Australian news, and some related international items

The Kakadu Charter led to stopping of uranium mining

kakaduThe 15th anniversary of the Kakadu Charter is a good time for Aboriginal and environmental advocates to re-confirm our shared concern, action and effectiveness for the long awaited total rehabilitation and completion of Kakadu National Park.

The Kakadu Charter Which Helped Stop A Uranium Mine Marks 15 Years Of Shared Values  Tomorrow marks a significant anniversary in a landmark battle to protect a people, and a place. Justin O’Brien and Dave Sweeney explain.
Continue reading

November 18, 2015 Posted by | history, Northern Territory, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

MP Warren Snowdon sceptical about siting nuclear waste dump in Northern Territory

radioactive trashNo reason to fear nuclear waste dump says owner of shortlisted farm near Alice Springs, ABC News, By James Oaten, Xavier La Canna and Nathan Coates, 13 Nov 15 “……….MP can’t see significant benefits   The federal Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, whose electorate includes the farm, said the Government had done the right thing in starting a consultation process, but was sceptical about the benefits the project could bring. “I don’t think there’s any question that if the community is opposed to this site around Alice Springs, it won’t happen,” Mr Snowdon said.

“I’ve always been a sceptic about the nuclear industry but this is a process that needs to be followed through. “There would be minimal employment opportunities. “I can’t see significant benefit from this.”

Mr Snowdon said he believed it was best to have such a facility closer to where the nuclear waste originated from…..


“It’s always been my view probably better off elsewhere, closer to where the bulk of the radioactive waste is rather than being transported long distances.”

‘Just the starting point’, environmentalist says

Director of the Alice Springs-based Arid Lands Environment Centre, Jimmy Cocking, said he was concerned the proposal may be a precursor to storing more dangerous nuclear waste.

“Low-to-intermediate waste is generally the starting point,” Mr Cocking said.

“So our concern is, if established, it will in the long term not just have low to intermediate waste.

“We are opposed to it being in Hale, we think it should be located at Lucas Heights [in New South Wales] where the expertise is.”

November 13, 2015 Posted by | Northern Territory, wastes | Leave a comment

The Balunu Foundation’s healing programme of green energy with Aboriginal people

Indigenous communities looking to go green  Penny Timms reported this story on Monday, November 2, 2015 
ELEANOR HALL: A charity that aims to break the cycle of Indigenous disadvantage says clean technology could revolutionise remote Australia. Continue reading

November 4, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, energy, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Camp Concern: protestors recall and reactivate anti nuclear campaign in Kakadu

“The mining company that has benefited and profited from the use of this area and the mining lease now needs to move towards a comprehensive clean-up.

“We’re still not completely aware of contamination problems that need to be rehabilitated.

“What’s promising is the protest from Aboriginal communities against the mining is as strong as ever. There’s a lesson [from Camp Concern] in partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists sharing information together.”

kakaduCamp Concern: Activists reunite for anti-uranium mining protest 40 years later inside Kakadu 105.7 ABC Darwin  By Emilia Terzon and Lisa Pellegrino , 27 Oct 15 As uranium mining near Kakadu faces an uncertain future, activists calling themselves Camp Concern have reunited inside the Northern Territory park to mark 40 years on from the launch of an anti-mining protest. Continue reading

October 28, 2015 Posted by | history, Northern Territory, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Energy resources of Australia abandons plan to expand Ranger uranium mine

Ranger 3Energy Resources of Australia Accepts Defeat on Ranger Uranium Mine Extension, Uranium Investing News,  • October 19, 2015 Mining Australia reported that Energy Resources of Australia (ASX:ERA) has decided to accept defeat on plan to extend Ranger uranium mine beyond 2021.

As quoted in the market news:

A statement from ERA this afternoon revealed the Mirrar Traditional Owners and Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation do not support an extension to the authority to mine at Ranger, in Kakadu National Park.

