It was recently revealed that the French nuclear corporation Areva has been exploring for uranium in the Carpentaria basin in south west Cape York and the north east of the Gulf country for uranium deposits. Areva state that Australia possesses one of the largest uranium reserves in the world and that tens of thousands of hectares are of exploration interest.
Areva already have a track record in Australia. They are the same company that Kakadu Traditional Owner Jeffrey Lee refused to allow to mine on his ancestral lands. As the senior Traditional Owner of the Djok clan and senior custodian of Koongarra where uranium was found, Lee decided to never allow mining in the culturally and ecologically sensitive area.
Despite this opposition, Jeffrey Lee endured years of pressure to allow mining in the former Koongarra Project Area, long excluded from the surrounding Kakadu National Park and World Heritage area.
Turning his back on personal wealth, Lee chose to prioritise country and culture over cash stating; “I could have been a rich man. Billions of dollars… You can offer me anything but my land is cultural land.”
Only last year did the threat of uranium mining on Jeffrey’s country get laid to rest with the area finally and formally added to Kakadu. With the right to veto mining afforded to Traditional Owners in the Northern Territory under the Land Rights (NT) Act 1976, Mr Lee had the legal power to say no. Fortunately for all Australian’s – now and in the future – he exercised this power.
Unfortunately, this opportunity is not afforded to Traditional Owners under Queensland’s Aboriginal Land Act 1992. On Cape York Peninsula Areva has largely flown under the radar, and have been exploring in the Mitchell, Coleman and Gilbert river basins and areas further south and south west. …….
Clearly, the health of the Mitchell River and its tributaries affects the health of the people who rely on its waters for food, culture and lifestyle. As a healthy functioning ecosystem, the Mitchell River floodplain region is part of the real northern food bowl.
When Campbell Newman went to the 2012 state election with a ‘crystal clear’ commitment not to overturn the ban on uranium mining, Areva were already were warming up their drill rigs. Uranium mining is a dirty game and we’ve already seen severe contamination from leaks at Rio Tinto’s Ranger mine in the Northern Territory. Given the amount of wet season flooding on the Mitchell River, there is no doubt of direct risk to the Cape’s rivers from any future uranium operation.
What’s more, it seems as though the public’s right to contest and object to mining proposals is being eroded. Regardless of whether you live next door, downstream or elsewhere, your rights to contest mining proposals was diminished with the passing of the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014 in Queensland’s parliament recently. When enacted this heavy handed law will take away our rights to contest around 90% of mining projects.
Our healthy rivers and waterways are more than just unallocated commodities for the resource sector to consume and then dispose of. Our quality of life, through culture and lifestyle, depend on the life-giving water of the regions spectacular and precious river systems.
In the Mitchel River basin we are already seeing in-stream mining, a massive increase in exploration and increased sediment loads in aquatic environments. Introducing the risk of uranium contamination into the Mitchell and other rivers would be a disaster for people and country. It makes no sense to threaten the resource that sustains life with the ill-conceived and fast-tracked digging of a mineral that threatens life. http://www.acfonline.org.au/news-media/acf-opinion/uranium-new-threat-cape-york%E2%80%99s-rivers
“Our current Government is putting out a Green Paper called ‘The New Frontier’which includes Western Australia, Northern Territory and Northern Queensland, and they’re talking about the economic viability of the new frontier,” Lee said.
“What that translates to, is mining, taking of land, and when you start removing people from their land, then you can’t close the gap because you’re once again denying people their human rights.”
Aunty Pat, said communities need home bases, where a sense of belonging can be achieved, and children educated in the old ways to provide a path to the future where the loss their ancestor’s suffered can be replaced with traditional culture.
“We need to have a place where we can deal with a holistic approach of taking a family on a property and do the healing process,” Aunty Pat said.
“It will not take three months or six months, it could take a whole year and on this property we should have trained qualified people who will deal with the children and have some form of a mini school for the children to learn how to read and write the old way.”
Ms Vanessa Lee, said it’s crucial for our government and our country to try to understand how the land is important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
“I don’t think people understand the whole importance of land to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, it’s not just land rights, it’s a sense of spirituality,” Lee said.
“Everything comes from the earth and goes back to the earth, and that’s where you’ve got the Dreaming happening.”
Mr James said there’s evidence that what these organizations are doing out there is helping and making a difference, but they need continual support……..http://thestringer.com.au/forgotten-children-of-the-promised-land-the-fight-to-save-rural-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-communities-8944#.VE6TiiLF8nk
North Coast solar industry worried by changes to Renewable Energy Target ABC News 23 Oct 2014, The North Coast solar industry says it will be impacted by changes to the Federal Government’s changes to the renewable energy target (RET).
