Australian news, and some related international items

Sir George Brandis, Defender of the Fossil Fuel Faith

Hear-This-wayGreens hit back at Brandis’ comments on climate change, ABC Radio Saturday AM 19 April 14 Will Ockenden reported this story on Saturday, April 19, 2014 ASHLEY HALL: The Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, says people who say the science is settled on climate change are ignorant and medieval.

In an article published in the online political magazine Spiked, Senator Brandis says he’s been shocked by the “sheer authoritarianism” of those who’ve excluded climate-change deniers from the debate.

The Greens have hit back, saying it’s a feudal way of thinking to say that everyone’s view of climate change is equally valid.


Will Ockenden spoke to acting leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt.

ADAM BANDT: This Abbott Government is using every trick in the book to hide the fact that they’re not taking the action that the science calls for on climate change. And to suggest that somehow people in this country are being restricted from airing albeit very wrong views on climate change is completely misleading. I mean, if someone said ‘two plus two equals five’, would you insist on giving them as much airtime in the media as someone who said ‘two plus two equals four’? That’s in effect what the country’s highest law officer is arguing, and it’s very worrying……..

ADAM BANDT: The science has been through one of the most rigorous peer-reviewed processes it can go through. And the answer that’s coming out from people right across the political spectrum, if you take your ideological goggles off for a moment, is that unless we act soon, the Australian way of life is under enormous threat from global warming.

WILL OCKENDEN: Should people be able to, though, nonetheless be able to say that climate change doesn’t exist?

ADAM BANDT: Well people are saying that, and they’re saying it at the moment and they’re wrong. The science community is now essentially speaking with one voice. 

To say someone without science training can somehow simply on a free speech basis say that they’re all wrong is a very feudal way of thinking….
ASHLEY HALL: The acting leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt, speaking to Will Ockenden. 
Saturday AM requested an interview with Senator George Brandis, but we haven’t heard back from him.

April 21, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Aboriginal science: their knowledge completely underestimated by white Australia

Aboriginal people – how to misunderstand their science, The Conversation, Ray Norris, 21 April 14 Just one generation ago Australian schoolkids were taught that Aboriginal people couldn’t count beyond five, wandered the desert scavenging for food, had no civilisation, couldn’t navigate and peacefully acquiesced when Western Civilisation rescued them in 1788.

How did we get it so wrong?

book-biggest-EstateAustralian historian Bill Gammage and others have shown that for many years land was carefully managed by Aboriginal people to maximise productivity. This resulted in fantastically fertile soils, now exploited and almost destroyed by intensive agriculture.

In some cases, Aboriginal people had sophisticated number systems, knew bush medicine, and navigated using stars and oral maps to support flourishing trade routes across the country.

They mounted fierce resistance to the British invaders, and sometimes won significant military victories such as the raids by Aboriginal warrior Pemulwuy. Only now are we starting to understand Aboriginal intellectual and scientific achievements.

The Yolngu people, in north eastern Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, long recognised how the tides are linked to the phases of the moon.

Back in the early 17th century, Italian scientistGalileo Galilei was still proclaiming, incorrectly, that the moon had nothing to do with tides.

Some Aboriginal people had figured out how eclipses work, and knew how the planets moved differently from the stars. They used this knowledge to regulate the cycles of travel from one place to another, maximising the availability of seasonal foods.

Why are we only finding this out now?………..

Still to learn

In recent years, it has become clear that traditional Aboriginal people knew a great deal about the sky, knew the cycles of movements of the stars and the complex motions of the sun, moon and planets………

kids studying science today could also learn much from the way that pre-contact Aboriginal people used observation to build a picture of the world around them.

This “ethno-science” is similar to modern science in many ways, but is couched in appropriate cultural terms, without expensive telescopes and particle accelerators.

So if you want to learn about the essence of how science works, how people learn to solve practical problems, the answer may be clearer in an Aboriginal community than in a high-tech laboratory.

April 21, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Coal industry pretends to have grassroots support

Australians for Coal sent supporters’ letters to environmental groups, Guardian, , 17 April 14 Pro-coal fanmail sent to protest groups as well as MPs, but small numbers bring into question claim of backing by ‘silent majority’ The mining industry’s Australians for Coal campaign has come under renewed fire for forwarding the protest letters of its supporters to environmental groups, amid scepticism over the level of support the drive has garnered.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) launched the Australians for Coal website on Monday, before a television advertisement campaign, in order to extol the economic benefits of coal. The MCA has said the “silent majority” of Australians support coal, as opposed to a small but vocal group of anti-coal activists.

The site urges supporters to email their local MPs with a template letter that calls upon them to support the mining industry, which is “under attack from activists and extremists”.

When users enter a postcode, the website attributes their letter to all MPs in their home state, rather than just their local MP.