A statement from ERA said the company respected the views of the Traditional Owners, and would undertake a business review in light of their decision.

“In light of this development, ERA has commenced a process of assessing whether the company’s assets may be impaired,” the company said.

The news was welcomed by Environment Centre NT, where Nuclear Free campaigner Lauren Mellor said it was time for “the era of rehabilitation and a staged and managed exit from Kakadu to begin”.

“ERA must now accept full financial responsibility for the costly and complex task of rehabilitation, accept Rio’s funding offer and cooperate with all stakeholders in the transition to a post-mining phase of operations,” Mellor said.

October 23, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

5 million hectares of Northern Territory land joins Indigenous Protected Area (IPA)

Indigenous protection of vast area in NT will educate future generations, SMH October 2015  Environment Reporter “…..the Anangu​ traditional owners declared more than Env-Aust an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA).

Larger than Switzerland and five years in the making, the Katiti Petermann​ IPA surrounds Uluru-Kata Tjuta​ National Park and will form part of a 48 million hectare network of nine protected areas in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia border region.

It will receive $1.6 million in funding up to 2018.

“This IPA, it’s amazing.  To actually get more old people and young people to look after the land, like our ancestors,” said Mr Kenny.

“They wandered through the desert looking after their country to pass [it] down from generation to generation. Look after the country, look after the land…and the land will give back to you.”

Unique to Australia, an IPA is an area voluntarily declared and managed by Aboriginal land traditional owners as part of Australia’s National Reserve System.

The IPA manages threats from wildfires, feral animals, weeds and uncontrolled tourism, while enabling traditional owners to keep culture and knowledge of country strong.

“IPAs make a significant contribution … and protect highly significant natural and cultural values for the benefit of all Australians,” a spokesman for Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said.

Across the 5 million hectares covered by the new IPA, traditional owners had eagerly anticipated the opportunities.

Peter Donohoe​, land management co-ordinator with the Central Land Council, said the driving force has been involving young people.

“It’s really about that cultural knowledge transfer, and 5 million hectares is a huge area, so accessing country is a big part of facilitating that process,” he said.

The Katiti Petermann IPA will be Australia’s 70th and the fourth largest, testament to the broad array of Indigenous groups from Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory, who gathered in Tjitjingati this week for the ceremony……..

Patrick O’Leary is the outback conservation partnerships manager for Pew Charitable Trust, which campaigns for IPAs across Australia.

He says one of the cricitisms of remote Indigenous policies is that they are “too monolithic,” but the world-leading IPA model has proven otherwise.

“It makes a great negotiating table between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people,” he said.

“IPAs have a strong track record on environment, jobs, growth, markers about closing the gap. These programs are on the right trajectory, but we need to increase the scale of federal funding.”

October 23, 2015 Posted by | Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Uranium miner ERA burned off on day of fire, against Fire Service advice

Uranium miner ERA was told not to burn off on day of blaze: NT Fire Service

By Alyssa Betts The Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service (NTFRS) has revealed it advised Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) not to burn off on the day the uranium miner started a fire that spread into Kakadu National Park.

The fire, which ERA lit to manage weeds at its Ranger mine near Jabiru on October 1, became wild and threatened important Aboriginal cultural sites before it was extinguished a week later.

It is now being investigated by the federal Department of Environment.

A spokesman for the NTFRS said the organisation was contacted by ERA on the day it started the fire and its recommendation to the group was not to go ahead with the blaze.

“In response to an inquiry from the Ranger mine at 7:00am on the day in question, NTFRS recommended there should be no burn due to the high fire danger that day,” a spokesman said in a brief statement. ERA has previously said it notified Parks Australia the day prior to the fire and they were not advised against the back burn.

The miner has not specifically commented on the NTFRS advice.

“ERA is not required to seek approval or obtain a permit for such activities on the Ranger Project Area,” an ERA spokeswoman said.

“ERA followed its normal protocol to notify stakeholders prior to undertaking weed management activities.”