The target is currently set at 41,000 kilowatts of renewable energy by 2020, but the Government wants to reduce that to 26,000 to reflect falling demand for power.
The changes would only impact large-scale RET projects directly, with the small-scale scheme excluded………
Geoff Tosio from Bellingen Solar Depot said the even with the small-scale target excluded, his business will still suffer if the target is lowered.
“In regards to the renewable energy target being chopped down to a “real” 20 percent, if that’s going to happen, then how is that going to happen?” he asked.
“To say that’s not going to affect household solar is quite disingenuous.”
Mr Tosio said a particular concern is that large-scale contracts will be impacted.
“We would see a dramatic reduction in the medium size, commercial size, systems that we sell,” he said.
“So while I think it’s better than the previous position, we’ll probably still see a quarter of the industry go very, very quiet.
“And that will definitely have an impact on employment.”http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-24/north-coast-solar-industry-worried-by-changes-to-renewable-ener/5839124
To many Traditional Owners, these places are known as sickness country, or poison country, and are often considered sacred. Upsetting the poison and letting out into the landscape would be a disaster, particularly in the life giving and food providing Mitchel River basin.
The Bill, passed in parliament in early September, gives the Coordinator General the power to exclude community objection rights over some of the largest mining projects
Mining companies now have more rights than the community in Newman’s Queensland http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/10/01/comment-mining-companies-now-have-more-rights-community-newmans-queensland 1 Oct 14 Queenslanders have more reason than ever to be concerned about uranium mining in the sunshine state. By Andrew Picone Back in 2012 Queensland Premier Campbell Newman made a series of ‘crystal clear’ commitments to keep the door closed to uranium mining in Queensland. In a letter to former ACF CEO Don Henry, Newman wrote “I take this opportunity to reaffirm my statements, made before the last election, that the State Government has no plans to approve the development of uranium in Queensland”.
It proved to be one of his first broken promises. Just a fortnight later this commitment was dumped, without any independent assessment or community consultation. Uranium mining would not just be permitted in Queensland, the Premier started actively encouraging uranium mining companies to set up shop in the sunshine state.
Fast forward to 2014 and Queenslanders have more reason than ever to be concerned. In an echo of the heavy handed police state politics that so characterized former Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke Petersen, the Queensland government’s hand-picked co-ordinator general will now have sole authority over major new mining projects.
Proposed legislative changes introduced in the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014, literally rushed through the Parliament at five minutes to midnight on September 9th 2014, in particular provision 47D entitled ‘restriction in giving of objection notice under the Environmental Protection Act’ – should sound the community alarm. Continue reading
First step to first community renewable energy retailer http://www.northernstar.com.au/news/nre-awarded-54000-to-work-on-business-plan/2407390/ Rodney Stevens | 3rd Oct 2014 THE first step towards the Rainbow Region becoming Australia’s first community energy retailer has been taken with Northern Rivers Energy (NRE) being awarded $54,000 to develop a business plan.
Formed by a consortium of environmentally conscious citizens, Northern Rivers Energy NRE was awarded the grant from the Office of Environment and Heritage and the Total Environment Centre.
NRE spokeswoman Alison Crook said the company would encompass energy retailing, generation and asset management, and an educational energy literacy arm.
She said NRE would service the entire Northern Rivers Region, covering the Tweed, Kyogle, Byron, Lismore, Ballina, Richmond Valley and Clarence Valley council areas.
“Here on the Northern Rivers we have all the ingredients necessary to demonstrate that communities can meet their energy needs without relying on fossil fuels and can live in greater harmony with the environment, and still flourish,” she said.
“The Northern Rivers already has a high level of take-up of solar PV. We have a community that really understands what it means to be a community and to support each other.
“If any region can show how the renewable industry can both create employment and reduce our impact on the environment, this region can.
“Once the NRE business plan and feasibility study are complete, community consultation will begin.”
Northern Rivers Energy aims
- Provide renewable energy and purchase solar and other renewable energy from residential, commercial and government system owners at fair prices.
- Facilitate community investment in medium scale renewable energy projects.
- Provide and maintain renewable energy equipment.
- Enable purchase of equipment by consumers through lease or finance arrangements.
- Partner with social housing providers, caravan parks and retirement villages to facilitate access to renewable energy and efficient solutions for people on low incomes.
Shadow Environment Minister Jackie Trad exposes foolish decision of Queensland govt on uranium mining
LNP under fire as companies target Qld uranium http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/lnp-uranium-green-light/2384465/ Bill Hoffman | 12th Sep 2014 THE ALP has slammed the Newman government decision to grant mineral development leases to two companies planning to mine uranium in Queensland.