But the letters are also forwarded to “anti-coal activists”, with the Australian Conservation Foundation and Friends of the Earth confirming receipt of 28 emails. It is understood Greenpeace and anti-coal group Quit Coal were also sent emails. The emails sent to the environmental groups display each supporter’s name, postcode and email address. The emails to the non-government organisations abruptly stopped on Monday.

“It’s a really bizarre strategy – I now have these people’s names, emails and postcodes,” said Cam Walker, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “From go to woe this has been a pretty sloppy campaign.”

Walker said the MCA’s campaign had been “soundly trounced” by a largely critical reaction on social media……Bandt, the deputy leader of the Greens, said: “One of the emails came from Dame Gina Rinehart, so I’m not sure of its authenticity.

“The coal barons are terrified and rightly so. Coal is the next asbestos or tobacco and big coal is trying to fight that. I’m pleased this campaign has galvanised people who want to phase out coal.

“If everyday Australians love coal so much, why have one million of them put solar panels on their roofs? People are voting with their feet.”………

The MCA didn’t respond to questions put to it by Guardian Australia.

April 19, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Australia to co-operate with United Arab Emirates in nuclear-related activities

exclamation-Australia hopes to lure Emirati students to its institutions while selling uranium to the UAE The National, Caline Malek
 April 17, 2014  ABU DHABI  Higher education and nuclear power are areas in which the UAE and Australia will start collaborating.
During a visit to the UAE this week by Andrew Robb, Australia’s trade and investment minister, an agreement was signed with Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak, the Minister for Higher Education. The countries will collaborate on vocational education, training and research cooperation in higher education……..

Mr Robb said the UAE was investing in infrastructure and restructuring its economy, creating opportunities in sectors where Australia had a proven track record.

He also met senior ministers to advocate for a resumption of negotiations for a free trade agreement with the GCC.

“I [used] my visit to set out the Australian government’s trade and investment agenda, to emphasise that Australia is open for business and that we are committed to deepening our economic engagement with the region,” he said.

Australia will also begin to export uranium to the UAE for its nuclear power plants.

The Nuclear Cooperation Agreement was signed in July 2012 but was ratified and came into force only on Monday. It could lead to the export to the UAE of up to 800 tonnes of uranium a year by the end of the decade. “The agreement should now pave the way for separate commercial agreements between potential Australian uranium suppliers and the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation,” said Mr Kang. “The [first exports] are subject to the timeline for the construction of the UAE’s nuclear power plants, but I understand the first of these plants is scheduled for completion in 2017.”

Under the agreement, Australia will supply uranium for use in the UAE’s developing civil nuclear power programme and cooperate in nuclear-related activities, such as safeguards, security, safety and science.

“The agreement has been secured because Australia is a reliable supplier of uranium and the UAE is a responsible user of nuclear energy for civilian purposes,” said Mr Robb, who met Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, this week in Abu Dhabi.

“This will open up a new long-term market for Australian uranium producers.”……….Sheikh Abdullah said the ratification of the agreement would offer more opportunities for collaboration between the Government and private sectors of both countries. He said this falls in line with the UAE’s policy of developing its peaceful nuclear energy programme in collaboration with other countries that shared the same commitment.

Hamad Alkaabi, the UAE’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the agreement constituted a governmental framework for cooperation in nuclear activities between both countries……..

April 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott has effectively stopped Australian large scale renewable energy

Abbott-destroyerAustralian large-scale renewable energy projects at standstill By  on 16 April 2014

It appears that the Abbott government – and its hard right sympathisers that want to bring a halt to large-scale renewable energy deployment in Australia – have achieved their policy goals, without even having to release a policy. New data shows that no new large-scale renewable energy projects – be they wind farms, solar farms or some other – have been committed in the first quarter of 2014. This follows a bleak calendar 2013 when just four large-scale projects were committed; none of them directly financed by the renewable energy target.

This is despite the fact that existing policy calls for 41,000GWh of renewable energy to be provided across Australia by 2020. However, the renewable energy industry, along with the utilities that must acquit their obligations, and the banks that would finance these projects, are convinced that the target will be severely reduced, if not dismantled.

This pessimism is reflected in the market for large-scale renewable energy certificates, which have slumped to $28.55, down 15 per cent from late December, and down nearly half from before the election of the Abbott government last September.

The pessimism has infected the industry since early 2013, when, despite the findings by the Climate Change Authority that the LRET should stay as is, the equivocation of the Coalition, and its presumed success in the September poll, brought the market to a halt.

According to data from Green Energy Trading – a major player in the market for renewable energy certificates, only four new projects have been “committed”  since the start of 2013. Of these, the 53MW Broken Hill and 102MW Nyngan solar power stations are mostly financed from the now defunct Solar Flagships project, with large grants from the federal and state governments; and the 20MW  Royalla solar plant in Canberra is getting a fixed tariff as part of the local government’s reverse auction program.

