Australian news, and some related international items

Western Australian Wiluna uranium project in the doldrums for the forseeable future

thumbs-downWA’s first uranium mine likely to be delayed as Toro Energy puts Wiluna on hold WESTERN Australia’s first new uranium mine is likely to be delayed due to the ongoing downturn in demand and prices, Perth Now, 1 Oct 15 

Toro Energy has put its Wiluna uranium project on hold as it waits for market conditions to improve. The company began drilling at the project in 2014 and had expected to start operations in 2017.

“We will get to build Wiluna when we get the price that makes Wiluna economic. We are not seeing that price today,” managing director Vanessa Guthrie told AAP.

Wiluna, 960 kilometres northeast of Perth, is the first new uranium mine in WA to receive federal Guthrie poisoned-chalice-3government approval since the lifting of a ban on uranium mining in 2008.

The project will require prices between $60 and $70 a pound to make money, Dr Guthrie said.

Long term uranium prices currently hover around $45 per pound, almost half the levels of five years ago. Prices are expected to dip further because of large stockpiles……..

Global uranium production has stalled in the past two years as depressed uranium prices have curtailed exploration activities and the opening of new mines……

October 1, 2015 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s govt slow to re-register Aboriginal sacred sites

Aboriginal-protest-remote-WWA Government ‘dragging feet’ over sacred site registration: Indigenous group, ABC News 25 Sep 15 By Kathryn Diss An Aboriginal heritage group has accused the State Government of dragging its feet on reinstating several sacred sites it deregistered over the past year.

Several culturally significant sites around WA have had their protection withdrawn on the basis they no longer fit the definition of a sacred site.

Guidelines issued by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs stated that to be a recognised sacred site, a place needed to have been devoted to religious use rather than simply mythological stories, songs or beliefs.

But in a test case in April challenging the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee’s (ACMC) deregistration of a site in Port Hedland, the Supreme Court quashed the decision to remove it from the protected list.

Dr Stephen Bennetts from the Aboriginal Heritage Action Alliance said it had been months since the ruling was handed down and the government had not yet reinstated the other sites.

Dr Bennetts said he is concerned the sites could be damaged if they were not adequately protected. “It is quite possible some of those may have already been damaged,” he said.

Dr Bennetts said it was a scandal none of the custodians of the deregistered sites had been notified of the court’s decision.

“Because we know the reasoning the ACMC deregistered them in the first place was to make it easier for developers to get their approvals that was the exact reason,” he said………..

September 26, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Walkatjurra Walkabout completes 5th walk against uranium mining in West Australia 16 Sep 15: “The Walkatjurra Walkabout, which started in 2011,  finished its 5th walk in the North Eastern Goldfields town  of Leonora on Tuesday. The walk, a collaboration of Aboriginal and non-indigenous people, is a moving community  protest against the proposed uranium mines in the region.

The month long walk, lead by local Traditional Owners,  covered almost 450 km’s from Wiluna to Leonora, passing  Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium mine proposal at Lake Way and Cameco’s proposed uranium mine at Yeelirrie Station.  Walk participants included local Traditional Owners, people
from Australia, Japan, Taiwan, England, Sweden, Aotearoa (New Zealand), America and France.

The walks continue to attract people interested in learning about Aboriginal culture, caring for country and to share a united vision for a nuclear free world.

greensSmThe walk was also joined at Yeelirrie for two days by Federal Greens senators Rachel Siewert and Co-Deputy Greens leader Scott Ludlam along with state Greens MLC Robin Chapple.

