Labor pushes for more mining in South Australian nuclear weapons test range Australian Mining, 16 April, 2014 Ben Hagemann Labor has renewed calls to allow more in the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA), urging the Coalition to pass a bill that will facilitate easier access.
Earlier this month a bipartisan committee recommended that the Senate should not support Labor’s WPA amendment bill, raising doubts about access arrangements……..
Mining is currently allowed in the Woomera Protected Area, however the applications process is difficult, and mining companies have been easily rejected on grounds of national security, as was the case in 2009 when a Chinese investor was rejected on those grounds……. The WPA is a military testing range used by Australia and its allies for long range and experimental weapons, and is notorious as the site of nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War.
The site is 450 kilometres from Adelaide with an area of 124,000 square kilometres. …..http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/labor-pushes-for-more-mining-in-south-australian-n
Greens senator Scott Ludlam says global warming will kill and Australia will cook http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/greens-senator-scott-ludlam-says-global-warming-will-kill-and-australia-will-cook/story-fnkerdda-1226887324936 APRIL 17, 2014
AUSTRALIA is going to cook and people will die through global warming, West Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam says.
Senator Ludlam said Australia needed to stop giving climate sceptics airtime and just get on with the job of responding to climate change.
He said the weather had become a political actor.
“We are swinging back into an El Niño cycle, this country is going to cook and people are going to die. It will be, I think, much harder to sustain the argument that nothing unusual is going on,” he said.
Senator Ludlam rejected suggestions that he was being alarmist or extremist.
“We are in steep trouble here. I don’t think I am being an extremists in just stating the bleeding obvious. The weather is turning violent on us because we have left this for decades,” he said.
Senator Ludlam, re-elected with an increased vote in a re-run of the West Australian senate election, said the solution, renewable energy, was available, but that Prime Minister Tony Abbott was trying to decapitate the industry.
“That’s why people are responding to the sense of urgency that the Greens bring to the table,” he said.
Hunt commits to ‘cleaner’ coal, as renewables despair deepens, REneweconomy, Giles Parkinson on 16 April 2014 Australian environment minister Greg Hunt, the man most likely to be sympathetic to renewable energy in the current conservative Coalition government, has effectively thrown his lot in with the coal industry. In an interview with the Murdoch-controlled Sky News, Hunt said coal would be a fundamental part of the energy mix for decades and decades, and added algae and coal drying technologies would be the focus of the government’s emissions reduction efforts. Not so much “clean coal” as “cleaner coal”. He also said nuclear energy could provide “relatively low-cost, low emissions or zero emissions energy”, although he said it would not occur in Australia without bipartisan support.
The comments from Hunt – once considered a relative moderate in a hard right conservative Coalition government – came as the renewable energy industry reports that large-scale developments are at a standstill, with no new projects committed in Australia during the first quarter of 2014, despite the need for some 8,000MW of new capacity by 2020 to meet the renewable energy target as it now stands.
The industry is increasingly pessimistic about its prospects. Insiders say recent meetings with various ministers and advisors have increased the gloom, with promises only made that projects already built would not be affected by any changes.
Hunt, when pressed on the issue in the Sky interview, said only that the government would be able to offer the renewables industry “certainty” – which could, of course, mean that the target will be less, with no further review for another four years……..
No mention of renewables – or a carbon price – despite new data (quietly) released by Hunt’s department on Tuesday showing that electricity emissions fell 5 per cent in the last calendar year – a fall no doubt due to the combined impacts of the carbon price, renewable energy and falling demand. Continue reading
Dennis Matthews, 17 April 14 Given that both the ALP’s and the LP’s political agenda are tied to economic growth above all else then it is easy to understand why they would not support the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Every time that there has been a reduction in nuclear weapons stockpiles the price of uranium has gone down due to the increased supply of uranium in the form of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from nuclear weapons. Flooding the market with uranium means less income for uranium mining companies.
At the moment we are seeing the other side of the supply-demand uranium market equation. Rather than increased supply we are seeing a Fukushima driven decreased demand. The end result is the same, a decrease in the spot price ahead of a decreased contract price for uranium.
