Australian news, and some related international items

Toro Energy’s CEO touting for investment in uranium industry, despite its slump

Guthrie poisoned-chalice-3Australia has ‘welcome mat’ out for uranium investments, Australian Mining
3 March, 2015 Vicky Validaki Toro Energy, the company vying to develop Western Australia’s first uranium mine, says Australia is in the perfect position to drive a new era or uranium exports to China and India.

Addressing the annual PDAC conference in Toronto overnight, Toro’s managing director Dr Vanessa Guthrie told delegates that emerging powerhouse economies like India and China would drive a massive demand for uranium over the next decade……..

Guthrie said all these new reactors will need Australian uranium, and that the country had a welcome mat out for uranium development and fresh investment in the sector……

But the lagging price of the commodity since the Fukushima tragedy in 2011 has worked to hamstring investment, and drove nuclear sentiment to an all-time low…….

March 4, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s success in Renewable Energy Target – and the present climate of uncertainty

How does Australia’s Renewable Energy Target compare globally, with other countries’ mechanisms to encourage uptake of renewable energy?

The RET has been extremely successful at getting the least-cost renewables into the grid. It’s been copied around the world. It’s something I think Australia as a whole should be really proud of. It’s a really clever way to maximise renewable energy uptake because it is a meritocracy, rather than just having a feed-in tariff for the fixed rate, and there is constant competition to deliver the lowest-cost energies. The UK system was until recently a copy of ours; and a similar system is used by a number of US states…….

people cannot be certain at the moment that the RET will still be binding on those liable under it, so people pull back from investing. Too risky
Q&A: The renewables climate in Australia and her neighbours, Climate Spectator PETER COWLING 27 FEB, Peter Cowling, GE’s general manager of renewable sales in the Asia Pacific region, gives his take on who is getting renewables policy right.

GEreports: What makes some countries better at uptake of renewables than others? Continue reading

February 28, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Rio Tinto follows BHP’s example – restructuring – cost cutting

Rio Tinto reveals plans to ‘simplify’ company, Australian Mining  27 February, 2015 Vicky Validakis“…….The move comes after an Australian Mining exclusive last week which flagged the company was set to engage a heavy cost cutting campaign, involving renegotiation of service contracts, reduction of scheduled maintenance task times, and changes to staff pay .

An internal document leaked to Australian Mining  showed Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Andrew Harding had outlined a series of cost cutting requirements, including an immediate hiring freeze, which he said must be performed to maintain business success.

The move by Rio to simplify its business comes after BHP Billiton undertook a similar simplification process last year…..”

February 28, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australian government quietly subverting the Climate Change Authority

How the government is sneakily taking over the Climate Change Authority, Crikey, 

MARCUS PRIEST | FEBRUARY 27, 2015  (-subscribers only)

February 27, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Nuclear power as cure for climate change does not stand up to scrutiny

Nuclear Industry On Trial? Scott Ludlam Hopes SoNew Matilda, 26 Feb 15 “…….Were it not for the immense risk posed by global warming, it seems likely that the nuclear industry would have run entirely out of friends by now. Thus, one useful service the Royal Commission could provide would be to take a hard look at the role nuclear energy can provide as climate change tightens its grip and the movement to divest and phase out fossil fuels gains welcome pace.

This is a serious question and one that should not be dismissed lightly.

Advocates point to a technology with a half-century performance record of bulk electricity generation with relatively low greenhouse gas emissions, and argue that the climate crisis demands that all low-carbon options should be on the table.

Unfortunately – for the industry at least – the case for nuclear playing a major role in the transition to a low carbon economy is shot to pieces on arguments of cost, risk, timing, competition and scale.

