Australian news, and some related international items

Submissions will challenge Western Australia’s EPA report approving Kintyre uranium project

New WA uranium mine given environmental approval amid concerns, Australian Mining  29 July, 2014 Ben Hagemann The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Western Australia has given conditional approval to the proposed Kintyre uranium mine in the Little Sandy Desert.

Canadian-based mining company Cameco plans to truck uranium oxide from 270 kilometres north east of Newman to the Port of Adelaide. The EPA’s report is open for a two-week appeal period starting Monday, July 28, and closing on August 11……….

Environmental groups have voiced concerns about impacts on the nearby Karlamilyi National Park, with the Conservation Council expressing their disappointment with the EPA approval.

Conservation Council spokesperson Mia Pepper said most of the EPAs conditions were administrative, and that environmental protections have been deferred to the Department of Mines and Petroleum.

“In this case, that includes mine closure, rehabilitation and tailings management and those are the aspects where uranium mines have failed in Australia to deliver good environmental outcomes,” she said.

“That’s something that we think the EPA should be looking at more closely.”

Pepper said the Conservation Council will make a submission regarding the EPAs report, and will support other organisations wishing to do the same.

July 30, 2014 Posted by | legal, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Questionable EPA approval for Cameco’s proposed Kyntyre uranium mine

questionIncreased scrutiny needed as EPA radioactive rubber stamp fails the nuclear test National and state environment groups have called for a dedicated public inquiry into plans for increased uranium mining in WA following an EPA recommendation to conditionally approve the proposed Kintyre mine next to Kalamilyi National Park in the Pilbara.

“The proposal to mine uranium five hundred metres from a creek system that is part of a network of significant waterways in a national park is reckless and should not be approved,” said CCWA campaigner Mia Pepper.

“This polluting plan would put great pressure on one of WA’s special places – our largest national park – and would impact on scarce water resources and a number of significant and vulnerable species including the bilby, marsupial mole and rock wallaby.

The approval recommendation follows recent disturbing allegations that former mine owner Rio Tinto made secret payments of around $21 million to silence Aboriginal concerns and opposition while it negotiated the project’s sale to current owner Cameco.

“Uranium mining is a high risk, low return activity where the proven risks far outweigh any promised rewards,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“Uranium is currently trading at US$28/lb. Cameco has stated it will not mine unless the uranium prices reaches upwards of US$75/lb. The EPA is recommending a green light for yellowcake when the company has stated the finances and the plan don’t stack up.

“Uranium mining poses unique risks and long term human and environmental hazards.  It demands the highest level of scrutiny and assessment – instead we have a lower order EPA report based on the hope of ‘satisfactory implementation by the proponent of the recommended conditions’. This inadequate approach is out of step with community expectations and fails to reflect the uranium sectors proven history of leaks and failure.”

“In the shadow of Fukushima, a continuing nuclear crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium, Bill Marmion and Colin Barnett should put this controversial and contaminating sector before the people and under the spotlight via a public inquiry.”

For comment contact: Dave Sweeney 0408 317 812 or Mia Pepper 0415 380 808

July 28, 2014 Posted by | environment, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Doubts about legal advice to Aborigines about Lake Disappointment mining deal

justiceLegal advice questioned controversial mining deal: July 15, 2014 Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie More legal advice has emerged questioning the process that led to a controversial deal between a West Australian aboriginal corporation and a mining company.

Fairfax Media has obtained advice from a third in-house lawyer for the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation which cast doubt over the process that lead to a deal with Reward Minerals to mine a Martu sacred site in outback WA called Lake Disappointment.

At the weekend, Fairfax Media revealed how two other in-house lawyers for the Western Desert corporation wrote an explosive July, 2011 memo warning that a soon-to-be signed deal with Reward had “no validity”, in part because the corporation’s board and executives had, in their opinion, not acted in the best interests of the Martu people.

A 2009 email reveals that a separate in-house lawyer for the corporation also raised concerns about the Martu people not having given “proper informed consent” to an in-principle agreement signed with Reward to mine Lake Disappointment a year earlier.

In March, 2009, the Western Desert corporation’s then in-house lawyer, Christina Araujo, emailed acting chief executive Tony Wright to advise that she was not “prepared to state that I believe WDLAC has the informed consent of the common law holders” because it could put her practising certificate at risk.