After Chernobyl in 1986 ( I was in Switzerland at the time) I came to the conclusion that the probability of a nuclear reactor disaster was primarily a matter of reactor hours. The more hours of nuclear reactor operation in a country the greater the chance of another Three Mile Island or Chernobyl. On this basis I concluded that the next major disaster would occur in either France or Japan.
I still consider that nuclear hours (including processing and enrichment of uranium and plutonium) is a major determinant of nuclear disaster probability. France is still a prime suspect but it is being joined by China where nuclear, along with all other forms of electricity generation, is expanding. Despite the slowness of this expansion, the magnitude of the demand for electricity means that Chinese nuclear hours may soon overtake that of most other countries.
Radiation study on evacuation zones kept undisclosed for 6 months http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/140416/radiation-study-evacuation-zones-kept-undisclosed-6-mo The government kept undisclosed for six months a report on an individual radiation dose study in areas around the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, including a district recently released from an evacuation order.
The study, covering the city of Tamura and the villages of Kawauchi and Iitate, showed that the radiation level in many areas is still beyond 1 millisievert per year — a level the government is seeking to achieve at contaminated lands in the long term.
The government lifted an evacuation order imposed on the Miyakoji district in Tamura on April 1, but the content of the interim report, compiled in October, was not conveyed to the citizens or the local governments before the action was taken.
The government explained the content to local governments later, while the report was posted on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Monday. It also plans to release a final report on Friday. A government team tasked with supporting people affected by the crisis said it did not initially plan to release the interim report but decided to make it public because of the “high attention among residents.”
The team decided to conduct the radiation level study at 43 points in Tamura, Kawauchi and Iitate last July, hoping to address concerns among evacuees seeking to return to their homes.
The study showed that radiation levels measured by individual dosimeters tend to be about 70 percent of those estimated from air dose. Twenty-seven points were also found to be above 1 millisievert per year.
The outcome has raised concerns among the residents that have already returned to their homes.
A 65-year-old man living at his home in the Miyakoji district said, “It was premature to lift the evacuation order. We’ve been deceived.”
The 20-kilometer radius of the Fukushima plant and some areas beyond have been subject to evacuation orders in the wake of the nuclear crisis that began in March 2011.
The Miyakoji district became the first area excluded from the 20-km zone following decontamination and infrastructure restoration efforts.
Campaign to retain renewable energy target http://www.latrobevalleyexpress.com.au/story/2224396/campaign-to-retain-renewable-energy-target/?cs=1462 April 17, 2014, Friends of the Earth representatives and members of the community came together in Morwell yesterday as part of a campaign to retain the renewable energy target.
FOTE recently kicked off its renewable energy target road trip, where they will visit 11 regions either currently using renewable energy or those they believe could transition from traditional fuels like coal.
Campaigns coordinator Cam Walker said the group feared the Federal Government could use a review into the target, to “gut” it.
“If they gut the RET, that removes all certainty for investors in the realm of renewables,” Mr Walker said.
“We want to see a refocusing of public funds away from fossil fuels and into renewables and it has to include some really substantial investment in the Valley.
“There’s a well-trained workforce in the Valley that could be transitioned.”
The current renewable energy target is 20 per cent by the year 2020.
US Plans New $4 Billion Renewables Support Program http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4266 17 April 14 The USA’s Department of Energy (DoE) has issued a draft loan guarantee solicitation for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that could make as much as USD $4 billion in loan guarantees available.
“Through our existing renewable energy loan guarantees, the Department’s Loan Programs Office helped launch the U.S. utility-scale solar industry and other clean energy technologies that are now contributing to our clean energy portfolio,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “We want to replicate that success by focusing on technologies that are on the edge of commercial-scale deployment today.”
The five key technology areas of interest to the DoE are : advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy; enhancement of existing facilities and efficiency improvements.
The Department’s Loan Programs Office has been no slouch in supporting renewables and energy efficiency; with more than $30 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments supporting dozens of projects throughout the nation.
Among the beneficiary projects was the Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project, an 845 MW wind farm located in eastern Oregon. The Department of Energy provided a $1.3 billion partial loan guarantee that was crucial to the project’s success. Another project to benefit was the Agua Caliente Solar project, a 290-megawatt solar panel based power station Yuma County, Arizona. The Department of Energy provided a USD $967 million loan guarantee for this project.