Nuclear energy produces a declining share of global commercial primary energy production at 4.4 per cent. Scaling up by enough to make a major impact on energy supply while closing first and second-generation plants would require the construction of thousands of large reactors in the next few decades; a construction schedule vastly in excess of anything attempted before, at astronomical cost, against a backdrop of growing global insecurity and instability and widespread community rejection of nuclear technology in favour of renewables………

February 27, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

New South Wales fight by Aboriginals to save their heritage from coal mining

Aboriginal group says it is fighting coal mine for its heritage, ABC Radio 26 Feb 15 

By Emma Brown Aboriginal people in the north-west of New South Wales say they are fighting back against a coal mine that is threatening their heritage.

At a Meet the Candidates forum in Breeza, the Gomeroi people put it to the sitting State Government member that assessments of the mine area had found 11 significant sites, but since then 10 had been disturbed or destroyed.

The Shenhua Watermark mine has been approved by the independent NSW Planning Assessment Commission and is now before the Federal Government, where the water trigger legislation may come into play.

CEO of the Red Chief Land Council, Toni Comber, said the Gomeroi people had been prevented from going on country and performing ceremony.

She said the community opposition to the mine had united farmers and Aboriginal groups…….

February 27, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia a partner in the nuclear injustice done to the Marshall Islands

For Australia, this is anything but a quaint and esoteric legal exercise, and we are anything but an innocent bystander.  Successive Australian governments pay lip service to the goal of a nuclear weapons free world, while simultaneously giving support to US nuclear weapons, under the extraordinarily foolish notion that they protect us.  Goliath, with his genocidal weapons, has our unbridled loyalty and complicity.  We are in fact part of the problem.

justiceNuclear nations in the dock By Sue Wareham , 23 February 2015  A little known court case initiated by an inconspicuous Pacific Island state might not seem very newsworthy, but when there’s a David and Goliath element involving some of the world’s most powerful nations, with implications for Australia, we should take notice.

The small nation state of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, with a population of just over 50,000 people, is taking the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).   What do this motley lot have in common?  Between them, they possess the world’s 16,300 most destructive, horrific and indiscriminate weapons, nuclear weapons.

No nation has a stronger moral claim to call the nuclear armed states to account than the Marshall Islands. Continue reading

February 25, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Time that Australia rethought the nuclear nexus between India, Australia, Japan and the United States.

Undermining Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Energy and Security Politics in the Australia-India-Japan-U.S. Nuclear Nexus 核不拡散の土台崩し オーストラリア·インド·日本·米国間におけるエネルギーと安全保障政策 The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 46, No. 2, November 1, 2014 Adam Broinowski  

The inception of the U.S.-led nuclear alliance system From the world’s first atomic test on 16 July 1945, uranium, nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons have played a key role in the US-led alliance system. As the former axis powers of Japan, West Germany and Italy as well as other strategically important territories such as South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan, were incorporated in a US foreign policy designed to confront and contain the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, nuclear weapons were deployed with the justification of being necessary to deter large Communist conventional forces……..

As nuclear intimidation continued, and as other nations sought to gain ‘parity’, the global nuclear industry grew. It was clearly understood in these early decades that the dual-use of nuclear materials in nuclear energy generation and nuclear weapons served to establish and maintain national influence in the international arena. Since 1945, the supply and procurement of uranium together with coal (for steel production) has been a good indicator of a nation’s capacity to both rapidly increase its energy production with the potential to produce munitions and, for those states already with the capacity, to produce and enhance a nuclear weapons arsenal. High-energy power generation was an index of a nation’s war-making potential underlining the link between mining and militarisation.

In the following I seek to explain why and how the Australian government in 2014 has concluded a uranium trade deal with India that is in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by tracing the development of a nuclear nexus between India, Australia, Japan and the United States. Just as it was in the early cold war, this trade in nuclear materials is informed by interlocking and mutually reinforcing economic and geostrategic interests that have long undermined international disarmament initiatives. I argue that changing climatic conditions caused by emissions intensive energy production, however, demand a fundamental re-thinking of this paradigm.

Crisis and Response in the post-2011 nuclear industry……….