“Tony, further to our conversation on the 6th of March, I am confirming in writing concerns I have in relation to the Reward negotiations,” Ms Araujo wrote. “Apart from my personal observations, I have also had discussions with a number of others who were also of the view that proper informed consent is or may be lacking.

“Going through the files, it appears Katherine Hill [another legal adviser], on numerous occasions provided advice on proper informed consent and it is noted in a file note dated 16/10/2007 that she spoke to Joe Procter and Clinton Wolf about her concern that people did not seem to understand there was a mining proposal over Lake Disappointment.

“It does not appear in the files that the matter was discussed in detail with the common law holders … it is an issue for WDLAC if we do not have informed consent for the Reward matter. Any agreement which may result may be invalid.”

Mr Procter was a consultant helping the Western Desert corporation negotiate the initial 2008 deal and Mr Wolf was then the corporation’s chief executive.

Ms Araujo’s March, 2009 email came at the same time the Native Title Tribunal heard Martu elders testify about the cultural significance of the Lake Disappointment site.

The tribunal was asked to rule on Reward’s proposal after relations between the mining company and the Western Desert corporation stalled in mid-2008 amid an argument over legal costs. In a historic ruling, the tribunal rejected Reward’s bid on the basis of Lake Disappointment’s cultural importance to the Martu people. It was the first time the tribunal had refused a mining company’s application.

But, as reported by Fairfax Media at the weekend, the Western Desert corporation altered it stance on the Reward proposal in 2011, despite strong doubts from another set of in-house lawyers about the negotiation process not being conducted in the best interests of the Martu people.

Ms Araujo’s successors as the Western Desert corporation’s in-house lawyers warned that the Reward negotiation process had in their opinion put the corporation in breach of most of its legal obligations as the trustee body for Martu people.

In a January, 2011 announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Reward revealed it had in late 2010 approached the Western Desert corporation to re-open talks over Lake Disappointment.

On April 1, 2011, Reward announced to the ASX: “Reward has appointed Azure Capital and its affiliate Indigenous Investment Management (IIM) as advisers to assist in discussions with the Martu traditional owners.”

Company documents show at the time of this announcement that IIM’s shareholders and directors included former Western Desert chief executive Mr Wolf, senior Azure Capital executives and Warren Mundine, who was last year appointed as the federal government’s top indigenous adviser.

Another shareholder at this time was the Western Desert corporation’s chief financial officer Mr Wright.

Mr Mundine has confirmed that he was not personally involved in the negotiations nor benefited from the deal.

Western Desert corporation chief executive Noel Whitehead and Mr Wolf said external legal advisers were engaged in 2011 to ensure the deal was done properly and fairly.

Reward this week rejected any inference its negotiations over Lake Disappointment were unfair. It said independent legal and financial advisers were involved and great care had been taken to treat the Martu people with respect.

July 17, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Regulators to decide on Cameco’s Kintyre uranium mine, but not economically viable now

Cameco: Australia Regulator to Rule on Uranium Mine Within Weeks By Stephen Bell Capiyal Gr. 16 July 14 PERTH--Canada’s Cameco Corp. (CCJ) expects Australian regulators to decide on its proposed Kintyre uranium mine within weeks, but will likely delay construction after prices of the nuclear fuel slumped to nine-year lows.

Brian Reilly, managing director of Cameco Australia, said Wednesday he expects Western Australia state’s Environmental Protection Authority to release a report into the project soon.

“The EPA is sitting on the report and recommendations–we anticipate seeing that released publicly within the next few weeks,” Mr Reilly told The Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of a uranium conference in Perth.

The regulator will make a recommendation to state and federal ministers, who will then make a final decision on whether the project can go ahead.

Mr. Reilly said Cameco hopes to “be in a position by the end of this year to have this project approved.”

However, Cameco would need uranium prices to recover sharply before starting construction of the mine. It would also look to discover more uranium reserves at the mine site.

In mid-2012, Cameco deferred development of Kintyre due to a collapse in the uranium price in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. At the time, Cameco said the project likely wouldn’t be viable if uranium prices fell below US$67 a pound.