The only new wind farm approved in the last year – a 47MW extension to Pacific Hydro’s Portland projects – seems to have been committed because it received financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the $10 billion green bank that the Coalition wants to dismantle, despite it making a profitfor the government.

The only other new projects that are likely to be committed in the short-term are the other solar projects in the ACT, and the wind projects that will be awarded in its forthcoming auction. (It should be noted that committed projects are different to “approved” projects, which merely means they have approval to be built, but not necessarily the finance).

Those solar and wind projects, part of the ACT government’s commitment to a 90 per cent renewable energy target, do not rely on the LRET. However, the proposal for new wind farms is being vigorously opposed by conservative politicians, both state and federal, as well as the Murdoch press.

Green Energy Trading estimates that if the market for LRECS is to maintain an acceptable level of market liquidity, around 4,450 MW of new projects need to be committed in the three-year period from 2014 to 2016. That is unlikely to happen until the RET review is completed mid year, and then considered by the Abbott government.

However, if the incumbent electricity industry has its way, there will be no new projects built before 2017 at the least. This is its estimate of the impact of the LRET target being reduced to a “real” 20 per cent target, which might equate to a new fixed target of around 26,000GWh.

Numerous studies have shows that not only will this result in a sharp fall in the deployment of wind and solar, it will also mean more coal-fired generation. And a new study from French energy products giantSchneider Electric says cutting the renewables target will also mean higher prices for consumers. This came as a surprise to the large energy users that commissioned the Schneider analysis. They had anticipated the opposite finding.

Still, the renewable energy industry is finding doors closed in Canberra, with ministers and advisors promising only that projects already built will not be impacted by any changes to the RET, which will be recommended by a review headed by climate science sceptic and nuclear advocate Dick Warburton.

International groups such as First Solar and Acciona have already signalled their intention to re-assess their commitment to projects in Australia, in a likely repeat of the exodus that was caused when the current energy minister Ian Macfarlane ended the then MRET (mandatory renewable energy target) when he was last in the same job a decade ago – and that decision was taken despite an independent review recommending the MRET be expanded.


April 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Michael Denborough, medical researcher and anti nuclear activist

Life-saving researcher fought nuclear power April 18, 2014 SMH, David Denborough

Michael Denborough Medical researcher, activist 11-7-1929 — 8-2-2014

On the day of his death, Michael Denborough, Australian medical researcher, activist and founder of the Nuclear Disarmament Party, declared quietly to his loved ones: ”I’ve lived the luckiest life.”……..

There was another field in which Michael Denborough was influential – activism to prevent nuclear war. In 1970 he learned from a colleague, Roger Melick, that every time an atmospheric French nuclear test was conducted in the Pacific the levels of radioactive iodine in sheep’s thyroid glands across Australia would rise alarmingly. We were all being radiated by these tests.

Michael and Roger penned a letter to national newspapers notifying the public and so began the scientific and political protests which led to the International Court in the Hague forcing nuclear tests underground.In 1983, as acting director of the Centre for Research and Environmental Studies in Canberra, Michael convened a symposium, Consequences of Nuclear War for Australia and its Region. Its aim was to promote international nuclear disarmament. Patrick White and other distinguished speakers accepted his invitation. Physicians and scientists from Eastern and Western countries, including the USSR and the US, came to see what they could do to fix the greatest threat to world health.

In 1984, as a response to the Labor Government’s sell-out on its anti-nuclear platform, Michael Denborough and others founded the Nuclear Disarmament Party. It was a single-issue party with three policies – no uranium mining, no nuclear weapons and no US bases on Australian soil. The NDP was the political voice of a strong grass-roots social movement. People from all walks of life, and of all ages, came together to try to save the planet. Two NDP senators were elected, one in 1984 and one in 1987. The NDP continued to highlight nuclear issues in elections until 2009.

In 2003, Michael set up a lone vigil for 52 days outside Parliament House to protest what almost everybody admits now was going to be an unjust invasion of Iraq. On the day John Howard committed Australian troops Michael was thrown out of Parliament for protesting loudly from the gallery. He was 74 years old.

Michael will be remembered for his passionate opposition to war and the nuclear industry. Lives will continue to be saved as the result of his medical discoveries. ….


April 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, history | Leave a comment

Small scale solar energy triumphing globally, and especially in Australia

Australia-solar-plugSmall Scale Solar A Stand-Out Performer  Global investment in renewable energy jumped in the first quarter – and in Australia, it’s still citizens leading the revolution through rooftop solar power.

