Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Uranium companies rejoice, as universities and groups get out of fossil fuel investments?

pray-radDivestors painting themselves into the uranium corner, JAMES KIRBY THE AUSTRALIAN OCTOBER 11, 2014
SUDDENLY the urge to “divest” is reaching fever pitch. Inside a couple of weeks there has been more noise than we have had in years as universities, religious groups and super funds announce they are “getting out of polluters”.

Indeed, the ANU’s plan to ­divest itself of seven resource companies, including oil and gas major Santos, has been branded a “disgrace” by federal Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs.

Like most trends, this started in the US where a number of leading funds have been loudly exiting resource stocks. The rush reached something of a climax in recent weeks when the heirs of Standard Oil founder John D Rockefeller said they were getting out of oil.

Now Australia will mark a ­national “Divestment Day of Action” targeted largely at banks that invest in resources on October 18, an initiative backed by 350.org………

Uranium prices have staggered up off the floor in recent months at the same time as the divestment movement has gained attention worldwide……..http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/wealth/divestors-painting-themselves-into-the-uranium-corner/story-e6frgac6-1227086800152

October 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Australian National University divesting from fossil fuels, but not from uranium

ANU defends divestments, says fossil fuels companies must diversify into new energy, The Age Heath Aston, political correspondent October 13, 2014 – The head of the Australian National University has defended a decision to dump certain resources stocks from the university’s $1 billion investment portfolio on ethical grounds, saying fossil fuel-reliant companies will not survive the next 20 to 30 years unless they diversify into new energies……

ANU is the first Australian university to divest from fossil fuels but in the United States 19 universities have sold out of investments deemed unethical or a risk to the environment, including the prestigious Stanford University, which has purged its $US19 billion ($22 billion) investment fund. ANU modelled its socially responsible investment policy on that of Stanford.

Professor Young said there had been a “torrent of support” from students and the wider community.

“They have been saying ‘don’t back down’,” he said. “There is tremendous enthusiasm out there around environmental issues and investment.”

ANU Student Association president Cam Wilson said 82% of 2000 students polled before the university made its decision supported divestment.

In an opinion piece written for Fairfax Media, Professor Young, whose ocean research has resulted in his consulting to a range offshore gas and oil companies, questioned the short-term thinking of the divestment critics.

“What will our industries be in 20 or 30 years’ time?” he writes. “I am confident they will not be in producing fossil fuels.”

He told Fairfax Media: “I don’t think fossil fuels will be a big part of the world economy in 20 to 30 years’ time. But, that said, there is a big opportunity for these companies to change the mix of what they produce.”

While seven resources stocks were dumped, ANU has retained investments in mining groups BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, as well as in Woodside Petroleum and Wesfarmers.

investing

Professor Young said those groups were more diversified and showed signs of evolving to new energy sources in future……. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/anu-defends-divestments-says-fossil-fuels-companies-must-diversify-into-new-energy-20141012-114ypp.html

October 13, 2014 Posted by | ACT, business | Leave a comment

Toro Energy hoping against hope that the uranium market picks up in the future

bull-uncertain-uraniumToro seeks to expand planned WA uranium mine ABC News By David Weber 8 Oct 14
A company hoping to become the first to export uranium from Western Australia has released plans for an expansion of its currently untapped mine in the state’s mid-west.

Toro Energy last year received federal environmental approval for the Wiluna project to exploit the Lake Way and Centipede deposits.

But a new environmental scoping document included two more deposits, Millipede and Lake Maitland.

The plans are open for comment with the state’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)………

the WA Conservation Council said the existing conditional approval should be revoked and a completely new assessment done.The council’s Mia Pepper said the added impacts of an expansion needed to be considered.”While they might think that they know a lot, there’s a lot of impacts that are unknown when you add additional deposits,” she said.

“You add additional land clearing and impact area.”What they need to do and what they should be doing as any responsible company would is look at the cumulative impacts of that increase.”