Spot uranium prices are currently around US$28 a pound because of a slower-than expected restart of Japanese nuclear reactors idled soon after the Fukushima crisis. There has also been a build-up in global uranium inventories as nuclear facilities recycle more fuel……

July 17, 2014 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Greenhouse gases and ozone depletion are causing southwestern Australia’s long-term dry

climate-AustAustralia drying caused by greenhouse gases and ozone depletion Cp NOAA scientists have developed a new high-resolution climate model that shows southwestern Australia’s long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall is caused by increases in manmade greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion, according to research published today in Nature Geoscience. “This new high-resolution climate model is able to simulate regional-scale precipitation with considerably improved accuracy compared to previous generation models,” said Tom Delworth, a research scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., who helped develop the new model and is co-author of the paper. “This model is a major step forward in our effort to improve the prediction of regional climate change, particularly involving water resources.”

NOAA researchers conducted several climate simulations using this  to study long-term changes in rainfall in various regions across the globe. One of the most striking signals of change emerged over Australia, where a long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall has been observed over parts of southern Australia. Simulating natural and manmade climate drivers, scientists showed that the decline in rainfall is primarily a response to manmade increases in  as well as a thinning of the  caused by manmade aerosol emissions. Several natural causes were tested with the model, including volcano eruptions and changes in the sun’s radiation. But none of these natural climate drivers reproduced the long-term observed drying, indicating this trend is due to human activity.

Southern Australia’s decline in rainfall began around 1970 and has increased over the last four decades. The model projects a continued decline in winter rainfall throughout the rest of the 21st century, with significant implications for regional water resources. The drying is most severe over southwest Australia where the model forecasts a 40 percent decline in average rainfall by the late 21st century.

“Predicting potential future changes in , including drought, are an immense societal challenge,” said Delworth. “This new climate model will help us more accurately and quickly provide resource planners with environmental intelligence at the regional level. The study of Australian drought helps to validate this new model, and thus builds confidence in this model for ongoing studies of North American drought.”

July 14, 2014 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Conflict of interest: Abbott’s Aboriginal man Warren Mundine and the Martu people’s missing $millions


For Mundine, today’s revelations raise questions about his business judgment – and specifically about his company’s role in the Reward Minerals deal. How could anyone believe that the Martu people were being properly represented by the Western Desert corporation during negotiations when one of its top executives had an undisclosed interest in a predetermined outcome?

The sorry tale of Lake Disappointment, the missing mining millions and Warren Mundine, SMH. July 10, 2014  Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie “……once again, he [Darren Farmer] was doing what he had been told not to do. This time he was asking questions. He strode towards Biljabu, who was deputy chairman of the [Western Desert] Corporation. Where, he demanded to know, was the paperwork? And why couldn’t he or the others see it?

The paperwork in question outlined details of the deals Western Desert had struck with mining companies to allow them to dig on the 136,000 square kilometres of resource-rich Pilbara that are the Martu’s traditional lands.

These deals had brought about $50million into the corporation, a non-profit prescribed body corporate that is meant to use the money to benefit all Martu. But little of the money had gone into improving Martu townships.

Farmer kept on with his questions. Why had the Western Desert corporation spent $7million in four years on its handful of employees and paid directors more than $1million? How had well-connected corporate advisers pocketed millions, while much of the Martu mob lived in poverty? Why had the views of senior elders on mining proposals been ignored? Everyone at the meeting that day could tell it was not going to end well.

There are conflicting accounts of what happened next……….

Heated debate – and sometimes violence – is nothing new at indigenous land-council meetings across Australia. These are the forums where the future clashes with the past; where members of some of Australia’s most impoverished communities weigh up the riches that mining can deliver against the cultural cost of digging up their sacred sites.

But what was different about that meeting last July was that the deals at the centre of all the trouble had been brokered by companies owned by the biggest names in Australia’s indigenous community, including the nation’s most influential Aboriginal, Warren Mundine.

The accountant Dalgleish, true to stereotype, was a stickler for detail and decided to dig further into Wolf and Wright’s activities. He found that in mid 2008 they had separately bought more than $1million worth of Perth property. This was close to the time Wright joined WDLAC and the Rio Tinto $21million deal was done.