The miner said that on the day the burn was undertaken there was no fire ban in place in the region where the mine was located.

It has offered to pay for the aerial water bombing operations and said it is conducting its own internal investigation into the fire.

October 21, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Uranium miner ERA should be made accountable for fire in Kakadu National Park

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has committed to an inquiry into the fire. This is welcome but any inquiry needs to be open and transparent, not simply another yellowcake whitewash.

Kakadu has been burnt but it is ERA who should be in the firing line. The company lacks the commitment, capacity and competence to conduct such a dangerous trade in such a special place and the recent fire is further proof that it is time to close the chapter on uranium mining in Kakadu.

Uranium miner in the firing line over Kakadu burn A week-wildfire-nukelong fire in the World Heritage listed Kakadu has caused significant environmental damage and threatened Aboriginal art and cultural sites, writes Dave Sweeney. The smoke is finally starting to settle over Australia’s largest national park. For a week Kakadu has been burning following the escape of a “controlled” fire lit by the uranium mining company Energy Resources of Australia.

In a case of good luck rather than good management, no one was seriously injured but, as the flames die down and the damage assessment and questions start up, more of ERA’s shrinking credibility has literally gone up in smoke.

While the full extent of the damage is not yet known, the fire burned over 200 square kilometres of the World Heritage listed Kakadu, causing significant environmental damage and threatening ancient and important Aboriginal art and cultural sites. Continue reading

October 14, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Fall in quarterly production for uranium miner ERA

thumbs-downERA’s Sept quarter production falls, NT NewsAAP OCTOBER 13, 2015 THE Rio Tinto-owned company that recently shelved a major uranium mine expansion has reported a fall in quarterly production.

ENERGY Resources of Australia produced 457 tonnes of uranium oxide in the September quarter, down 19 per cent on the same quarter last year.

      Production was up 17 per cent on the June quarter, when output was impacted by a mill shutdown to carry out maintenance.All ore milled in the September quarter was taken from existing stockpiles, and no exploration expenditure was incurred during the quarter.ERA lost half its board in June after deciding a proposed new underground mine at Ranger in the Northern Territory will not proceed to a final feasibility study due to a sluggish uranium market.
Rio Tinto has pulled its support for any expansion, but ERA continues to seek to extend its authority to operate Ranger in order to re-visit the expansion at some stage.

The company’s total evaluation expenditure for the September quarter dropped to $1 million, from $3 million in the June quarter, due to “close out activities” of its Ranger pre-feasibility study……..

October 14, 2015 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Solar cars for Australia

R** Solar cars tested in tough NT conditions ahead of World Solar Challenge 2015

On a remote road an hour out of Darwin, dozens of solar-powered cars have been pushed to the limits for the past two weeks.


R** Solar car on track to become Australia’s first road-legal solar vehicle.

3 October 2015. This group of students are the latest in a long line of undergraduates from the University of New South Wales that have been working on solar cars.


October 12, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, Northern Territory, solar | Leave a comment

Govt to investigate ERA’s Ranger uranium mine burnoff and subsequent Kakadu fire

bushfireKakadu bushfire: Dept of Environment to investigate Ranger mine burn-off that spread to national park, ABC News, 9 Oct 15   The federal Environment Department says it will investigate a fire started by Energy Resources Australia (ERA) that spread into Kakadu National Park, threatening important cultural sites.

The fire started at ERA’s Ranger uranium mine a week ago and spread into the World Heritage-listed park, threatening several culturally sensitive Indigenous sites. In a statement to the ABC, a spokesman for Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt described the fire as a “very serious matter”.”Minister Hunt has asked the Department and Parks Australia to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the cause of the fire,” the statement said.

“No permission was sought and no approval was received for the lighting of the fire by ERA.

“We will not hesitate to seek reimbursement for the costs of firefighting if negligence or wrongdoing are in any way shown.