   According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), investment in clean energy around the world reached USD $47.7bn during the first 3 months of this year.
The stand-out sector was small scale solar power (less than 1MW systems); which skyrocketed by as much as 42%. Overall investment in solar (large and small) was up 23% at $27.5bn.
RenewEconomy, drawing on data from BNEF and Pew Charitable Trusts, states Australian households accounted for nearly two thirds of total investment in renewables in the nation in 2013 ($2.8 billion), and practically all of it so far this year.
RenewEconomy states more than 4,000 applications to install small systems are being a lodged a month in the south-east Queensland region managed by Energex. In South Australia and Western Australia, small scale system uptake is more than 2,500 a month, and in Victoria just below that level.
That uptake is so strong isn’t surprising. In addition to the lure of households being able to slash or even wipe out their power bills; there is an added sense of urgency given fears with regard to the future of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET). The RET provides support for the purchase of small-scale solar power systems; which can amount to thousands of dollars.
Another factor helping to drive uptake is the availability of innovative financing arrangements – such as zero dollar deposit payment plans. National provider Energy Matters’ Save As You Go initiative is structured in a way that in addition to the zero deposit; repayments are structured so many households will repay less per week than what they would spend on equivalent mains electricity supply.
According to Energy Matters, solar is still one the highest returning investmentsin Australia – outperforming shares, property, gold, global fixed interest or even fine art.

April 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, solar | Leave a comment

Held To Ransom: Rio Tinto’s radioactive legacy at Kakadu

kakadu The Mirarr Traditional Owners of Kakadu National Park have accused mining giant Rio Tinto of handsoff
holding the World Heritage area to ransom by revealing it will not guarantee the rehabilitation 
of the controversial Ranger uranium mine unless the company’s plans to expand operations at 
the site are approved. 

ERA, 68% majority owned by Rio, has revealed in its annual report that funding for 
rehabilitation, despite being legally required, is now likely contingent on securing approval for 
the proposed ‘Ranger 3 Deeps’ underground expansion of the mine. 
…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. (ERA Annual Report p.17) 
At its London AGM this week Rio Tinto boss Sam Walsh attempted to distance the parent 
company from Ranger’s rehabilitation, saying it was an issue for ERA. However, Mirarr 
Traditional Owners said the company has failed in its obligations despite profiting massively 
from mining the area for the past 30 years. 

“The attitude of Rio and ERA demonstrates little has changed in the more than three decades 
since Galarrwuy Yunupingu described talks over the Ranger mine as ‘like negotiating with a gun 
to my head’,” CEO of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation Justin O’Brien said. 
“The mining giants have made enormous profits at the expense of Mirarr traditional lands and 
are now holding the Word Heritage listed area to ransom.” 

This comes just months after the spill of 1.4 million litres of toxic slurry, while the mine is shut 
down and under investigation and while ERA develops its proposal for further mining at Ranger. 
“Rio Tinto is a tenant on Mirarr land. They come and they go. If a tenant told you they weren’t 
prepared to fix the damage they caused to your house unless you agreed to give them a longer 
term lease, you’d laugh them out of the building – what does this type of announcement say 
about these tenants?” asked Mr O’Brien. 

“It is inconceivably thoughtless and arrogant of any mining company to manage its corporate 
social responsibilities in this way and regrettably brings to mind the comment made by Mirarr 
Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula in 2003: ‘The promises never last, but the problems 
always do’”. 

For further information or comment: Justin O’Brien on 08 8979 2200 or 0427 008 765

April 17, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Australian Labor Party thinks it’s a good idea to mine in radioactively polluted nuclear test area

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. …..

April 17, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Senator Scott Ludlam issues a clear warning on the need to act on Climate Change

Ludlam,-Scott-1Greens senator Scott Ludlam says global warming will kill and Australia will cook 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.

April 17, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s Anti Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, goes for coal and nuclear, and against renewables

Parkinson-Report-Hunt commits to ‘cleaner’ coal, as renewables despair deepens, REneweconomy,  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.

However, the industry is convinced that this target will be diluted following the completion of the current RET review headed by climate change sceptic and pro-nuclear advocate Dick Warburton.

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

April 17, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

International Renewable Energy Agency ‘s new report will show up Australia’s blindness to renewable energy investment future

logo-IRENAHunt commits to ‘cleaner’ coal, as renewables despair deepens, REneweconomy,  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. solar-panels-and-moneyThis 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……..

April 17, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

In lead up to Rio Tinto’s Australian AGM (May 8) signs that Rio will not pay up for fixing up Ranger uranium mine

Ranger-uranium-mineRio 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. 

April 16, 2014 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

No real recovery in sight for dismal uranium prices

bull-uncertain-uraniumFN 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. …”

April 16, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | 1 Comment

Under the Abbott government, Australia is an active Climate Change Denier

Abbott-shhhhAustralia Remains Silent Amid Global Warming And Calls For Renewable Energy Use 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:

April 16, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment


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