Although he had no proof that the property purchases involved money from Rio Tinto, Dalgleish was intrigued by the confluence of events and brought them to the attention of WDLAC’s board. On May 7, 2009, Dalgleish wrote a confidential memo to WDLAC’s chairman in which he wondered how Wolf could have approved such an “outrageously excessive fee” as the $2.35million paid to Procter.

A day later, Wright paid out Dalgleish’s contract and asked him to leave. He was able to do this because he had become the corporation’s acting chief executive following Wolf’s departure, a promotion that had bumped his salary to $250,000.

Three days after his departure, Dalgleish reported his concerns to the WA police fraud squad, which in turn contacted Western Desert corporation. According to the police file, detectives were assured by Western Desert in September 2009 that Procter no longer acted for the corporation, and that an “independent third party” would examine the issues and provide recommendations.

A WA police spokeswoman says police never received a copy of any third-party review.

‘‘The matter is currently filed pending further contact from WDLAC as the complainant,’’ she says.

Procter is bewildered as to why anyone would seek police attention over the Rio deal. His company, he says, acted with integrity and its role was supported by the Martu people, who were $20million richer because of IndiEnergy’s involvement.

Dalgleish also contacted the federal regulator, the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, which is meant to ensure good governance and financial probity at the more than 2500 indigenous bodies across Australia. ORIC also decided not to investigate.

Meanwhile, in early 2009, the Australian Uranium Association – the peak body for uranium miners – announced the members of its indigenous dialogue group. Wolf and Mundine were among those named to promote the potential for uranium mining to enrich indigenous communities.

At the same time, Procter was busy expanding the reach of his company, IndiEnergy. He began appointing ‘‘special advisers’’ from the mining, legal and financial worlds. By far his most important appointment was that of Mundine as a special adviser and advisory board member.

The two had known each other since 2004 when the Howard government appointed them as members of the body that replaced ATSIC.

By the time Abbott announced Mundine as head of his Indigenous Advisory Council in September 2013, he was a close business associate of both Wolf and Procter.

Australia may be a big country, but the indigenous business and politics scene is small and replete with overlapping interests. It was only a matter of time before one of Mundine’s business relationships would clash with his quasi-ministerial role.

Mundine’s potential for a conflict of interest became a reality in February when Procter announced IndiEnergy had taken a stake in an indigenous company whose co-owner, Larrakia Development Corporation, is actively seeking Commonwealth support.

Procter highlighted Mundine in the February announcement of his new venture, praising him and Abbott for promoting indigenous business opportunities. ‘‘Skin in the game is the only way indigenous organisations can attract the right people to assist them in reaching their commercial dreams,’’ Procter said.

But having skin in the game means you risk losing some. And this is the risk that emerged for Mundine when a company he part-owned became involved in the Western Desert corporation’s most contentious mining deal…………

For Mundine, today’s revelations raise questions about his business judgment – and specifically about his company’s role in the Reward Minerals deal. How could anyone believe that the Martu people were being properly represented by the Western Desert corporation during negotiations when one of its top executives had an undisclosed interest in a predetermined outcome?……………

In December 2011, Reward announced it would pay the Western Desert corporation $500,000 upon the signing of an agreement. Another $500,000 would come when mining began and there would also be royalties of 1.25per cent on potash sales. This money was meant to be held in trust for all Martu.

But the biggest prize was Reward’s issuing of 9.5million share options to the Western Desert corporation and Poynton’s Azure Capital, which was in effect the parent company of Indigenous Investment Management. The value of the options at the time was almost $10 million. The Martu will get millions more options as the project progresses.

With money now in the bank, the Western Desert corporation went on a spending spree. Despite its own rules banning the handing out of funds without the approval of all members, the board decided on February 16, 2012, to use the first $500,000 from Reward and $100,000 from the corporation’s operating budget to pay 30 select elders $20,000 each.

Five board members, including Biljabu’s brother, received $20,000 each. Another recipient had just finished his term as a director, and the parents of three board members were also paid. Wolf says ensuring money is properly handled is easier said than done. ‘‘Some Martu live on $9000 a year and so when money hits the account you say ‘that should go to education or something’ but it’s hard when you live in poverty.’’

Still, Farmer says many Martu people are bewildered by their board’s capitulation over Lake Disappointment. ‘‘Why did we fight so hard, only to let it go?’’