Mr Yeeles said the start of mining was some way off.

“The market is not right, the price is not right for mining at the moment but by the time we complete the assessment for Millipede and Lake Maitland, we would expect the market conditions to have improved,” he said.

Toro expects the assessment process may take up to two years.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-06/uranium-miners-toro-seek-project-expansion-at-wiluna-site/5794318

October 8, 2014 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Does Australia have any ethical banks?

ethics

 Market Forces, an Australian ethical banking advocacy group, says the company [Westpac]  has invested in fossil fuels. Market Forces reckons between them, the big four, “ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac have loaned almost $20 billion to fossil fuel projects in Australia.”…….The advocacy group, Market Forces, is suggesting that Australians concerned the ethics of their current bank, particularly those funding the fossil fuel industry, should consider moving their hard earned dollars to a institution more in line with their personal values. Their campaign is known as Divestment Day. On October 18, they’re asking Australians to consider the ethics of their bank and switch, if necessary.

On the money when it comes to ethical investing   WARREN MCLAREN, ABC, 6 OCT 14 “………….Does Australia have any ethical banks?

Ethisphere thinks so. In its global register of what it labels as the World’s Most Ethical (WME) companies, the 2014 compilation included five banks. Impressively three of those were Australian. This was Westpac’s seventh consecutive year, on the eight-year-old list. NAB nabbed a fourth year, and Teachers Mutual was a first timer.

The Global Alliance for Banking on Values is an international organisation whose member banks have combined assets of approximately $100 billion in 25 countries. Earlier this year it held its annual conference in Melbourne, even though it has but only one Australian member: bankmecu.

Formed from an amalgam of over 50 credit unions bankmecu was Australia’s first customer owned bank, and is currently its largest. Not surprising for a customer owned bank, their customer approval rating have been greater than 90 per cent for more than a decade.

That’s not to suggest that bankmecu has the market all to their lonesome. The Australian Customer Owned Banking Association includes 96 such member institutions. Continue reading

October 8, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Four Mile uranium mine ships batch to Canada

Alliance Resources ships first batch of uranium ore Four Mile mine, Australia http://nuclearfuels.energy-business-review.com/news/alliance-resources-ships-first-batch-of-uranium-ore-four-mile-mine-australia-061014-4395242   EBR Staff Writer 06 October 2014   Alliance Resources has shipped first batch of uranium ore concentrate from its Four Mile mine in South Australia.

The ore concentrate has been shipped to Cameco’s facility at Blind River, Ontario, in September for further testing prior to sale.

The company is set to make a second shipment in mid-October to Canada.Alliance said that the first shipment comprised 300,000lb, while second shipment contains 210,000lb.

Due to limited availability of maritime transport, the first shipment of uranium was delayed.

Located 550km north of Adelaide, the Four Mile project is a joint venture of Alliance Resources and Quasar Resources, which owns 75% of the mine. It was commissioned in March and was opened in June.Alliance’s, Alliance Craton Explorer holds 25% of ML6402 and EL5017.

October 8, 2014 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

ERA digs itself into a deeper hole with underground uranium plan

highly-recommended Dave Sweeney, 6 Oct 14  Today’s announcement that Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has lodged its Environmental Impact Statement for underground mining (the Ranger 3 Deeps or R3D project) at its embattled Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu raises serious concerns about the project’s environmental impacts and economic viability, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

This application faces significant procedural and market hurdles and will be actively contested by national and NT environment groups.

“Uranium mining at Ranger has been the source of headlines, heartache and hazard for years but all mining and mineral processing ends in January 2021 when a mandated rehabilitation and closure process commences. ERA faces a serious management challenge to rehabilitate the Ranger site to a standard suitable for inclusion in the surrounding World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park”, said ACF nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“Ranger 3 Deeps would add considerable cost and complexity to this challenge. Instead of literally digging itself into a deeper hole ERA and parent company Rio Tinto should be advancing a comprehensive clean-up and closure program at Ranger”.