Shadow Environment Minister Jackie Trad accused the LNP of lying before the last election when it gave what she described as a clear commitment not to endorse uranium mining.
“The Premier gave a clear election commitment but the granting of six exploration licences shows once again the value of an LNP promise,” she said.
“In breaking the promise, the Newman Government is ignoring the widespread objections of Queenslanders, ignoring the substantial environmental risks associated with uranium mining, ignoring the risks associated with the transportation ofradioactive material and ignoring the risks to public health and safety.
“It is a massive betrayal of trust.
“We are just a few steps away from having trucks and trains filled with uranium making their way through communities to ports and waterways.”
Ms Trad accused the Newman Government of arrogantly ignoring the wishes of the majority so it could pander to the demands of powerful vested interest groups.
She said there had been no uranium extraction in Queensland since 1982. Any future State Labor government would move swiftly to reinstate the ban. “It remains our view that the risks and hazards inherent in uranium mining far outweigh the economic benefits,” Ms Trad said.
“Even if all known deposits of uranium were mined the expected royalties would only be around 1% of the state’s current royalty revenue.”Uranium mining simply doesn’t stack up on either economic or environmental grounds.”
Ms Trad will be on the Sunshine Coast as special guest at her party’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland branch forum on the environment and the Newman Government’s track record on green policy.
It will be held at Maleny Neighbourhood Centre on Saturday, September 27 at 2pm.
“Even if all known deposits of uranium were mined the expected royalties would only be around 1% of the State’s current royalty revenue,” she said.
“We are just a few steps away from having trucks and trains filled with uranium making their way through communities to ports and waterways.”
Ms Trad said there had been no uranium extraction in Queensland since 1982 and confirmed that a future State Labor Government would move swiftly to reinstate the ban” .
Australia’s Queensland state seeks investment from Indian firms in uranium mining Business Today Anilesh S Mahajan August 29, 2014 A week before Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott lands in New Delhi on his first trip to India, the Australian state of Queensland is soliciting investments from Indian companies to mine uranium…….
The organized opposition to the federal government’s moves to abolish or reduce Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) has begun. More than 500 people attended a rally in Brisbane to protest against changes to the RET. The Australian Solar Council launched a campaign against the federal government making changes to the RET. Its first event in the northeastern state of Queensland on Thursday attracted 500 attendees.
The council’s CEO John Grimes said that a clear message has been sent to the government that Australians in key electorates are willing to vote to defend renewable energy in the country.
“Tonight over 500 solar heroes have come forward to send a clear warning to the Abbott government,” said Grimes. He said the message to Abbott’s conservative government has been clear: “We love solar, solar saves us money on power bills [and] we will vote to defend the Renewable Energy Target!”
The Save Solar campaign has also raised the ire of the government. Environment Minister Greg Hunt slammed John Grimes on ABC Radio……..
“The Environment Minister should be attacking the Prime Minister’s radical plan to shut down the solar industry, not shooting the messenger,” said Grimes. “Today’s outburst shows how scared the Government is of this national campaign to Save Solar taking hold.”
There have been a host of surveys showing that Australians are supportive of renewable energy and the RET. With over 1.3 million solar households around the country, certainly a large number of people have first hand experience of solar.
The Australian Newspaper, a Rupert Murdoch owned publication that is generally skeptical of climate change and is often critical of renewable energy has been running a series of surveys about Australian’s attitudes towards renewables. In its most recent survey, it found that 88% of Australians support renewable energy, while only 8% report being “totally against.”
The Australian currently has a second survey live here.
Australia’s Clean Energy Council is also currently campaigning against changes to the RET. It’s CEO Kane Thornton argues that even a reduction of the RET to a “true 20%,” proposed as a compromise measure, would devastate the renewable energy industry in Australia. http://www.pv-magazine.com/news/details/beitrag/australia–pro-solar-rally-slams-attack-on-renewable-target_100016170/#axzz3BRV0obrI
Darwin and Adelaide likely export hubs for Queensland uranium (includes audios) ABC Rural By Marty McCarthy 14 Aug 14 “……….Mr Sweeney also says he’s not convinced by the Queensland Government’s assertions that Queensland ports won’t export uranium in the near future, negating the need for transfer to Darwin or Adelaide. “The Queensland Government has had a number of direct opportunities to rule [exporting from Queensland] out and it hasn’t,” he said.
“They’ve kept the door open for future uranium exports from a Queensland Port, and particularly from the Port of Townsville.”