The visit included a tour of Toro Energy’s uranium project at Lake Way near Wiluna with walkers and Toro Energy. Many of the participants have first hand experience of the
dangers of the nuclear industry, especially those from Japan and Taiwan, whose nuclear industry are fuelled by Australian uranium. … “

September 19, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, opposition to nuclear, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Video: Walkajurra Walkabout protest Toro uranium mining project

Env-AustWalkajurra Walkabout begins fifth protest of Toro uranium mining project Anti-nuclear protesters have come together for the fifth consecutive Walkajurra Walkabout to oppose energy company’s Toro Energy uranium mining project.
By  Craig Quartermaine Yellarie Source:  NITV News 31 AUG 2015 

TRANSCRIPT Malarndirri McCarthy: The Walkajurra Walkabout has international anti-nuclear protesters and traditional owners gathered together on some of the richest uranium deposits in the country.

Craig Quartermaine: I’m here at Yellerie Station for the Walkajurra Walkabout that will continue for the next two weeks it’s a dynamic mix of people who make their way through country

After protesters set up camp, they had a breakdown of the meeting with Toro Energy before turning in for the night……

Kado Muir is the Tjurrura man who has lead the event for the last five years .

Kado Muir, Walkajurra Walkabout organiser: So if they ever got the approval to mine it, it would dig up a 50 kilometre area, taking uranium out of the ground, turning it over, extracting the ore, leaving radioactive materials behind, all this beautiful land will end up being a radioactive wasteland……..Basically all these people share this common goal with us the Aboriginal people of this land of keeping uranium in the ground and shutting down the nuclear industry.

September 3, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australian Labor holds firm to nuclear-free policies

logo-ALPURANIUM AND THORIUM (nb: from Environment chapter)

  1. WA Labor believes that:
  2. Enriching uranium poses significant risks to human health, the natural environment and is not a solution to climate change; and
  3. Thorium also poses significant risks to human health and the environment.


  1. In Government, WA Labor will:
  2. Oppose the mining and export of uranium;
  3. Oppose nuclear enrichment, nuclear power and otherwise the production of dangerous radioactive waste;
  4. Oppose the storage of nuclear energy waste in Western Australia;
  5. Oppose the testing or use of nuclear weapons in Western Australia or near our coastline;
  6. Encourage local governments to declare themselves ‘Nuclear Free Zones’; and
  7. Ensure that the mining of thorium in Western Australia only occurs under the most stringent environmental conditions and oppose thorium exports to countries that do not observe the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


URANIUM MINING & NUCLEAR ENERGY (nb: from Industry and Regional Development chapter)

  1. Recognising the problems, hazards and dangers of nuclear power, especially relating to:
  2. The safety of the nuclear fuel cycle;
  3. The unsolved problems pertaining to the reprocessing and storage of radioactive wastes and spent plant;
  4. The growing concern about the biomedical effects of even low radiation;
  5. The coupling of nuclear energy and nuclear weapon development;
  6. The added danger of a future plutonium economy and the threats to civil liberties involved in a nuclear economy; and
  7. The fact that Labor policy contained herein on fossil fuels, energy conservation and renewable resources will ensure Western Australian energy self-sufficiency.


  1. WA Labor will:
  2. Reject nuclear power as an option for electricity generation in Western Australia;
  3. Oppose the establishment of a nuclear enrichment facility in the State;
  4. Reject the establishment of nuclear processing plants or the storage of nuclear wastes in the State;
  5. Allow no uranium mining or development in Western Australia; and
  6. Place thorium under the restrictions and conditions applicable to the mining, processing, sale and transportation of uranium currently mined in Australia as outlined in the Resources and Energy section of the National Platform, so far as they relate to nuclear non-proliferation.


  1. The platform recognises WA Labor’s long and continuous opposition to Uranium Mining.  The commencement and continuation of any uranium project is inconsistent with WA Labor Policy.  WA Labor will accept no obligation to complete approval processes or honour contractual arrangements entered into by a previous government where such approvals or contracts are directed towards an outcome inconsistent with WA Labor’s platform.

International Relations:

Support measures that prevent the use of Australian uranium exports in the proliferation of nuclear weapons or environmental degradation


September 2, 2015 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Solar energy to power Perth

text-people-power-solarSolar to fuel new power generation Daniel Mercer August 27, 2015, 

Nearly all of Perth’s daytime electricity needs will be met by rooftop solar panels within a decade, according to State Energy Minister Mike Nahan.In his strongest comments yet on the rampant popularity of solar panels, Dr Nahan told an Energy in WA conference the technology would provide virtually all new generation capacity by 2025.