Before the latest program is rolled out, the Department is inviting public comment; which will be considered in defining the scope of the final solicitation. The draft solicitation can be viewed here.
The DoE’s Loan Programs enables the body to work with private companies and financiers to mitigate the financing risks associated with clean energy projects, “and thereby encourage their development on a broader and much-needed scale.”
QLD Government Has ‘No Credibility’ On Power Price Promises http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4265 Queensland Shadow Treasurer and Energy Spokesman Curtis Pitt has taken aim at the Newman Government’s latest promises concerning electricity prices in the state.
Energy Minister Mark McArdle yesterday announced changes he claims will save electricity distributors $2 billion dollars.
“No-one will forget Campbell Newman’s pledge during the 2012 election campaign to lower electricity prices by $120 per year, and then driving average prices up by $460 over two years,” Mr Pitt said.
Mr Pitt also criticised Minister McArdle’s move to abolish the mandatory 8c solar feed-in tariff; leaving households with solar power systems to negotiate directly with electricity retailers for a rate on their exported power. Mr. Pitt says the Minister has admitted this would save the princely sum of less than $1 a month on the average Queensland’s household’s electricity bill.
Reacting also to comments from Minister McArdle in the Courier Mail, Mr. Pitt seized on the Minister’s admission that green energy is not the major driver of electricity price rises in the state.
“Finally the LNP has admitted that the biggest contributor to electricity price rises is the network charges they oversee as the Government,” he said.
“As the independent Queensland Competition Authority figures show if only the carbon tax and environmental policies were a factor prices rises this year would be just 3% on average not a record 22.6%.”
It’s an interesting side-point that a major beneficiary of power price rises in Queensland is the State Government. Analysis carried out last year indicates electricity price increases have delivered a compounding 114% growth in financial returns to the State Government annually.
No doubt many Queenslanders are still considering installing solar given the ongoing financial pain at the power point. Even with the proposed changes to feed in tariffs, solar remains a solid investment. However, the future of subsidies under Australia’s Renewable Energy Target – which can take thousands off the cost of a system – are also in doubt. That being the case, the best time to go solar may be right now.
Morwell community group wants coal money be used for mine fire recovery ABC Radio A.M.
Samantha Donovan reported this story on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 CHRIS UHLMANN: Residents of the east Victorian town of Morwell are urging the Federal and State Governments to redirect millions of dollars earmarked for new brown coal projects in the area to cleaning up their town after the Hazelwood mine fire.
The fire, which started in February, choked the town with smoke and ash for weeks and drove hundreds of people from their homes and businesses and the locals say government funding should be used to help them and not the coal industry.
Samantha Donovan reports….. http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2014/s3986525.htm
International Renewable Energy Agency ‘s new report will show up Australia’s blindness to renewable energy investment future
Hunt commits to ‘cleaner’ coal, as renewables despair deepens, REneweconomy, Giles Parkinson on 16 April 2014“……While Australia seems destined to go backwards on renewables, the rest of the world is looking to accelerate. The IPCC report, released on Sunday, said the world needed to increase the amount of renewable energy generation three of four fold, and pointed out that this, plus other measures, would come at little additional cost. The International Renewable Energy Agency overnight said renewable energy and energy efficiency provided the most affordable and technologically mature path to bring about the necessary change. Itforeshadowed last year that renewables could provide this abatement at little or no additional cost. “The accelerated deployment of renewable energy significantly reduces energy-related carbon dioxide emissions at a reasonable cost, and also provides other benefits, including enhanced energy security, more local jobs and value-creation, and a cleaner and healthier environment,” Adnan Amin, IRENA’s Director-General, said in a statement. IRENA’s forthcoming report, Remap 2030, says a quadrupling of the share of renewable energy sources by 2030, will cut annual global energy related emissions by 8.6 gigatonnes, while energy efficiency could save an additional 7.3GT – lowering the forecast level of 41GT on business as usual down to 25.5GT. “Renewable energy has entered into a virtuous circle of falling costs, increased deployment and accelerated technological progress,” Amin said. This is a view shared now by most of the world’s investment banks. Citigroup recently pointed to the“age of renewables” and Sanford Bernstein pointed out that solar will beat oil and gas, and ultimately coal, because it is “cheap, clean, convenient, and reliable” … and “will get cheaper.” The IPCC report was also welcomed by the US, which said it offered a huge opportunity to invest in clean technologies and accelerate emissions reductions program, and in Europe, where renewable deployment continues and the EU is considering higher emissions targets…….. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/hunt-commits-to-cleaner-coal-as-renewables-despair-deepens-75839
The Murdoch press, and all the business pages are jubilant : – Australian uranium to be sold to the United Arab EmiratesAustralian Mining , 16 April 14 - “Australia’s uranium sector will receive a much needed boost with the United Arab Emirates signing a deal that will see it purchase yellow cake produced here. Trade Minister Andrew Robb met with UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah in Abu Dhabi to sign …”
Has Australia no pride? No understanding of the consequences of its pathetic drive to resurrect the flagging uranium industry. Will Australia go to any country to try and make a few bucks ? We will sell uranium to India,- non signatory to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, to Russia, notorious for its poor monitoring of where uranium and its wastes go.