“We’ve seen in both the Federal Government’s energy white paper, and in clear statements by the Australian Uranium Association, an industry body, a desire to develop an east coast port for uranium exports,” he said.
Mr Sweeney suspects Townsville is the most likely city to become a future Queensland-based export hub for uranium, despite Mr Cripps’ saying it is unlikely. “The Ben Lomond [uranium] project is 50 kilometres up the road from Townsville, now you join those dots and you get a picture of ships through the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.
Canadian miner Mega Uranium, although interested in the Ben Lomond site, it is yet to announce plans to re-open it.
However, a French-owned mining company is spending millions of dollars on uranium exploration near remote towns in north-west Queensland, in a race to be the state’s first uranium miner since the ban 32 years ago.
AREVA Resources has drilled more than 90 holes since late 2012, and managing director Joe Potter says the company plans to continue searching.
“The change in policy and the certainty around the ability to mine uranium in Queensland has given us the confidence to press on with our exploration and see if we can become the first uranium miner,” he said.
The company plans to continue searching around Cloncurry, west of Mt Isa, later this year……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-13/queensland-looks-to-adelaide-anddarwin-to-export-uranium/5666458
Darwin and Adelaide likely export hubs for Queensland uranium (includes audios) ABC Rural By Marty McCarthy 14 Aug 14 “……..Queensland announced this month it is now accepting applications from uranium miners wanting to operate in the state after a 32 year ban, raising questions about where the uranium will be exported from.
There are no ports in Queensland licensed to export the material, and the Newman Government says ports in Adelaide and Darwin will likely be used instead, rather than shipping over the Great Barrier Reef.
Queensland’s Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps, says it’s not up to him to decide which city becomes the hub for Queensland’s uranium exports. …….
Mr Cripps would not rule out exporting uranium from Queensland directly……..
not everyone sees trucking uranium across the country as an opportunity. Continue reading
Quarter of houses rely on renewable energy http://www.gladstoneobserver.com.au/news/Why-we-rule-solar-race/2350835/ Ebony Battersby | 14th Aug 2014 DESPITE living in a coal-centric town, Gladstone residents are leading the nation in the switch to solar.
New figures reveal Gladstone homes are installing solar powered energy at rates faster than the rest of the country, coming in second on the list behind Bundaberg. About 26 per cent of Gladstone households are now relying on renewable energies.
Bundaberg tops the list with 38 per cent of households now solar users, with Mackay falling shortly behind at 23 per cent.
The Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie praised the efforts of Gladstone residents. “It’s great to see Gladstone residents are taking matters into their own hands, taking control of their power bills and reducing their carbon emissions at the same time,” she said. “Gladstone households already know that renewables make sense economically and environmentally, now it’s time for the rest of the country to catch up.”
Renewable energies are the one-way road to the future, according to local solar consultant Murray Kay. “We power the shop here entirely on solar,” he said.”Business has been great here in Gladstone. Solar is the way of the future.”
However, the solar versus coal argument presents a conundrum for local who invested in both the renewable and finite industries. On July 2, Queensland breached the negative energy price barrier for several hours, driven by the prevalence of rooftop solar.
This is not uncommon during the evening when power use is minimal. But on July 2, the milestone was reached in the middle of the day.
Regularly priced at around $40-$50 per megawatt hour, the plunge to zero confirmed solar was not only powering the state.
Predictions declare that 75 per cent of Australia’s residential buildings and 90 per cent of commercial buildings will be powered by rooftop solar in as little as ten years, according to UBS data. It is estimated that the demand for electricity has plummeted by 13 per cent over the past four years.
Work starts at UQ Gatton on Australia’s largest solar photovoltaic systems research facility University of Queensland News, 6 August 2014 The University of Queensland and First Solar have begun construction on a 3.275 megawatt solar photovoltaic research facility at UQ’s Gatton campus.
It will be the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) research facility in the southern hemisphere and support innovation in Australia’s renewable energy industry by providing world-leading research on large-scale solar power systems.
“The researchers using this facility will provide new insights on integrating large-scale renewable power plants with conventional electricity grids,” said UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj.
“These researchers are some of the best in the business, and their teamwork with an innovative global company such as First Solar will ensure optimal returns on a substantial Australian government investment in renewable energy research and development, with excellent implications for society and the environment.”
Covering 10ha, the plant will be Queensland’s largest solar PV project and produce enough electricity annually to power more than 450 average Australian homes, equivalent to displacing more than 5600 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide or removing 1590 cars from the road.
It is a pilot plant for new and existing large-scale Australian solar projects, including the Nyngan (102MW) and Broken Hill (53MW) plants being built by First Solar for AGL PV Solar Developments Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of AGL Energy Limited in New South Wales.
