year, the federal government approved the world’s largest coal fields in Queensland’s Galilee Basin – resources which the Climate Council reports “can not be developed” because they are “inconsistent with tackling climate change”.

Collectively, the proposed mines would create more emissions than nations like Australia, the UK, Italy and South Africa.

Why The Fate Of The World’s Climate Is Largely In Australia’s Hands, New Matilda,  By Abbott-fiddling-global-warmThom Mitchell, 23 Apr  We’re told Australia’s contribution to global warning is minimal. A report out today proves that’s a dangerous lie. Thom Mitchell explains.

As American academic Bob Massey put it, “Australia now holds the fate of the world’s climate in its hands”.

In its pursuit of a solution to the ‘budget emergency’ Australia is using up the ‘carbon budget’ at a rate incompatible with the global goal of limiting temperature rises to below two degrees, a Climate Council report out today has demonstrated.

While Australia is under increasing pressure to announce an ambitious target to limit emissions at home, the report makes clear that it is our reliance on fossil fuel exports that is doing the real damage.

By actively seeking to prolong the dying revenue stream, which has buoyed the economy through the past decade, the Australian government is doing massive damage to the remaining ‘carbon budget’.

At a recent talk in Sydney, Massey was blunt. “If your government and mining companies decide to develop all of the coal and gas currently planned, already on the books, our children will be forced to endure a world very different from what we know,” he said.

To avoid such a world, scientists have developed the ‘carbon budget’ which, put simply, is the amount of carbon dioxide humans can emit into the atmosphere before temperature rises reach two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

On that basis, if all of Australia’s coal were burnt, it would use up two thirds of the ‘carbon budget’. Effectively, 90 per cent of the continent’s coal must stay in the ground. Continue reading

April 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Climate change damage makes compelling economic argument for renewable Energy

environment-renewable-Australiaeven without any damage from climate change itself, the argument of moving to renewables (given the position of the rest of the world) makes good economic sense. When you add the risk of damage from climate change the case is unassailable.

Why would a nation like India waste money on taking poles and wires to every remote village and spending billions on coal power stations and metering when solar panels make more sense? They do not provide power continuously, but they are so much cheaper.

We should invest in renewable energy SMH, April 24, 2015  Crispin Hull  “……..storms like the ones this week – which scientists say will become more frequent with global warming – should give cause for reflection. The extent and cost of the potential damage is so high that prudence demands action.

But there is another more significant point. Governments can fix most things, but they will not be able to fix climate change. They will not be able to refreeze the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and make the rising seas fall – a bit like King Canute. The damage will be irreversible for thousands or even millions of years.

But governments can force changes to stop the melt in the first place.

There are several reasons why people see no need for any action at all or no need for urgency. We have always had bad weather events.

Change is imperceptible. The science is not conclusive so we can wait before taking action. Damage is a long time off.

If we see real evidence of climate change we can act then to fix it. Australia is just one nation and can do little on its own.

Because so many people think like this, governments have been able to get away with doing so little. Continue reading

April 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy | Leave a comment

Bjorn Lomborg’s climate contrarianism: where his money comes from

dollar 2

many of the earlier donors to Lomborg’s US think tank have been linked to theAbbott-Koch-policies conservative side of politics, some with links to the billionaire Koch brothers.

There’s nothing “smart” about spending $4 million of taxpayer cash on a highly questionable methodology that by design downgrades climate change.

Australian taxpayers funding climate contrarian’s methods with $4m Bjørn Lomborg centre Graham Readfearn, Guardian 23 Apr 15  Lomborg’s funding“………Exactly how and where Bjorn Lomborg’s think tank has gathered its cash over the years has been a tough story to get the bottom of.

When the Danish Government’s funding of the CCC ran out in 2012, Lomborg had already registered the US arm of the think tank four years earlier.

Since 2008, the US tax records of the Copenhagen Consensus Center show it has gathered about $5million in income, more than half of which had come in 2012 and 2013 (the most recent years for which records are available).

Lomborg himself was paid $975,000 via the think tank in those two years.

Yet much of the think tank’s income is not disclosed Continue reading

April 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

1919 – ANZAC Sermon – To Right the Wrongs

Library of Victoria
1919 –  ANZAC Sermon – To Right the Wrongs …
H.M.T. Orsova, nearing Suez, 28th April 1919
Vida Goldstein:

‘The Anzac sermon was preached by an army chaplain;

it was a glorification of the Australians, with some humorous sidelights.

