They don’t mention the health and environmental aspects of the nuclear fuel chain. They don’t mention the national laws that will have to be overturned. They don’t mention the existing problems from Australia’s history of uranium mining.
And then there’s the continuing nuclear radiation crisis at Fukushima – you can bet that will not be on the agenda. Nor will they be talking about the global nuclear decline in the nuclear industry, and the fact that the new geewhiz nuclear reprocessing reactors (a) don’t exist yet and (b) nobody wants to invest in them
17 APRIL 2015 – NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE ROYAL COMMISSION VISITS MOUNT GAMBIER The first public forum of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission will be held in Mount Gambier on Monday 20 April – the formal start of a three month state-wide community engagement program.
The public meeting to be held at City Hall at midday is an opportunity for community, industry and other interested stakeholders to hear more about the Royal Commission and how they might take part in the process. It will also be the first time the Commission’s Issues Papers will be presented to the public for comment.
While in Mount Gambier, Royal Commissioner Rear Admiral the Honourable Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR (Rtd) will also meet with city representatives and community leaders.
Key areas of discussion will include those activities relating to the potential for the expansion of exploration and extraction of minerals; the undertaking of further processing of minerals and manufacture of materials containing radioactive substances; the use of nuclear fuels for electricity generation; and the storage and disposal of radioactive and nuclear waste……http://nuclearrc.sa.gov.au/media-centre/17-april-2015-nuclear-fuel-cycle-royal-commission-visits-mount-gambier/
Media banned from Rio Tinto’s ERA AGM after concerns about uranium mine rehabilitation, ABC News By Joanna Crothers 14 Apr 15 Media outlets have been banned from the annual general meeting of a Rio Tinto-owned company that operates the Ranger Uranium Mine in the Northern Territory amid concerns the company does not have enough money to rehabilitate the site once it finishes production.
The mine, near Jabiru which is surrounded by Kakadu National Park, 230 kilometres east of Darwin, is run by Energy Resources of Australia (ERA).
ERA is majority-owned by mining giant Rio Tinto. Ranger Uranium Mine is one of Australia’s three operating uranium mines.
On Monday, the NT Environment Centre said it had “major concerns” ERA would no longer be able to afford the full cost of rehabilitation, estimated at $512 million, due to suffering substantial losses over the past few years.
The company reported a $136 million loss for the 2013-14 financial year which was an $83 million improvement on the previous year.
ERA has said rehabilitation is funded under its current business plan, but if a proposed underground mine known as Three Deeps is not developed it may require another source of funding to pay for all of the rehabilitation works.
Environment Centre spokeswoman Lauren Mellor said she would raise these concerns at ERA’s AGM being held in Darwin today. Media have been told they cannot attend the meeting, even without recording devices, despite journalists having been able to attend previous ERA AGMs.
Speeches from the AGM have been published on the ERA website.
On Monday, Ms Mellor said she wanted to know whether parent company Rio Tinto would cover costs of rehabilitation should ERA be unable to pay.
“We’ll be asking to board of ERA whether they believe that the parent company, who does have the financial capacity to achieve rehabilitation, should be held responsible in the event that ERA no longer has the money to achieve this huge cyclical challenge of rehabilitating Kakadu National Park.
“What we’ve been seeing is Rio Tinto as a major shareholder, which is certainly not short of cash in the way that ERA is, trying to deflect criticism and attention and its corporate ties to this particular project and sidestep that responsibility.”……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-14/concerns-rio-tinto-era-wont-pay-for-ranger-mine-rehabilitation/6390600
ACT renewable energy jobs soar in past five years April 14, 2015 Henry Belot Canberra Times Reporter The number of jobs in the ACT renewable energy industry has increased by more than 400 percent over the past five years, the largest increase in Australia.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released earlier this week, 630 people were employed by the renewable energy industry last year with 480 employed by the government or non-profit institutions and 150 in solar power.
But while the ABS figures indicated a growth in ACT employment they revealed more than 2000 jobs had been lost in the industry nationwide over the past two years.
Some 12,590 people were employed full-time in the wind, solar and other renewable energy industries last year down from almost 15,000 two years earlier…….
In late 2013, the ACT government legislated a 90 percent renewable energy target for the territory by 2020 drawing praise from the Climate Council as a welcome contrast to federal uncertainty. …………
Mr Antflick Elementus Energy manager director Ashleigh Antflick,said he expected the solar farm, which will be relocated from a proposed site near the Uriarra village to beside the Monaro Highway at Williamsdale, to be a long-term stable employer of skilled labour in the ACT.
“We are looking at working with a number of tertiary education institutions in the territory to be part of their skills programs for undergraduate and technical training programs,” he said.