So where has the federal regulator been in all this? ORIC has long been aware of governance issues at Western Desert corporation. In 2010, it found the Western Desert corporation had failed to keep proper records, paid money to the board’s chair and deputy in breach of its rules and provided cars to directors – including Biljabu – without member approval. But no disciplinary action was taken against individuals responsible.

Farmer’s fight for answers has taken a toll. ‘‘I’ve been isolated, lost sleep, become ill and [been] made out to be the troublemaker who is stopping people getting their money,’’ he says.

Meanwhile, he says, the Martu communities have not benefited as much as they should have from the mining deals. ‘‘Go out into the communities and there is f— all to show for all the millions.’’………:




July 12, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, secrets and lies, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Proposal for Nuclear Waste Dump on Aboriginal Land in Western Australia

WASTES-1Nuclear dump plan for desert MICHAEL DULANEY The West Australian July 6, 2014, A traditional owner in the northern Goldfields wants to house a proposed nuclear waste dump on land in the Gibson Desert to help develop the region’s economy.

Kanpa community chairman Preston Thomas has seized on the Commonwealth dumping Muckaty Station as the site for a Federal nuclear waste repository.

It is part of his vision to provide biofuel to the Ngaanyatjarra Lands and develop agriculture around the remote Kanpa Aboriginal community, about 900 km north-east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

The Northern Territory station was withdrawn last month after a Federal Court case and division between Aboriginal groups in the region who claim they were not consulted properly.

The Federal Government is looking for an alternative site for Australia’s first radioactive waste dump.

Kanpa’s representative body the Pira Kata Aboriginal Corporation, chaired by Mr Thomas, has applied for a native title sublease of about 500sqkm between Kanpa and the Great Central Road.

Mr Thomas wants this area to be considered for the facility, which requires an area of about 3sqkm – about the size of two football fields……..Mr Thomas has been in discussions for the project with AgGrow Energy Resources since 2010, after the company’s involvement in a similar pilot project in the Pilbara………Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the Northern Land Council, which represented traditional owner interests at Muckaty Station, had been given three months to find an alternative site.

If the process was not concluded by September, a nationwide tender would be conducted, with “preliminary discussions” already under way.

July 7, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, wastes, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s changes to Aboriginal Heritage Act will benefit miners, disadvantage Aborigines

handsoffAboriginal Heritage Act changes help miners, but do little to protect sacred sites: Greens ABC News By Katrin Long 12 Jun 2014 The Greens have raised concerns over a WA Government proposal to amend parts of the Aboriginal Heritage Act, which sets out the way in which sacred places and objects should be preserved.

The Act has not had any major changes since it was introduced 42 year ago.

One of the changes would see control of major decisions regarding potential and established heritage sites handed from a committee to a single CEO. The Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) has said the proposed changes would improve efficiency in the mining and energy sector.

Greens MP Robin Chapple said the changes would aid mining companies, but would constitute a “complete desecration” of an Act that has already been watered down since its inception.

“They’ve taken away what was left of a shell of an Act and just trashed it,” he said…..

June 13, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Uranium miners and others will have to deal with some very savvy Aboriginal landowners in the Kimberley

handsoffProtests, jailing pay off as elder finally sees native title granted VICTORIA LAURIE AND PAIGE TAYLOR THE AUSTRALIAN MAY 31, 2014 JOHN Watson stood on an Aboriginal picket line at Noonkanbah 36 years ago opposing the mining industry and earned himself a place in Australia’s land rights ­history. The respected Kimberley elder vividly remembers the drilling rigs advancing, the police convoy that held objectors back, and the ­moment when drilling began on sac­red ground at the remote Fitzroy Crossing cattle station.

The dispute had gathered pace after the land rights of Aborigines in the Northern Territory had been recognised in parliament in 1976, a development Mr Watson and other Noonkanbah protesters highlighted as they tried to block company AMEX at Pea Hill.
Mr Watson and others were eventually carted off to jail in Fitzroy Crossing, an experience he ­describes as terrifying……..

This week, Mr Watson took centre stage in a new chapter in the Kimberley’s land rights history.
He watched as state Attorney-General Michael Mischin and Federal Court officials handed nativ­e title rights over about 26,000sq  km of land to his Nyikina Mangala people.