It had none of the dignity and impressiveness that one would have thought the occasion demanded,

and offered no comfort to those present who had lost relatives at Gallipoli and on other battlefields.

He denied absolutely the oft-repeated statement that the Australian soldiers were undisciplined.

They were splendidly disciplined, he said, but their disciplined conduct had no trace of servility.

He spoke feelingly of the social conditions that had killed soldiers before they entered the trenches.

The evidence in the trenches of the terrible results of those social conditions

had roused many men to the sense of their duty to their fellows,

and made them resolve that when they returned to civil life they would

do all in their power to right the wrongs under which their comrades had lived.’

Woman Voter 7 August 1919 State Library of Victoria

First World War Women working for peace 1914-1919

“History is not dead and gone, it lives on in us in the way it shapes our thought, especially our thought about what is possible.”
Daphne Marlatt 2001

April 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

This week’s Australian nuclear news.

a-cat-CANANZAC Day It’s a pity that this 100 year commemoration of the soldiers of Gallipoli has turned out to be, in some areas, more of a party, and an opportunity for jingoism.  Still, I visited a small country library, and was impressed with the tasteful and respectful way that the community had acknowledged this day. So I think that for most people, respect, and the desire for a peaceful world, are uppermost in their thoughts .   I felt  a bit sorry for Woolworths – they got into trouble for commercialising ANZAC Day – when heaps of others were doing the same – and all had been encouraged by the government.

Amongst all the ANZAC fuss, a small exhibition in Melbourne and online should not be missed.  FIRST WORLD WAR WOMEN working for peace 1914 – 1919. Primary sources remind us of the strength and influence of the anti war movement 100 years ago.

South Australia’s Nuclear Royal Commission. Quite  a secretive affair really. We don’t know who are the Commissioners, except for their pro nuclear chief Kevin Scarce. Only one (very narrowly defined) Issues Paper is available, yet Scarce (and we don’t know who else) are visiting country towns for “informed discussion”.  Only 35 people turned up at Mt Gambier. The S.A. govt is keeping it as a State matter, (not National). But when it comes to advice and help – well, that’s coming Internationally, from Canada’s corrupt nuclear industry, and the very troubled EPR nuclear technology of France’s near-bankrupt nuclear industry.

Climate. Tony Abbott – having gone allout to shut down reputable climate science, offered University of Western Australia funding for a climate think-tank – headed by Bjorn Lomborg, who advocates no action on climate change. The international nuclear lobby was delighted – they see nuclear taking over – much later, from coal.   Australia’s crumbling international reputation – questions on climate policy

Uranium. Rio Tinto and ERA passing the buck to each other on who pays for Ranger uranium clean-up

Aboriginal issues. Australia breaches international law in evicting remote Aboriginal communities

Solar power. In Nyngan in New South Wales Australia’s largest solar project is completed.

Australia’s Anti – nuclear fight goes to Canada to  World Uranium Symposium. Australian government aims to shut down critics of its environmental policies.


April 24, 2015 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Hear This Podcast: Tilman Ruff on “Stumbling in the Dark”

Hear-This-way  “Since nuclear weapons entered our world, everything has changed, whether we like it or not, ready or not.” – Tilman Ruff

In this beautifully sad and compelling essay ‘Stumbling in the Dark, Reaching for the Light,’ which is written and read by Tilman Ruff, we hear about the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, which is our greatest existential challenge of all time. Weaved throughout a dark and emotive soundscape, Ruff tells us how our basic and most fundamental human rights are at risk while roughly 16,000 nuclear weapons still exist in the world.


April 24, 2015 Posted by | Audiovisual | Leave a comment

Pro nuclear vested interests predominate in submissions to Nuclear Royal Commission

scrutiny-Royal-CommissionDennis Matthews 24 Apr 15 In 2011 The Chief Executive, Prof. Stephen Martin, of the influential Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) wrote in an article on nuclear power calling for “a rational debate, not one based on vested interests” (The Australian, 10/11/11).

Less than four years later, at least 14 of the submissions to the draft terms of reference for the inquiry into the nuclear industry are from individuals, companies or organisations with a clear vested interest in the nuclear industry.

The SA Government and the inquiry commissioner have constantly assured us that the inquiry will be objective and rational.

This raises the question “why have so many pro-nuclear vested interests felt emboldened to try to influence the inquiry’s terms of reference?”

This is a question that only the SA Government can answer.

In the meantime, for an objective, rational debate it is incumbent on the commissioner to either ignore or heavily discount the views of vested interests.

April 24, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Royal Commission | Leave a comment


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