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
Queenslanders want renewables to become the ‘norm’ http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/queenslanders-want-renewables-to-become-the-norm-89672 By Giles Parkinson on 1 August 2014
That would mean that “alternative, renewable energy is a Queensland commodity. It is affordable, commercially viable and available to all Queenslanders. Our infrastructure supports these renewable energy solutions.”
The document also states: “Increasingly, Queenslanders are turning to renewable energy alternatives. In the coming decades, as new technologies emerge, cleaner alternative energy sources may help us become better and wiser at using natural resources so they are protected and last longer.”
Premier Campbell Newman hailed the plan as “a massive and exemplary exercise in listening and consulting which involved various discussion forums from summits and community think tanks to boardroom workshops and robust family debates.”
But Queenslanders shouldn’t get too excited about Newman’s LNP government making a sudden lunge towards clean energy.
Queensland may well have more rooftop solar PV than any other state – 1.1GW out of a country total of 3.4GW – but it has very few large scale renewable energy projects, and little prospect of more in the near term. Network operators have also introduced new rules that may prevent new solar installations from exporting their output back into the grid.
The Newman Government has constantly derided “green schemes”, such as the solar feed-in tariff, for contributing towards higher power prices, even though it has benefited from a huge increase in dividends from the state owned network operators derived from big increases in network costs.
The government also wants the renewable energy target brought to a halt, rather than expanded. This appears designed to accommodate the needs of the state-owned fossil fuel generators, Stanwell Corp and CS Energy, which have called for renewable support schemes to end.
Stanwell Corp, in particular, has been critical of the role that rooftop solar has played in lowering wholesale electricity prices and forcing its books into the red.
The Queensland Energy Minister, Mick McArdle, said in his submission to the RET Review panel, that efforts to reduce emissions should be delayed until the state is rich enough.
So, how will the Newman government respond to the desire of its constituents expressed in the Queensland Plan?
The document includes some suggestions about how Queenslanders can “turn their ideas into action” and “make our vision a reality”.
Specifically, the document recommends:
“Subscribe to local and international think tanks and keep up to date about alternative energy solutions and environmental issues.”
Well, that’s a start. We trust, however, that the Newman government is not suggesting the Institute of Public Affairs. We’d recommend The Australian Institute, or the Centre for Policy Development. And RenewEconomy.
1 Aug 14 State government plans released today and promoting a fast tracked uranium industry in Queensland have been described by ACF as fanciful and irresponsible.
“The LNP’s promotion of uranium mining has the logic of a problem gambler,” said ACF nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney. “It is a bad policy based on a broken promise and is driven by enthusiasm rather than evidence”.
Ahead of the 2012 state election Campbell Newman declared it was ‘very, very clear that we have no plans to develop any sort of uranium mines in Queensland’. After the election and without any independent assessment or public consultation the LNP back-flipped on uranium and today Mines Minister Cripps is championing the sector.
His industry promotion is deeply flawed, including in relation to:
(i) Economic benefits – these have never independently tested by LNP and the Australian uranium industry has been seriously hurt and constrained by market fallout from Fukushima with the uranium price hovering around nine-year lows amid weak demand.
The Ministers spruiking of uranium as an economic bonanza has been released as Australia’s longest operating uranium mine – Energy Resources of Australia’s Ranger mine in Kakadu – announced a further half year operating loss of $127 million.
“Queenslanders would do well to look at the facts before signing on to the fiction. This is an absurd time to be giving a green light to yellowcake,” said Mr Sweeney.
(ii) Royalty payments: the Minister’s talk of “royalties to fund school and health services, roads and public infrastructure” fails to acknowledge that the Queensland Resources Council is currently involved in closed door talks with the LNP seeking to negotiate reduced or suspended royalties for any future state uranium mine.
(iii) Uranium transport: Minister Cripps dismissal of community concerns over the possible future movement of uranium through a Queensland port lacks credibility. The LNP government has not ruled out any such movements, the Port of Townsville has formally expressed interest in facilitating such movements, the federal government and uranium industry lobbyists are pushing for a new export site on the east coast and the proposed Ben Lomond deposit is just up the road.
In today’s media when asked whether it was possible for a Queensland port to be granted permission to be used as an export point, Mr Cripps would not rule it out: “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.”
“The Queensland community and environment deserve better than backflips, backroom deals and backward thinking,” said Mr Sweeney.
“If Minister Cripps thinks this industry adds up he should have no problem with an independent public Inquiry into the cost and consequences of the LNP’s plan for uranium mining. This industry is contested and contaminating and demands scrutiny and rigour, not wishful thinking and lame assurances,” said Mr Sweeney.
Further context or comment: Dave Sweeney 0408 317 812
Australian War Memorial should recognise revised Aboriginal death toll: researcher, Brisbane Times July 17, 2014 Cameron Atfield Brisbane Times and Sun-Herald journalist New research that has calculated an Aboriginal death toll of more than 65,000 in Queensland alone during the so-called frontier wars has renewed calls for formal recognition at the Australian War Memorial.
But the AWM in Canberra has dismissed the idea, saying recognition should instead be in the National Museum.
The research, presented to the Australian Historical Association’s Conflict in History conference last week at the University of Queensland, estimated 66,680 deaths between 1788 and 1930.
Of those deaths, 65,180 were indigenous, which is more than six times what was previously thought. The report’s co-author, historian Professor Raymond Evans, said the calculations were based on official records, witnesses’ reports and the number of patrols undertaken by the colonial Queensland government’s Native Police.
Professor Evans said the 65,180 figure was “conservative” and could be as high as 115,000.
“This is just Queensland – imagine what the nation-wide figure could be,” he said.
“If you say it’s a war, you at least allow the fact that Aboriginal people fought hard to defend their lands, so you can say they were warriors and they were fighting for their country. “They were fighting for Australia, for their land.”
Professor Evans said the estimated death toll was at least on a par with Australian casualties during World War I.
“The Australian War Memorial should recognise this as a war. It’s got such a high death rate, it was fought over a long period of time and it was fought between different communities, different nations, for territory,” he said.
“It’s a fight for land and territorial possession and it has many features of warfare and, of course, a huge death rate.” http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/australian-war-memorial-should-recognise-revised-aboriginal-death-toll-researcher-20140716-ztqr6.html#ixzz388vSgyg2