Fuelled by falling solar panel prices and rising electricity tariffs, demand for solar cells has been running at 20-30 per cent in Perth for the past six years.

About 170,000 households in the South West grid covering Perth now have a system.

Dr Nahan said installed solar capacity across the city was about 500MW — or the equivalent of a major base-load power station — and this was expected to more than double within years.

“We expect that the bulk of generating capacity during sunlight hours in the metro area in about 10 years time will be provided by rooftop solar,” Dr Nahan said.

“That’s the reality. So it is going to provide the bulk of additional capacity going forward.

“It will also displace a lot of the existing capacity. It’s low-priced, it’s democratically determined and it’s something we’re committed to facilitating.”

The comments came as Dr Nahan provided an update of the Government’s plans to shake up the electricity sector.

He said moves to end Synergy’s monopoly over the household power market and throw it open to competition by 2018 were on track.

Before the Government could do that, however, he said the subsidy to the State-owned utility would need to be erased and excess capacity from the system stripped by reducing some Synergy capacity.

He said it was too early to say which plants would be closed

August 27, 2015 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | 1 Comment

Canning voters are urged to reject Liberals’ war on solar energy


The solar council is planning a nationwide marginal seats campaign at the next election.

The government has directed the CEFC – which it unsuccessfully tried to abolish – to stop investments in rooftop solar, but changes to the investment mandate remain under legal uncertainty.

Canning byelection: solar industry urges voters to reject Liberals ‘war on solar’, Guardian, , 25 Aug 15

Solar Council letterboxes all electors in Western Australia’s seat of Canning encouraging them to vote for Labor, the Greens or the Palmer United party The solar logo-australian-solar-councindustry is letterboxing all electors in the crucial West Australian Canning byelection urging them to vote against the Liberal party on 19 September in response to the Abbott government’s “war on solar”.

The Solar Council leaflet states: “Installing solar helps Western Australians cut a typical power bill by up to 65%. The federal government is targeting solar by slashing the renewable energy target. We will support any political party with a good solar policy.”

  It advocates a vote against the Liberals and for either Labor, the Greens or the Palmer United party.

The council has invited all party leaders and candidates to a public forum on 13 September

Canning Forum

– a week before the byelection that could affect Tony Abbott’s hold on the Liberal leadership – to explain their solar policies. Continue reading

August 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Dump for Lucas Heights wastes not the same thing as importing foreign nuclear wastes

radioactive trashWe may now expect Fed govt to await the bi-election in Canning in Perth on Sept 17th before announcing the national nuclear dump site short list across SA & WA – just as South Australian  Premier awaited his bi-elections before announcing the Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission

In any case, the national store & repository are required by law under National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 as a national dump to be restricted to take waste ‘of domestic origin’.

And so has to be at a different site to proposed International nuclear dump being pushed in South Australia.


August 21, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Esperance to be sacrificed for the profits of the uranium industry?

why should the people of Esperance have any faith they will be protected this time around by those with responsibility to regulate mining companies and protect the community, when they failed so badly last time?

During the Esperance lead crises, Government agencies continually downplayed the seriousness of the problem and denied any serious risk to human health.

Martin Bruckner’s remarkable book Under Corporate Skies tells the shocking story of another Western Book Under Corporate SkiesAustralian “Sacrifice Zone”

The inability of WA Government agencies to effectively regulate and monitor the operations and performance of multinational corporations whose rationale is profit maximization was confirmed in a recent WA Auditor General’s Report.