Their land is a new frontier for exploration, mining and drilling. There are 96 pending and granted mineral titles and 20 pending and granted petroleum titles on it. Mr Watson said his people were willing to talk to miners and oil and gas companies but that did not mean the companies could have everything they wanted.

“The door is not open for mining, not open for mining but open to sit down and talk and get a good feeling,” he said. “We want to get a good outcome.”

Thursday’s determination means Western Australia has reached a landmark of one million square kilometres to have been recognised as Aboriginal land………..

The deal is likely to test the commitment of government and the indigenous group to broker joint land-use deals. Nyikina Mangala land is known to be rich in uranium, gold, copper and gas……..


May 31, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

No future in sight for Yeelirrie or Kintyre uranium mines, nor for Olympic dam expansion

text-uranium-hypeUranium fall dents Olympic outlook  BARRY FITZGERALD THE AUSTRALIAN MAY 27, 2014  BHP Billiton’s recasting of its ­expansion plans for its Olympic Dam copper/uranium mine in South Australia’s outback have been served up a new challenge — the collapse in uranium ­prices.

Spot uranium has fallen 30 per cent in the past 12 months to $US28.15 a pound, plunging most of the world’s uranium-only mines into losses. More telling has been the steady decline from the record price of $US137 a pound in mid-2007, due in part to the fall in demand in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

BHP dropped plans for a big-bang expansion of Olympic Dam in mid-2012, blaming the $30 billion cancellation on the over-heated resources sector and the country’s high-cost environment. Concerns about uranium’s outlook post-Fukushima was also a factor……….

When it shelved the big-bang expansion plan, BHP said it would investigate a less capital-intensive design, and one that drew on new mining and processing technologies to improve the economics of the project.

BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie also undertook in September to say more about plans for the expansion “within about a year’’. While that timing is almost up, BHP’s considerations of what the price slump means for the future of what is the world’s biggest uranium deposit makes its planning for an expansion all the more complex.

Like the rest of the industry, BHP will be pinning its hopes on the restart of nuclear power plants in Japan, and the forecast surge in China’s nuclear power industry, to eventually produce more sustainable prices — in the context of being able to make a profit from the material at any rate……..

“uranium prices continue to suffer downward pressure and we do not see any reason to expect improvement soon.’’ -Tim Gitzel, the chief executive of Canadian uranium giant Cameco, which owns two of the world’s biggest undeveloped uranium deposits in Western Australia — Yeelirrie and Kintyre.

That means that neither Yeelirrie, acquired from BHP, and Kintyre, acquired from Rio Tinto, are  about to be developed anytime soon…..

May 27, 2014 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

A sun smart school in Perth is tracking UV radiation

UV-radiationSt Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls the first in Australia to install UV meter RACHEL NORMAN PERTHNOW MAY 16, 2014  ST Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls is now the most sunsmart school in Australia. The Mosman Park school has become the first in the country to install a meter that tracks ultraviolet radiation from the sun. If the meter hits level 3 or above, students have to cover up.

The move is an attempt to mitigate the prevalence of Australia’s most common form of cancer.

The Cancer Council says almost 77,000 skin cancer cases are treated each year in WA alone. Mark Strickland, the Cancer Council of WA’s SunSmart manager, said installation of the meter on the school’s junior campus was a positive step towards reducing skin cancer in the community.

“It has been shown that reducing lifetime UV radiation goes a long way to reducing the risk of skin cancer,” he said.

“A UV meter is another way of reminding people that the sun’s radiation in WA is strong enough that they need sun protection.

“It’s a silent but constant reminder of the ever-present need to cover up.”

Andrea McNally, the head of Junior School at St Hilda’s, said childhood was a particularly important time to recognise the need to seek shade and form good habits for the future.

“Having the visual prompt of the UV meter has taught the students that it’s not the heat that determines danger, but the UV index; and hopefully that will create a lifelong awareness and a change in their attitudes,” she said.

Data from the UV meter will also be used as part of the junior school curriculum, with students from year 1 currently monitoring and recording data every day.

Australia’s first public UV meter was installed at Deep Water Point in Melville last year.

There is also a Cancer Council meter at the Surfing WA club house at Trigg Beach.

St Hilda’s year 6 pupil Angelique Preau said she and her fellow students were paying close attention to the meter – regardless of the sort of day it was.