“Additionally, a breach of the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act can result in fines of up to $8.5 million.”

The ABC understands the NT Department of Mines and Energy will also be investigating the fire………

Aboriginal groups angry over fire

Justin O’Brien from the Gunjeihmi Corporation, which represents the area’s traditional owners, said ERA needed “to be taught about the sensitive environment” they operate in. “There’s an argument to say they should be prosecuted for what they’ve done, this is the second year in a row that they’ve done this, It’s almost a replica of last year,” he said.

“They are not learning so they need to be taught about the sensitive environment which they’re operating in.”

The Northern Land Council (NLC) said it was not confident a federal investigation would find anyone accountable for the fire.

Joe Morrison, CEO of the NLC, said he wanted to see traditional fire management practices reinstated.

“There’s been lots of fires and lots of investigations in relation to Kakadu and surrounds for a long time, we wouldn’t want to hold our breath,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said he wanted to see Aboriginal people “take control of that agenda and reinstate their traditional fire management practices”.

October 10, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Secrecy on nuclear waste plans, as Fed govt delays announcing site for radioactive trash dump

radioactive trashsecret-agent-AustFederal Government delays announcement of Australian waste dump site after silence from NT October 5, 2015  NT News
THE Federal Government has missed its due date to announce a shortlist of potential sites for Australia’s nuclear waste dump.
And despite promising last week the process would be “open and transparent”, new Northern Australia and Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg will not reveal how many nominations have been put forward, where they have come from, or when any government announcements will come.
The month-long call to nominate sites for Australia’s radioactive waste management facility was thrown open to all landholders in March because Northern Territory traditional owners, who had exclusive nomination rights, had not offered land before the Government-imposed deadline.
A controversial bid by traditional owners north of Tennant Creek to house the facility on the Muckaty Land Trust collapsed in June last year amid clan feuds and environmental activism.
The deal would have netted traditional owners about $12 million in compensation.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane left Cabinet after the Malcolm Turnbull leadership coup and Mr Frydenberg assumed responsibility for the facility in the subsequent reshuffle.
In his first interview about the troubled quest to store 70 years’ worth of Australia’s low and intermediate level nuclear waste, Mr Frydenberg told the The Adelaide Advertiser last week “the (Federal) Government is running an open and transparent process to choose a voluntary site for a national radioactive waste facility.”
Mr Macfarlane had also promised “extensive public consultation” at every stage.
But nearly five months after nominations have closed, the government will not reveal any details about the search.Ironically, Mr Frydenberg’s office has twice referred the NT News to the “open and transparent” remark while at the same time refusing to answer questions.
Australia, specifically Lucas Heights in Sydney, has already begun to take back nuclear waste from Europe, meaning the government can ill afford more Muckaty Station-style stops, starts and failures.
According to government timelines, the minister in charge, then Mr MacFarlane, was due to shortlist sites before August.
By July next year, Mr Frydenberg is supposed to announce the government’s preferred site, and by 2020 the facility is supposed to be operational. Moves to offer another site on Muckaty Station north of the original plan fell away early this year. Traditional owners from the Tanami Desert, under the auspices of the Central Land Council, had also indicated support but never nominated a site.

October 7, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Northern Territory, politics, wastes | 1 Comment

Uranium mine fire in Kakadu National Park

bushfireNT uranium mine fire: Traditional owners call on mine operator to take responsibility for blaze owners are calling on the operator of the Ranger Uranium Mine to take responsibility for a fire that is threatening important cultural sites in Kakadu National Park.

They are also warning if the out-of-control fire spreads into Kakadu’s escarpment country, it will be too difficult to contain. Parks Australia said the blaze started when the mine’s operator, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), began weed management burning which then spread into Kakadu.

Justin O’Brien from the Gunjeihmi Corporation, which represents the area’s traditional owners, said ERA should fund efforts to put out the fire. “I mean there’s an argument to say they should be prosecuted for what they’ve done, this is the second year in a row that they’ve done this, It’s almost a replica of last year,” he said. “They are not learning so they need to be taught about the sensitive environment which they’re operating in.”