Esperance WA: Sacrifice zone for the profits of the uranium industry?, The Stringer,  by Colin Penter July 20th, 2015 A mining industry media outlet hasreported that the uranium industry in WA is keen to establish Esperance on WA’s southern coast, as a port export hub for radioactive uranium material mined in Western Australia. Continue reading

July 22, 2015 Posted by | environment, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Uranium company Cameco offends Shire of Esperance in discussing use of its port.

exclamation-Shire of Esperance irate about uranium remarks, Australian Mining 
15 July, 2015 Ben Hagemann The Shire of Esperance has lashed out at public suggestions by Cameco that they would want to use the WA port for shipping uranium. The managing director of Cameco Australia, Brian Reilly, recently announced the company would want to explore the possibility of shipping their products through Esperance.

Shire president Malcolm Heasman said the Canadian miner had not approached the local council to discuss the prospect of exporting uranium through the Port of Esperance, before the making public statements of their intent, a move he said was “extremely discourteous”……..

Heasman said uranium was a very emotive commodity, and that the Shire of Esperance ran a “very clean port” which used world-best practice when handling cargo. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s uranium or nickel or any other product, to come through our port hey have to satisfy world’s best practice, and the community won’t stand for anything less,” he said. “I don’t know if they were just trying to solicit a comment, but it would be nice if they actually came and spoke with us.”

Cameco’s Yeeleerie project, billed as the largest uranium development in WA, is located near Wiluna some distance from Port Adelaide and Darwin, the only two ports in Australia approved for shipping uranium.

July 18, 2015 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Yeelirrie uranium project suspended, but will it later ship uranium through Esperance?

uranium-oreWill uranium be shipped through Esperance?, Australian Mining 14 July, 2015 Ben Hagemann With the uranium industry gaining momentum in WA, Canadian miner Cameco has suggested Esperance as an export hub for products.

Cameco’s Yeeleerie project, billed as the largest in WA, is located near Wiluna some distance from Port Adelaide and Darwin, the only two ports in Australia approved for shipping uranium.

While the Yeeleerie project has been slowed to wait for commodity price recovery in the post-Fukushima uranium market, Cameco Australia managing director Brian Reilly said all options for shipping would be considered………

So far two uranium mines have been approved in WA since the 2008 lifting of the ban on uranium mining: Cameco’s Kintyre Project in the Pilbara, and Toro Energy’s Wiluna Project.

Toro Energy has already outlined plans to ship product through Port Adelaide, a 2700km journey by truck.

The issue of transporting radioactive rare earths materials came up in 2012 when Lynas Corporation rare earth shipping activities through the Port of Esperance were strenuously opposed by Greens member for Fremantle Adele Carles………

July 15, 2015 Posted by | uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s Barnett goverment moving Aborigines off their land to benefit miners

handsoffIt is a trend that points to one thing — move indigenous people off their country so that the miners get a free hand and they can do as they will.

Michael Martinez: WA stance on indigenous Australia a worrying sign, MICHAEL MARTINEZ GEELONG ADVERTISER JULY 09, 2015 “…….. Mr Barnett and his pro-mining party members are trying to change the Aboriginal Heritage Act so that one bureaucrat can make a decision determining if a site is sacred or not.

There has already been a Supreme Court decision questioning the deregistering of a sacred site in Port Headland, and there are 22 other sites that the West Australian Government has removed during the past few years.

A government committee in Western Australia and the minister decided that the land and waters around parts of Port Hedland port should no longer be considered an Aboriginal sacred site because it had not been used for religious purposes.

Justice Chaney said in his judgment: “I conclude that the committee did not give consideration to the question of whether or not the Marapikurrinya Yintha was a place of importance or special significance because the question did not arise for consideration in light of the conclusion that it was not a sacred site.”  Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Poorer Western Australians will lose out from Abbott’s solar turnoff – Senator Scott Ludlam


WA Greens senator says Abbott solar turn-off will hit battlers hardest, WA Today July 13, 2015   Reporter WA battlers will be hardest hit by the Abbott government’s decision to wind back investment into home solar, according to Greens Senator Scott Ludlam.