“ERA runs a failing mine in a fragile place. Kakadu deserves the highest protection and ERA requires the highest scrutiny. Instead of promises and plans to go underground Rio Tinto needs to ensure its under-performing subsidiary ERA meets its rehabilitation requirements in time and in total. After decades of being able to mine and mill Rio Tinto must not now be allowed to cut and run”.

Concerns around the planned R3D project include:

  • the projects impact on the required rehabilitation of the Ranger site (note: ERA’s authority for mining and mineral processing expires in January 2021)
  • doubts over the capacity of ERA and the commitment of parent company Rio Tinto to fund required rehabilitation works at Ranger. The former mine will need to be rehabilitated to a standard suitable for inclusion in the surrounding World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. This complex and costly task is being actively undermined by the lack of certainty surrounding rehabilitation financing. Rio Tinto argue they have no legal obligation to do the job, while ERA say they do not have the money. One corporation lacks commitment, the other capacity and Kakadu is held to ransom.
  • uncertainty surrounding the safety and adequacy of related infrastructure at the Ranger site (most starkly highlighted by the collapse of a leach tank and spill of overa million litres of radioactive and acidic slurry in December 2013)
  • ERA’s poor operational history which has seen over 200 leaks, spill, licence breaches and incidents at the Ranger mine and detailed concerns raised over the adequacy of the mine’s regulatory regime.
  • The poor uranium commodity price post Fukushima – a continuing nuclear crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium – ERA’s revenue has been steadily declining and net profit after tax has been negative in the last three years (2011-13). There is a real concern that falling costs will lead to ERA cutting corners.

Context and comment: Dave Sweeney, ACF – 0408 317 812

 

October 6, 2014 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Ranger uranium mine new plan, dubious, now scrutinised by Aborignal land owners

Ranger-3Traditional owners scrutinise environment plan for Ranger uranium mine  SMH October 6, 2014  Angela Macdonald-Smith The traditional owners of the Ranger uranium mine will look carefully at a draft environmental impact statement for an underground expansion lodged by Energy Resources of Australia on Friday, says Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Justin O’Brien.

He said the group, which represents the Mirarr people, would “weigh up the cultural, social and environmental considerations that will bring to bear on our decision-making”.

Rio Tinto-controlled ERA has pressed ahead with the potential expansion of the mine, near Kakadu, despite heightened fears among traditional owners over safety and health since a radioactive leak at the site late last year.

Chief executive officer Andrea Sutton said the company would “continue to seek their support” for the Ranger 3 Deeps project, which could start producing ore in December 2015……concerns over safety and health were still high since a leach tank accident last December and due to “the history of leaks and spills and accidents over many decades”.

ERA does not technically need the backing of the Mirarr traditional owners to go ahead with the underground mine, but Ms Sutton said “we certainly are seeking their support”.

Mr O’Brien said the economic dependence of Jabiru and the Mirarr people on Ranger, as well as cultural considerations would come into play in the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation’s decision, alongside the environmental issues.

The open pit at Ranger has already been depleted and is being re-filled, leaving ERA dependent on the processing of low-grade ore for production until production starts from any underground mine.

However, some analysts have voiced doubts about the underground project after ERA warned earlier this year that geotechnical conditions at the site were “less favourable than assumed”, leading to expectations it could cost more than originally anticipated.

Ms Sutton said it was too early to estimate costs for the underground project for which a pre-feasibility study is due for completion by the year-end. It is then due to be considered by the board in the first quarter of 2015……..

In-Situ-Leaching

Making the project more difficult is the weak uranium price, which has recovered from this year’s low of $US28 ($32) to about $35 but still remains less than half of the level most analysts say is required for a new green-field mine.