Now we’re supposed to rejoice that Australia might sell to United Arab Emirates – never mind if that triggers off a Middle East nuclear arms race.
At the same time, the Australian government and Australian generally seem oblivious to the mess that uranium mining has made in Kakadu. I mean – it’s only home to traditional Aborigines, an ecological paradise (or it was) a top Australian tourism attraction. Having messeed it up environmentally, and messed up financially too, ERA plans to start a new uranium minng venture there – even though they’re too broke to clean up the mess.
In lead up to Rio Tinto’s Australian AGM (May 8) signs that Rio will not pay up for fixing up Ranger uranium mine
Rio chief tight-lipped on Ranger mine, SMH April 16, 2014 - Peter Ker Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh has refused to guarantee that his company will cover the cost of rehabilitating the Ranger uranium mine near Kakadu, building on uncertainty that was created last month by the Rio subsidiary in charge of the mine.
Energy Resources of Australia – which is 68 per cent owned by Rio – raised eyebrows when it revealed it may need to find new sources of money to meet its rehabilitation commitments for Ranger, which is entirely surrounded by Kakadu National Park.
Under the Ranger permit, ERA must have rehabilitated the site by 2026, and a review of the rehabilitation strategy in 2013 found the cost would be $603 million on a net present cost basis. ERA has $357 million on hand and has ceased mining at Ranger, with the company now exploring for more uranium underground in a bid to find future revenue streams.
In an unusual move, ERA appeared to link the success of that exploration project – known as Ranger 3 Deeps – to its ability to pay for the rehabilitation of the site. “If the Ranger 3 Deeps mine is not developed, in the absence of any other successful development, ERA may require an additional source of funding to fully fund the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area,” the company said in its annual report.Such an outcome would be unusual, as miners are typically compelled to pay for the rehabilitation at the end of a mine’s life through provisions that are made each year.
In ERA’s case, some rehabilitation is already underway and it maintains a trust with the Australian Government which was holding $63.9 million at December 31.
When asked at Tuesday night’s annual meeting of Rio shareholders in London, Mr Walsh indicated he was in no mood to pick up the tab for ERA, particularly after Rio took part in a $500 million equity raising for the company in 2011. “There was a rights issue at ERA to fund the rehabilitation work and those funds are still sitting within that business,” said Mr Walsh.
”(ERA) is a public Australian company and clearly that is an issue for them.
“We are clearly shareholders, but it’s a matter for all shareholders and a matter for the ERA board.”
Environmental sensitivities of another kind were also raised at the AGM, with Rio executives forced to defend the company’s continued involvement in coal mining.