In addition to supplying and installing about 40,000 advanced thin-film photovoltaic panels in ground-mounted arrays, First Solar will also provide engineering, procurement and construction for the Gatton PV Pilot Plant………http://www.uq.edu.au/news/article/2014/08/work-starts-uq-gatton-australia%E2%80%99s-largest-solar-photovoltaic-systems-research
Cripps claims preference to export uranium from SA or NT, Australian Mining 1 August, 2014 Ben Hagemann With Queensland drumming up support for getting back into the uranium business, mines minster Andrew Cripps has not ruled out the prospect of exporting the radioactive resource from Queensland ports.
A statement from Queensland government yesterday said the Government had a “preference” for uranium to be exported from existing licensed ports.
Australia has only two licensed ports for the export of uranium, being Port Adelaide in South Australia (receiving ore from Olympic Dam), and Darwin in the Northern Territory (shipping ore from Ranger). Cripps said that the Queensland government would be willing to consider licensing a port within the state for shipping uranium.
Well if an application comes forward to assess a port for the export of uranium oxide, I mean, we’ll take it and we’ll assess it,” he said………
The Queensland government has invited tenders to reopen the Mary Kathleen mine, which has been closed since 1982.
Mary Kathleen is near Mt Isa in Northern Queensland, and bears rare earth elements such as lanthanum, cerium, praesodymium, neodymium, as well as uranium, all of which are present in tailings waiting to be processed.
Presently there are 7 million tonnes of tailings left at the Mary Kathleen mine, with an estimated 3 per cent rare earth purity……..http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/cripps-claims-preference-to-export-uranium-from-sa
The Great Barrier Reef and the coal mine that could kill it, Guardian, Tim Flannery, 2 Aug 14 These are dark days for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. On 29 July, the last major regulatory hurdle facing the development of Australia’s largest coal mine was removed by Greg Hunt, minister for the environment. The Carmichael coal mine, owned by India’s Adani Group, will cover 200 sq km and produce 60m tonnes of coal a year – enough to supply electricity for 100 million people. Located in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, 400km inland from the reef, it will require a major rail line, which is yet to receive final approval, to transport the coal, which must then be loaded on to ships at the ports of Hay Point and Abbot Point, near Gladstone on the Queensland coast, adjacent to the southern section of the reef. Both ports require dredging and expansion to manage the increased volume of shipping. Once aboard, the coal must be shipped safely through the coral labyrinth that is the Great Barrier Reef, and on to India, where it will be burned in great coal-fired power plants.
The proposed development will affect the reef at just about every stage. Indeed, so vast is the project’s reach that it is best thought of not as an Australian, or even an Australian-Indian project, but one of global impact and significance………..
Today, the Carmichael mine development is occurring adjacent to what is now a very sick Great Barrier Reef. A 2012 study established that around half of the coral composing the reef is already dead – killed by pesticide runoff, muddy sediment from land clearing, predatory starfish, coral bleaching and various other impacts. The coal mine development will add significant new pressures. First will come the dredging for the new ports. The 5m or more tonnes of mud, along with whatever toxins they contain, will be dug up, transported and dumped into the middle of the reef area. Some studies suggest that the suffocating sediment will not drift far enough to harm the majority of the reef. But who can say what impact tides, currents or cyclones, which are frequent in the area, will have on the muddy mass?
The raw coal itself will be another pollutant. Coal dust and coal fragments already find their way from stockpiles, conveyor belts and loaders into the waters of the reef. Indeed, existing coal loaders have already dumped enough coal for it to have spread along the length and breadth of the reef. In areas near the loaders, enough has accumulated to have a toxic effect on the corals that grow there.
There is also the ever-present possibility of a coal ship running aground on the reef……….
If the Carmichael coal mine is a global story, and the Great Barrier Reef a global asset, then the issue should not be left to Australia alone to decide. The citizens of the world deserve a say on whether their children should have the opportunity to see the wonder that is the reef. Opportunities to do this abound. Petitioning national governments to put climate change on the agenda of the G20 summit, to be held in Australia in November this year, is one. Pushing governments to play a constructive role at the 2015 climate negotiations in Paris is another, as is letting the Australian government know directly that everybody has a stake in the reef, and that it needs to act to secure its future. The Great Barrier Reef does not have to die in a greenhouse disaster like the one that devastated the world’s oceans 55 million years ago. But if we don’t act decisively, and soon, to stem our greenhouse gas emissions, it will. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/aug/01/-sp-great-barrier-reef-and-coal-mine-could-kill-it