He said the state’s solar-driven homes were now producing as much electricity as two conventional coal-fueled power stations.

And he believes it is too soon for the Abbott Government to pull the plug on investments into the solar industry. “Retirees, people on lower incomes and people in outer metro and rural areas of the state will be hardest hit by this.

The federal government has recently directed the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to exclude household and small scale solar from further investment funding. Senator Ludlam said the government still needed to support the solar industry.

Some 180,000 WA households have installed rooftop solars and Senator Ludlam said they were now generating the equivalent of two typical coal fire power stations. “Solar powered WA homes have increased 19 per cent in just one year – overwhelmingly in outer suburbs and households with lower incomes,” he said.

WA now has four postcodes in Australia’s top 20 solar suburbs including Mandurah at number two, North east Wanneroo at eight, Canning Vale/Willeton at 12 and Cockburn at 19.

Home owners benefit from trading in small scale technology certificates at the time of installation and feed-in tariffs (selling power back into the grid). “Householders are streaking ahead of the state and federal government as they use rooftop solar to dramatically reduce their power bills, but Tony Abbott’s crusade against renewable energy is set to have a devastating effect. Continue reading

July 15, 2015 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | 1 Comment

Fight back against government plans to shut down remote Aboriginal communities

The racist and neo-liberal mindset that drives the present and previous governments’ policies on land rights and remote, self managed communities does not recognise any culture or society that may be based on community or collective principles, or practises ecological land management, developed for this environment over tens of thousands years.

The UN State of the Indigenous Peoples Report (2009) observed that free-market economies have devastated Indigenous peoples worldwide……What is going on with the forced closure of Indigenous communities and the driving of Aboriginal people from their traditional lands has all the hallmarks of a land grab – rolling back the hard won recognition of land rights and native title in Australia.

Australia’s First Nations peoples and their supporters are coming together in unprecedented numbers to fight back against community closures and policies that foster cultural genocide and disempowerment.

Racist land grab  Stand against forced closures of Aboriginal communities! The Guardian Len Waster, 24 June 15  The Abbott Liberal-National government wants to shut down 150 Indigenous communities in remote Australia. Its actions threaten to leave some of Australia’s most vulnerable people without water, electricity or basic services. The remote or homeland communities that are under threat allow Aboriginal people to live on their traditional country, where they can sustain their language, their spiritual connection to land and their culture.

They are among the more than 1,200 small, discrete Indigenous communities in regional and remote Australia, which present policies place under threat of eventual closure and forced eviction.

As long as there are adequate services people experience better health and wellbeing in their homeland communities than when living in larger townships, where social dysfunction and disadvantage are often prevalent. Continue reading

June 24, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Solar panels with battery storage: Western Australia’s White Gum Valley project

solar White Gum Valley WAGreen energy for White Gum Valley development ‘an Australian first’, to benefit residents and investors, ABC News By Kathryn Diss, 19 June 15 A new residential complex south of Perth will feature solar panels and battery storage technology, providing financial benefits for tenants and investors.

Landcorp’s White Gum Valley project will include apartments, townhouses, maisonettes and single home sites, housing more than 150 people on the former Kim Beazley school site.

The WA Government said the use of renewable energy technology would cut energy and water bills by about $1,200 a year for tenants in the complex, which will feature a demonstration housing project managed as a strata development………

Overcoming barriers to solar technology Ms Green said the new business model overcomes several barriers which have prevented solar technology from taking off on strata developments.
“Barriers include getting approvals from Western Power, designing the system so that it is compliant with strata laws is really important, and also designing a system which is going to charge no more than what [residents] would pay from Synergy,” she said.

What has been designed here is something that should be affordable to the Gen Y marketplace
Ms Green said the project would be the focus of a four-year study at Curtin University into low carbon living, and is confident it will succeed.

“People are willing to buy apartments that perhaps cost a bit more, but the pay-off is they don’t pay the electricity bill,” Ms Green said………

June 20, 2015 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | Leave a comment


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