“When it gets to 7 or more it’s bad and you have to go into the shade and/or put sunscreen on,” the 11-year-old said.

May 27, 2014 Posted by | health, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Solar power proving a good investment for Western Australians

map-WA-solarSolar Helps Delay New Power Station In Western Australia 26 May 14,  WA’s solar households and businesses are collectively generating as much power as a major traditional power station.    According to The West Australian’s Daniel Mercer, given forecasts from Synergy of a continuing increase in solar uptake, the State Government now says a new power station would not need to be constructed in the state until 2029.

    Synergy predicts there could be as much as 1500MW of solar capacity feeding into Western Australia’s electricity grid by 2020.
The rate that Western Australians have embraced solar is quite stunning. The numbers of solar power systems connected to the grid has grown from just three in June 2007 to 135,419 (Synergy customers) as of March 2014.
According to solar provider Energy Matters, a 5kW solar panel system installed in Perth can return a financial benefit of between $1,577 and $2,196 annually. In some cases, a system of this size can basically blow away an average household’s power bills.
Energy Matters’ Australian Solar Index estimates the internal rate of return of a system installed in Perth to be 17.8%; making it one of the best investments around.
However, as is the case in the rest of Australia, clouds are gathering on the horizon for WA’s solar industry and potential new solar households.  The Renewable Energy Target review is currently under way and concerns have been expressed regarding possible outcomes; including a gutting of subsidies.
Current support for acquiring systems can translate to thousands of dollars off the cost of going solar. The uncertainty surrounding the review means the best time to go solar in Western Australia could be right now.
Going solar in WA doesn’t necessarily mean a significant up-front financial outlay. Energy Matters offers a zero-deposit “Save As You Go” arrangement to eligible customers where monthly repayments can be less than what would otherwise be spent on mains-grid supplied electricity.

May 26, 2014 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | 1 Comment

Western Australian MP ‘s first speech in Parliament makes a strong call for renewable energy

Hughes: future in renewable energy By KAYLEIGH BRUCE May 19, 2014,  Member for Giles Eddie Hughes made his maiden speech before state parliament recently in which he called for greater federal investment into developing renewable energy in South Australia.

During his parliamentary debut, Mr Hughes focussed on the role renewable energy and mining could have in creating employment and economic growth in the region.


Mr Hughes said the electorate of Giles was already playing a role in wind energy production and noted Whyalla’s role in the manufacturing of wind tower parts by E & A Contractors.

However Mr Hughes said the city was also well-positioned to harness solar energy.

“What we are looking at now – and the process has started, but we have further to go – is developing and applying technology to capture the sun’s energy,” Mr Hughes said.

Mr Hughes took the opportunity to voice his passions to see the region’s role in producing renewable energy further developed.

“Manufacturing communities like Whyalla could increase tower production,” Mr Hughes said.

“Hubs, nacelles and blades are all imported; with investor certainty, local manufacturing facilities could be developed.

“If we captured the wind resource on the Eyre Peninsula and captured the manufacturing opportunities, it would be a big boost to employment.

“Rounding the numbers off, the stage development of 2000 megawatts on the Eyre Peninsula would mean the fabrication of 800 towers, 800 hubs, 800 nacelles and 2400 blades in addition to a wide range of job-generating ancillary services.”

 Mr Hughes called on the Abbott government to realise the future of renewable energy in Australia and back the research and development needed to shape the industry. “Companies in the past have expressed their willingness to invest in Australian manufacturing, but each time that desire has been undermined at a federal level, initially when the Howard government failed to increase the two per cent mandatory renewable energy target, and now with the Abbott government’s review headed up by a man who rejects the science behind global warming,” Mr Hughes said.

“A review held just 18 months after the last review found that the mandatory renewable energy target was working to deliver cost-effective clean energy.”

Mr Hughes said with the right support, South Australia could easily achieve outstanding renewable energy production results and be a model example of renewable energy supporting the mining industry. 

“The target to reach 33 per cent of the state’s electricity from renewables by 2020 is likely to be met within a year,” Mr Hughes said.