However, Ranger Deeps would be a brown-field expansion and Ms Sutton said ERA was not in any case counting on a material lift in the price until “mid to late this decade”. http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/traditional-owners-scrutinise-environment-plan-for-ranger-uranium-mine-20141005-10qhbd.html#ixzz3FOVx41Yf

October 6, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Australian National University sells off fossil fuel interests – but not enough of them

ANU decision to sell fossil fuel company holdings not enough: students By Lisa Mosley ABC News,  3 Oct 2014,  An Australian National University (ANU) decision to sell off about $16 million worth of its investments in seven fossil fuel companies does not go far enough, a students’ group says.

ANU said it would divesting itself of shares in Newcrest Mining, Iluka Resources, Oil Search and Santos, among other companies.

Vice-chancellor Professor Ian Young said it was important that the university did not invest in companies that are doing some form of social harm……….

Louis Klee from the group ANU Fossil Free said while it was a big achievement for the university, the decision did not go far enough.

He said the ANU still had major holdings in BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Woodside Petroleum.

“It is wrong for ANU to continue to profit from these industries that are responsible for the wreckage of the planet,” he said. …….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-03/anu-selling-fossil-fuel-company-holdings-not-enough-student-says/5789748

October 6, 2014 Posted by | ACT, business | Leave a comment

Abbott govt’s Review of Renewable Energy Target has caused slump in investment in renewables

Australia’s investment in renewable energy slumps 70% in one year  The Coalition’s review of the Renewable Energy Target has caused investment in clean energy to drop below that of Algeria, Thailand and Myanmar theguardian.com, Friday 3 October 2014 Australia’s investment in renewable energy projects has slumped below that of Algeria, Thailand and Myanmar, new figures have shown, with the sector “paralysed” by the government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target.

Just $193m was invested in new large-scale clean energy projects in the third quarter of 2014, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Investment in the year to date is $238m.

This represents a massive 70% slump on 2013 investment and has resulted in Australia slipping from the world’s 11th largest investor in clean energy to 31st in 2014.

This ranking is below Algeria, Myanmar, Thailand and Uruguay. By comparison, Canada has invested $US3.1bn in large clean energy projects so far in 2014.

The slowdown in renewable energy investment is pinned squarely by Bloomberg on the government’s review of the RET, which mandates that 41,000 gigawatt hours of Australia’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2020………

Kobad Bhavnagri, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, told Guardian Australia that the renewables sector is “in the doldrums.”

The government’s position has caused this, it has had some pretty strong anti-renewables rhetoric, particularly anti-wind, and wants to close certain clean energy programs,” he said. “The review has been particularly protracted. The industry was fearful the recommendations would be extreme and they were. It has been shattering.

“I think the government has backed itself into a corner because the Warburton review lacks credibility. I don’t think it’s in Labor’s interest to agree to any changes to the target.”

Bhavnagri said that should the RET be scaled back rather than abolished, investment would resume but at around half its current level, meaning that $10bn would be invested between now and 2020.

The figures follow an analysis done by the Clean Energy Council and, separately, the Greens, which shows that New South Wales would suffer most if the RET was scrapped. An estimated $4.24bn in projected investment and 4,410 jobs in the state would be at risk if the scheme was dismantled.

“NSW will be the hardest hit if the RET is dumped, with huge negative implications for jobs growth, power prices and the environment,” said Greens senator Lee Rhiannon.

“The Greens will continue to work to retain and expand the Renewable Energy Target and to give the industry certainty.”http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/oct/03/australias-investment-in-renewable-energy-slumps-70-in-one-year

October 6, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

$30 billion expansion of Olympic Damn uranium mine will go ahead, says Tony Abbott

Abbott-liarPrime Minister Tony Abbott predicts $30 billion Olympic Dam expansion will go ahead POLITICAL EDITOR TORY SHEPHERD THE ADVERTISER SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 A $30 billion Olympic Dam expansion is likely to go ahead “in the months and years ahead”, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.

BHP Billiton shelved the expansion plans in the face of low commodity prices and spiralling costs. However the expansion moved a step closer recently, after the Government waived stringent environmental tests to let them trial a cheaper way of processing minerals…….