Mr O’Brien said the fire was close to escarpment country, where it would be very difficult to put out. “If this fire gets into the escarpment, there’s no water in there,” he said “You can’t do suppression from the air, you cannot get boots on the ground in that country, it’s too rugged. “All you can do is wait for it to put itself out, that’s not acceptable.”

ERA said it notified Parks Australia about the controlled burn and was not instructed to stop the fire from going ahead. Kakadu rangers are due to fly over Kakadu this morning to assess the fire.

Mr O’Brien said hundreds of rock art galleries, plants and animals in Radon Springs are threatened by the fire. One of Kakadu National Park’s most significant cultural sites, Nourlangie Rock, featuring Indigenous rock art showing early contact with Europeans, as well as other art up to 50,000 years old, has been closed to tourists.

October 7, 2015 Posted by | - incidents, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Mirrar people mourn Hiroshima, and regret impacts of uranium sourced from their land

Mirarr recognise 70 years since nuclear bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki  06 Aug 2015  The Mirarr traditional owners of lands in Australia’s Northern Territory, including parts of Kakadu National Park and the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium deposits, acknowledge with sadness the seventy year anniversary of the world’s first nuclear bomb attacks.

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirarr, is supporting commemoration events around the country in recognition of the strong links between Mirarr country and Japan and the great damage that the nuclear industry has inflicted on people and country over these 70 years.

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation CEO Justin O’Brien said: “There is a strong history between Mirarr country and Japan. Mining began at Ranger- against the wishes of the Mirarr – in large part because of agreements between the Australian and Japanese governments.”

In 1978 before Ranger mine opened, then Senior Traditional Owner Taby Gangale was worried the uranium from his land might be used in nuclear weapons stating: “What if they make an atom bomb or something? Same as they did in Japan. Very dangerous.”

The Mirarr feel great responsibility for the impacts of uranium sourced from their land. Soon after the Margarula,-Yvonnenuclear emergency started at Fukushima, Mirarr senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula wrote a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressing her concern and sadness at the devastation that uranium from her lands was causing in Japan: “This is an industry we never supported in the past and want no part of in the future. We are all diminished by the events unfolding at Fukushima” Ms Margarula wrote at the time.

“In 2014 the Mirarr hosted a visit from Naoto Kan, who was Prime Minister of Japan at the time of the Fukushima nuclear emergency. Mr Kan’s visit marked a new chapter in the longstanding partnership between our two countries. We discussed the ways in which uranium has damaged both Mirarr country and Japan and the importance of working together towards peaceful energy sources and better outcomes for all people.” Mr O’Brien concluded

For details of commemoration events visit the website of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons  For further information including photographs of the Mirarr, Naoto Kan and Ranger mine contact Kirsten Blair: 0412 853 641

August 7, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | 1 Comment

Uranium miner ERA losses slump, yet again

nuclear-dead-catERA’s loss widens to $255m, Yahoo 7 Finance, 1 Aug 15   Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia has slumped to a $255 million half year loss after shelving a major mine expansion in challenging conditions.

The Rio Tinto-controlled miner will not pay a half year dividend and said the uranium market remained challenging as an oversupply kept prices week……Half of the company’s board quit last month after ERA decided its proposed new underground mine at Ranger the Northern Territory would not proceed to a final feasibility study due to a sluggish uranium market.

Controlling shareholder Rio Tinto then pulled its support for any expansion of the mine, despite ERA saying it would seek to extend its authority to operate Ranger in order to re-visit the expansion at some stage.

ERA’s net loss in the six months to June 30 is significantly larger than the $127 million loss incurred in the same period of 2014, due mainly to a $197 million writedown related to the mine decision……

August 1, 2015 Posted by | business, Northern Territory | Leave a comment


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