February 25, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Opportunities for jobs and TAFE in renewable energy in New South Wales

green-collargreensSmTAFE key for new renewable energy industries, says Brown  Maitland Mercury  By NICK BIELBY Feb. 24, 2015,

Manufacturing products and equipment for the renewable energy sector could combat the rising unemployment rate in the Hunter Valley, Greens candidate for Maitland John Brown says. He said TAFE could be the place to train employees for work in the new industry.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that unemployment reached 11.4 per cent in the Hunter, outside Newcastle, last month – almost double the state ­average of 6.3 per cent. This was a rise from 7.1 per cent in January, 2014.

Greens reveal plans for Hunter beyond coal | VIDEO

Mr Brown said the Greens’ plan to strengthen TAFE would help to address the rising unemployment rate in the Hunter. But he said it was equally important to develop an alternative industry to replace jobs in mining, one of the region’s largest employers, so training could be targeted.

Mr Brown said manufacturing for renewable energy projects, such as solar panels, could become a thriving industry in the Hunter.

“There has been a downturn in the coal industry and I think that will be a long-term downturn,” he said.

 “We have a good workforce and we need a plan to transition that workforce into industries like renewable energy, which could possibly create thousands of jobs.”……


February 25, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

New South Wales Labor wasting their chances fighting the Greens

NSW Labor has to go Green or go home NSW Labor has historically turned its attention to competing with the Greens, giving the Liberals a free run.



Labor is back in power in Queensland by the tiniest of margins on the strength of Green preferences in nine critical seats across the state, from Barron River in far-north Queensland, to Brisbane Central, to Springwood on the Gold Coast. (subscribers only)

February 25, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

India is not accountable for what uses it has for Australia’s uranium

missile-risingflag-indiaUndermining Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Energy and Security Politics in the Australia-India-Japan-U.S. Nuclear Nexus 核不拡散の土台崩し オーストラリア·インド·日本·米国間におけるエネルギーと安全保障政策 The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 46, No. 2, November 1, 2014 Adam Broinowski 

“……….Ten of India’s twenty nuclear facilities are beyond the regulatory authority of the IAEA and India only selectively recognises IAEA safeguards for specific foreign supplied reactors and facilities. India also refuses to submit to suppliers inventory reports and accounting processes for nuclear material flowing through the nuclear cycle. As the IAEA is not able to fully inspect India’s dual-purpose (civilian and military) indigenous reactors and facilities for reprocessing, enrichment, retransfers to third countries, research and development or the production of tritium (used as a trigger for weapons), India is not fully accountable to either the IAEA or the supplier nation with which it has a bilateral agreement with in-built IAEA norms. Continue reading

February 25, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

The Adelaide Advertiser a not very credible mouthpiece for the nuclear lobby

Dennis Matthews 23 Feb 15 It’s that time of year again and we have a new addition to an already overcrowded programme.

The Shady Nuclear Circus (The Advertiser, 23/2/15), ably assisted by the well-known Liberal-Labor comedy duopoly, bravely ignoring the Zwitkowski flop under the direction of John Howard but encouraged by their reception in Fisher is back in town.

news-nukeIt’s main attractions are the publicly funded Weatherill command performance and a previously unknown company of self-styled expert clowns who are reputedly not in it for any profit.

Emboldened by his dubious success in Fisher, the cash-strapped Weatherill appears to be trying to woo the public by a full-frontal assault on their sensibility, apparently in the hope of distracting them from more serious deficiencies in his other ventures.

Fortunately there are much more professional and enjoyable performers, such as the Sunny Energy Ensemble, which make the Shady Nuclear Circus irrelevant.


February 23, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Private funding of science research adds to decline of Australia’s science credibility

Respected ecologist Dr Alec Costin concerned by state of scientific endeavour in Australia
One of the nation’s most respected ecologists says he is worried about the state of scientific endeavour in Australia. …

“Politicians now are using science as a means for getting themselves re-elected, and they are using scientific information as a means for getting themselves elected, and it is rarely in the complete context,” he said. “It is rather sensational and without going into detail I think the reality of climatic change is being used far more indiscriminately at a political level than it should be.”