BHP Billiton is expected to give more detail on their plans at their AGM in Adelaide in November. Chief executive Andrew Mackenzie has said they have reduced costs and might be able to go ahead with a smaller or incremental expansion.

Before the election Mr Abbott pledged to create the economic conditions that would give the expansion the best chance of going ahead.

Federal ministers have met with BHP and have been talking up the prospects of the expansion …….http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/prime-minister-tony-abbott-predicts-30-billion-olympic-dam-expansion-will-go-ahead/story-fni6uo1m-1227075708200

October 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

French company AREVA will get to have 51% interest , later more, in joint uranium venture with Toro Energy

AREVA-Medusa1Toro signs NT deal with AREVA https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/wa/a/25132512/toro-signs-nt-deal-with-areva/ The West AustralianSeptember 29, 2014 Toro Energy has signed a farm-in and joint venture agreement with French uranium and nuclear power giant AREVA in the Northern Territory.

The agreement covers a 2292sqkm tenement package in the Wiso Basin, southwest of Tennant Creek.

“Toro believes that its relatively unexplored Wiso Basin tenement package is ideally placed for exploring for a sandstone-hosted uranium mineralising system of a size and scale not unlike those found in Kazakhstan, where six of the world’s top 15 producing uranium mines are currently in operation,” the company said in a statement.

Toro’s managing director Dr Vanessa Guthrie said the company was excited to have AREVA participate in a substantial exploration portfolio at a time when few companies were actively exploring for uranium in Australia.

“We look forward to adding value to our NT exploration targets through a long and beneficial relationship with one of the world’s most respected uranium groups,” she said. Under the terms of the agreement, AREVA will spend $500,000 within two years of to earn a 51 per cent interest in the joint venture properties.

Upon reaching 51 per cent, AREVA will then have the option to spend another $1.5 million over four years for a further 29 per cent interest for a total 80 per cent stake.

Drilling is expected to begin in the first half of 2015.

Toro shares closed steady at 9.1 cents.

 

October 1, 2014 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, politics international | Leave a comment

Fossil fuel industries lobby against solar power: gas joins attack by coal utilities

fossil-fuel-fightback-1 What neither industry likes to talk about is the pricing of the network – did they invest too much money in network infrastructure, and shouldn’t they take a write down on those assets, rather than just charging customers more?.

Gas networks attack solar policies, fearing mass defections By on 26 September 2014  Gas industry calls for solar hot water rebates to remove to try to slow down mass defections from gas networks it fears will be caused by soaring gas prices.

The Energy Network Association has released a report that suggests the industry could lose one quarter of its customers as a result of soaring prices. It says 1.15 million households could drop gas and defect to solar hot water in coming years. Continue reading

October 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment

Investors representing $1 trillion lobby Abbott to keep Renewable Energy Target

piggy-ban-renewablesInvestors lobby PM on renewable energy http://www.investordaily.com.au/36340-investors-lobby-pm-on-renewable-energy 01 October 2014 | Staff Reporter A group of institutional investors representing $1 trillion has accused the prime minister of undermining the Renewable Energy Target.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott published in the Australian Financial Review, the Investor Group on Climate Change argued that the savings of more than 10 million Australians are invested in a “clean energy future”.

“The health of our economy is vitally dependent on investor confidence in government and the stability of its policies,” the letter said.

“For years we’re been investing the savings of Australians in projects on the basis of bipartisan support for boosting renewable energy,” it said.

“This is now at risk. Our investments, together with skilled industries and jobs that the Renewable Energy Target is creating, are at risk due to the uncertainty of your government’s commitment to the legislated 41,000 giga-watt-hour target.”

Australia ought to be growing renewable energy rather than “stepping back” from its international commitments, said the letter.

“Investors need predictable long-term policies to be confident to make investments in the energy sources of the future,” it said.

“This environment requires bipartisanship on the need for more renewable energy, not less. We encourage you not to change that now,” said the letter.