May 20, 2014 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Why the Walinu Martu People will do everything possible to prevent Toro Energy’s Wiluna Uranium project

handsoffWESTERN AUSTRALIA’S WILUNA MARTU CONDEMN EXPANSION OF URANIUM MINING PROJECT , InterContinental Cry, by  on May 7, 2014 In Western Australia, plans of expanding Toro Energy’s mine site into a much larger uranium mining wasteland–spanning 100km and two lake systems–has been condemned by elders of the Wiluna Martu people.

“The lives of not only our people today are at stake but the future of our people into time immemorial. This uranium mining if it goes ahead will spell the end of us as custodians of the land. It will make toxic the land, preventing us from caring for the land, it will poison the rivers that we swim in, drink and fish from,” said Wiluna Elder, Glen Cooke to The Stringer.

On March 25, Western Australia’s EPA made the Toro Wiluna uranium expansion project open for public review. Wongi anti-nuclear campaigner, Kylie Fitzwater, commented that Toro had a long way to go before gaining new approvals to expand their single-mine approved project. “The company needs to complete additional environmental management, mine closure, tailings management and transport plans for assessment before any mining can commence at the Wiluna site,” she said.

Included in the proposal, Toro Energy wants to double its water consumption and store radioactive mine waste from several mine sites in a Lake bed. The company’s new plan also involves four more deposits covering over one hundred kilometers – Lake Way, Centipede, Millipede and Lake Maitland, with longer term plans including mining an additional three deposits at Nowthanna, Dawson Hinkler and Firestrike – covering another one hundred kilometers in the other direction.

Stop the bull – the Wiluna uranium program

This region is also home to Western Australia’s largest uranium deposit at Yeelirrie, owned by the Canadian uranium mining giant, CAMECO. This project has been consistently opposed for forty years by Traditional Owners, now led by Kado Muir. Mr. Muir has said “The only safe place for uranium is in the ground, where it belongs. For 40 years my people have campaigned to protect Yeelirrie. We have walked this Country for thousands of years, it should not become Country that we fear to tred.”

While Toro’s original mine plan is expected to be operational next year, the traditional lands on which it is situated is covered by two native title claims at an advanced stage towards a consent determination of native title under the Native Title Act………

As the majority of uranium exploration and mining occurs on Indigenous lands all over the world, this project would continue the denial of the Walinu Martu Peoples right of free, prior and informed consent and their self-determination. They have particularly been striving for the right to negotiate with uranium explorers directly to ensure that their culture and rights are adequately protected.

As the first of Western Australia’s mining projects, the government and industry are hoping this will be the first of many. This is why, the Walinu MArtu People will do everything possible to prevent it.

May 9, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Accurately measuring the solar energy potential for South West Australia

South-west Australia’s potential solar output measured with accuracy Phys Org 7 May  by Rebecca Graham  Researchers have developed an algorithm that can be used to simulate the hour-by-hour power output of both photovoltaic and concentrated solar thermal power systems for any location in the south-west corner of Australia. The model is simple enough to run inside a web-browser by the general public and could be tailored to other regions around the world.

Led by Murdoch University’s Dean Laslett, an engineering PhD candidate, the research forms part of a series of studies originated by Sustainable Energy Now aimed at developing an accessible and interactive computer simulation of renewable energy power systems for the South-West Interconnected System (SWIS); WA’s main electricity grid.

As clouds affect how the three main components of  – direct, diffuse and reflected – reach the earth’s surface, the algorithm was developed through a series of calculations using seasonal rainfall patterns and the three solar radiation components; leading to estimates of daily and hourly cloudiness across the region.

“The seasonal rainfall pattern across WA generally decreases with distance from the coast, with a zone of high rainfall in the south-west corner and the Kimberley,” Mr Laslett says.

“Seasonal cloudiness follows the same pattern. Hence if the longitude and latitude of a location is converted into a distance along the coast-line and a distance inland, estimation of seasonal cloudiness can be simplified.

“An estimate of all three solar radiation components is [also] needed…………”Because the model can be used to estimate all three components of solar irradiance, it’s possible to change the location of one or several photovoltaic or concentrated solar thermal systems and get an idea of how overall energy generation might change.”

“Also because our model can run inside a web-browser, this ability becomes widely accessible to the general public … they can play around and see for themselves what a solar energy power system for the SWIS might look like.”

May 7, 2014 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | Leave a comment


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