Mr Walsh said Rio did accept that “man made emissions” were responsible for changes in the climate, but the company believed the challenge could be resolved through technological developments rather than by ceasing coal production………
Rio’s Australian AGM will take place on May 8. http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/rio-chief-tightlipped-on-ranger-mine-20140416-36qfi.htmlSMH
The risks of a nuclear Saudi Arabia April 7, 2014 by Nick Butler”……….The issue is set out in an excellent new paper for the Belfer Center at Harvard by Olli Heinonen and Simon Henderson. The Saudis’ explanation of their newfound interest in nuclear technology is that they want to use it to produce electric power and to converse oil supplies which can be exported. There is a core of truth in this of course – Saudi Arabia’s domestic oil consumption is rising inexorably and is now more than 3m barrels a day. But, of course, this is exactly the argument used by Iran for its own nuclear research.
Heinonen and Henderson believe the Saudis are preparing the way and giving themselves the option of being able to move beyond civil nuclear power to the point where they could within a matter of months produce some form of weapon. The country undoubtedly has the money to buy whatever is needed and they have close and dangerous allies within Pakistan, a country which is already a nuclear state. Scrutiny by the International Atomic Energy Agency is minimal (bizarrely the organisation spends more money monitoring Jordan) and the Saudis could go a long way down the path to nuclear capability without it becoming obvious until very late in the day.
The prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of the fragile government of Saudi Arabia is bad enough. The country is fundamentally unstable – held together only by force and by the flow of oil money to an ever growing number of citizens who high expectations and low productivity. But equally concerning is that any further conflict in the region – even at a level below the nuclear threshold – could shake the global energy economy to its foundations……..” http://blogs.ft.com/nick-butler/2014/04/07/the-risks-of-a-nuclear-saudi-arabia/
FN Arena reports (15 April 14) “……The recovery will not, however, be long lasting under CIMB’s modelling. Despite recent voluntary cuts to supply, including Paladin Energy’s Kayelekeera mine in Malawi being placed into care & maintenance, and despite the end of the Russian HEU supply agreement, CIMB sees the global uranium market drifting back in to surplus by 2016. …
In the meantime, UBS is the most recent of brokers to mark uranium prices to market for the purpose of producer valuations. The broker has cut its 2014 average price forecast to US$39/lb from US$43/lb previously. …”
Australia Remains Silent Amid Global Warming And Calls For Renewable Energy Use http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/548241/20140415/australia-global-warning-climate-change-tony-abbott.htm By Reissa Su | April 15, 2014
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is known as a World Heritage site and the worsening effects of climate change have sparked fears that it would soon be destroyed and die. Recent scientific studies have shown a significant loss of coral cover in the past 27 years. The damage to corals is caused by climate change, storms and the increasing population of crown of thorns starfish. Reducing the number of the starfish species is the key factor to restore coral cover based on research studies.
Despite the mounting fears, climate scientists observed Australia may not be fully committed to battle out climate change. According to reports, Australia is one of the biggest and most active “climate change deniers” in the world. While the United Nations‘ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is encouraging countries to do their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Australia is focusing on coal which is considered the biggest contributor to the ozone’s destruction.
The IPCC has found global carbon emissions have increased faster between 2000 and 2010 compared to the past 30 years. The IPCC said attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions continue to fail.
According to Dr. Frank Jotzo from the Australian National University, Australia has to quadruple low carbon energy use in 2050 or risk the consequences of climate change to agriculture, coastal areas and tourism.
The rise in global temperature would mean the potential widespread and permanent damage to Australia’s coral reef systems, specifically the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo in Western Australia.
Some species native to Australia may disappear. The continued rise in global temperature could increase the frequency of flooding which will cause damage to infrastructure. Some low-lying areas may be swallowed by rising sea levels. Extreme weather conditions may affect the quality of Australia’s drinking water.
Worsening dry spells, fiercer heat waves and frequent bushfire seasons should be worrying for Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Coalition government after CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology released the State of the Climate report.
The two-year study has prompted calls for curbing carbon emissions from human activities. Greenhouse emissions are already at record levels. Climate scientists predict that the world will be 5 degrees hotter by 2070.
But the Abbott government has not accepted the Climate Change Authority (CCA)’s recommendation for Australia to triple its carbon emissions reduction target. The climate agency said Australia should be aiming for at least 15 percent by 2020. The target rate will increase to 19 percent once the carryover credits that have been previously set in the Kyoto Protocol are included. To contact the editor, e-mail: email@example.com