The Investor Group on Climate Change includes AustralianSuper, BT Financial Group, AMP Capital Investors, Colonial First State Global Asset Managers and Cbus among its members.

October 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics | Leave a comment

Melbourne and Moree get new solar businesses and employment openings

Spanish renewable energy firm sets up Melbourne-based subsidiary, THE FIFTH ESTATE 23 September 2014 Spain’s Elecnor Group has ignored the current political climate in Australia’s renewable energy sector and launched an infrastructure subsidiary based in Melbourne. ……..

Elecnor Australia’s first project is the $164 million solar photovoltaic farm in Moree, New South Wales for the Moree Solar Farm Company Pty Ltd, part of Fotowatio Renewables Venture. The joint venture originally included Pacific Hydro, which announced in August it was withdrawing from the project due to the policy-driven uncertainties impacting the renewable energy industry.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has contributed $101.7 million towards construction and operation of the project, and $47 million has been provided by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Covering 191 hectares, the farm will comprise 232,960 panels with a forecast annual output of 150 gigawatt-hours direct into the main energy grid, enough to power about 15,000 homes. It is expected to be complete and commissioned by the second quarter of 2015.

solar-farming

In a media statement, Elecnor said Australia will be a base for it to expand operations in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on developing business infrastructure and renewable energies………

The Moree project has already created a number of positions to be based at the town, with the firm earlier this month advertising for an assistant project manager (engineer), a construction manager, six technical engineers as sub-contract supervisors, mechanical and electrical engineers, a civil engineer, two draftpersons, accounts and administration, purchasing and logistics.http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/business/investment-deals/spanish-renewable-energy-firm-sets-up-melbourne-based-subsidiary/67877

September 27, 2014 Posted by | business, employment, New South Wales, solar, Victoria | Leave a comment

Slashing of Renewable Energy Target will mean loss of thousands of rural jobs

Abbott-destroyerRenewables energy suppliers warn on RET jobs http://www.businessspectator.com.au/news/2014/9/19/policy-politics/renewables-energy-suppliers-warn-ret-jobs 19 SEP,

Suppliers working on Australia’s renewable energy projects say many thousands of jobs will be lost – most of them in rural and regional areas – if the federal government slashes the Renewable Energy Target (RET).

Forty small and medium businesses from around Australia have jointly written to the government, urging it to retain the current policy, rejecting the recommendations of the recent Warburton review to shut down or severely reduce the RET.

“We are writing as suppliers to Australia’s renewable energy industry, which has now generated more than $10 billion worth of investment in large-scale renewable energy projects,” the companies said.

The companies (listed at bottom) between them operate across all Australian states and territories.  “Our businesses build electrical infrastructure, roads and components for power stations in wind, solar, hydro and bioenergy, along with supplying safety equipment, cranes, trucks and cement.

“They provide catering, cleaning services, security, logistics and accommodation to construction teams, manage environmental and cultural heritage plans, and supply many other essential inputs to the renewable energy industry.

“While the industry directly employs 21,000 people, our companies collectively employ many thousands more as a result of the clean energy sector.”

The companies, whose sizes range from 1 to 2000 employees, said Australia’s 68 wind farms, 49 large-scale solar projects, 139 bioenergy projects, 123 hydro projects and trial marine and geothermal projects had provided the incentive to grow and employ more workers.

“Many of these jobs are in rural and regional areas where other job opportunities are scarce,” they said.

“We have hired and trained workers and invested in our businesses on the basis of the development of renewable energy in Australia. Maintaining the RET in its current form will help us continue to create jobs and opportunities for Australian workers,” they wrote.

The companies also referred to analysis undertaken by ACIL Allen for the Federal Government, which found that retail electricity prices will be lower over the long term if the RET is maintained, as it will help shield Australians from rising gas prices.

“This is beneficial to all Australians, consumers and businesses alike,” the companies said.

Signatories: ………

September 20, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, employment | Leave a comment

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