Dr Costin says he also has deep reservations about the growing trend in Australia towards privately funded research by the CSIRO and universities….

February 23, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Australia’s anti coal and gas activists are within their rights to claim charity status

Anti-mining activists say they are within their rights to claim charity status ABC Rural By Babs McHugh  19 Feb 15, “……. Anti-mining and gas group says it’s fighting for all Australians

Phil Laird is the national coordinator of Lock The Gate, an anti-coal mining and anti-coal seam gas industries group which has charitable status.

“What we’re doing is we’re supporting legitimate business such as those on the Liverpool Plains,” he said, in reference to the Shenhua Watermark coal mine that has recently been given the green light by the New South Wales Government.

“We’re working on behalf of Australians.”

Mr Laird said LTG members were furious about the call by the NSW Minerals Council to strip them of their charity status.

“What Lock the Gate does is provide an umbrella group for community groups that need a voice at the national and political level,” he said.

Although the group has long been protesting at the site of mining projects that have passed all state and federal requirements and criteria, Mr Laird is adamant they are within the original spirit of the definition of a charity, which is to “do no harm”.

“It’s the laws that need to change,” he said. “What we’re advocating for is for local communities, to protect their homes and their families and their livelihoods.

“We do that every day and anyone that thinks protecting farmland and water aquifers is doing harm is obviously on the wrong page.”

February 20, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

As Australia phases out renewable energy, UK phases out coal

UK to phase out coal as Australia phases out renewable energy, Business Spectator TRISTAN EDIS  16 FEB, 

The leaders of the UK’s three main political parties – Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats – have chosen to put efforts to address climate change above politics.

Prime Minister David Cameron from the Tories, Labour leader Ed Miliband and the Deputy PM and leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg have put out a joint statement – which echoes comments by US President Barack Obama – declaring that climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world. According to the statement they argue climate change is not only a threat to the environment but, also, “national and global security, to poverty eradication and economic prosperity”.

The agreement is a major step forward because, while it might be vague on policy detail, it sets out some long-term principles that are critical to support investor confidence in low carbon energy infrastructure involving billion-dollar price tags and with lifetimes of several decades. It makes a stark contrast with Australia where investors (other than mums and dads buying solar systems) have abandoned power generation as a result of Tony Abbott tearing up the political consensus that had been achieved on pricing carbon and the Renewable Energy Target.

The agreement sets out that, irrespective of who wins the UK election in May, all three parties agree to:

  1. Phase out the use of coal in power generation (unless emissions are captured and stored) while accelerating the development of an energy efficient, low carbon economy;
  2. Continue the practice as set out under the UK’s Climate Change Act of having an independent institution (the Climate Change Committee) plan out carbon pollution budget constraints between now and 2050 with the aim of achieving an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.
  3. Seek a legally binding international agreement to limit temperature rise below 2 degrees………..

Just recently the chief executive of the Australian division of major global bank BNP Paribas commented on Australia’s rewind of climate policies: “It makes some international investors more reserved about coming to Australia under those circumstances.”

As an illustration, when the Abbott Government announced that its review of the Renewable Energy Target would put everything on the table, including complete abolition of the scheme 15 years short of its end date, it left investors stunned. The head of the review, Dick Warburton, then made the extraordinary statement to media outlets that he would actively consider the possibility of not just abolishing the scheme, but also leaving investors in existing plant worth billions of dollars without compensation. For the investors involved this represented a loss of 50% of their revenue, a result far worse than anything proposed under the original mining tax put forward in the Henry Review……..

the safest thing for investors to do is sit on their hands or look elsewhere, to places like the UK.

Follow @TristanEdis

February 18, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 687 other followers