Mr Antflick said the ACT government and broader community were supportive or major solar power investments despite a concerted public relations campaign from Uriarra villagers to relocate the solar farm.
“There is a pretty clear understanding by territorians of the broader climatic benefits of solar energy and I think broad support for doing something to make a positive contribution to climate change,” he said. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/act-renewable-energy-jobs-soar-in-past-five-years-20150414-1mku8a.html
Big Banks Closing The Vault On Big Coal, Adding To Adani’s Woes, New Matilda, By Thom Mitchell 11 Apr 15 Plans to build one of the world’s largest coal mines in Queensland have hit yet another roadblock, with international investment banks refusing to back the project. Thom Mitchell reports.
Big investment banks continue to walk away from the massive new coal field proposed for the Galilee Basin in Queensland, with three French Banks – Société Générale, Crédit Agricole and BNP Paribas – yesterday joining nine others in not banking on the project’s success.
It is “due to the number and magnitude of issues linked to the planned coal development projects in the Galilee Basin,” that Credit Agricole SA, one of the three French banks, advised company Market Forces it “does not intend to finance these projects or their associated facilities”. Continue reading
Energy company’s $11 billion transfer to Singapore rings tax avoidance alarm bells, The Age, April 4, 2015 – Heath Aston Political reporter An energy company operating in Australia transferred more than $11 billion to the low-tax jurisdiction of Singapore in a single year, heightening concerns that Australia is being duped by tax-minimising multinationals.
The extraordinary scale of funds being moved out of the country by individual companies is revealed in an internal Australian Tax Office memo, obtained under Freedom of Information.
It lists 10 companies that channelled a combined $31.4 billion from Australia to Singapore in the 2011-2012 financial year.
An estimated $60 billion in so-called “related parties” transactions went from Australia to tax havens in the same year.
The Tax Office is particularly concerned about mining and energy companies extracting Australian minerals which have established “marketing hubs” in Singapore that appear to have little use other than as a destination for shifted profits. Continue reading
Any attempt to extend the lease will be controversial.
As colleague Peter Ker reported in February, the traditional owners seem pretty wedded to the idea that mining stops in 2021 and rehab is completed by 2026.
Ranger’s community issues stretch well beyond its sometimes fractured relationships with its local hosts, the Mirarr people. An extension will become an issue of serious contest across a sweep of the environmental movement both because of what it mines (uranium) and where it is (inside the Kakadu National Park).
Rio Tinto worried about ERA’s Ranger uranium mine http://www.afr.com/business/mining/uranium/rio-tinto-worried-about-eras-ranger-uranium-mine-20150402-1mctl1 by Matthew Stevens
The fate of Energy Resources Australia hangs in precarious balance with majority-owner Rio Tinto growing increasingly uncertain about the competitive economics and investment risk of a life-sustaining underground expansion at Australia’s most productive uranium project, the Ranger mine.
Rio owns 68 per cent of ERA and the Australian-listed uranium miner’s only operating asset is Ranger, a 30-year-old mine of occasionally extreme controversy.
Mining at Ranger’s open pit stopped more than two years ago and production is currently sustained by legacy stockpiles.
The longer future of ERA swings on an underground project called Ranger 3 Deeps, which has been the subject of $200 million in pre-feasibility investment over the past two years alone and requires up to $60 million more before a final investment decision might be secured. Continue reading
French abandon Far North uranium prospects DANIEL BATEMAN THE CAIRNS POST MARCH 18, 2015 ONE of the world’s largest uranium producers is pulling out of the Far North following the State Government’s renewed ban on uranium mining.
Minister for State Development, Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham has said a statewide prohibition will once again be put in place over uranium mining, forcing several companies to shelve development plans.
Areva had been exploring in the Karumba and Carpentaria basins since about 2012.
Areva Resources Australia managing director Joe Potter said the company would not be applying for new exploration tenements in Queensland in the near future, in light of the recent state policy changes and general downturn in the uranium market…….
Australian Conservation Foundation Northern Australia program officer Andrew Picone welcomed the return of a ban and the departure of Areva.
“The fact that Areva have pulled up stumps in Queensland’s Gulf only illustrates the market’s global contraction,’’ he said. http://www.cairnspost.com.au/business/french-abandon-far-north-uranium-prospects/story-fnjpusdv-1227266987603
Slow uptake of NSW uranium exploration licenses http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-18/slow-uptake-of-nsw-uranium-exploration-licenses/6328100 By Jacqueline Breen, 18 Mar 15, Only one of the six companies invited by the State Government to apply for a uranium exploration license has done so. The ban on mining uranium in New South Wales remains in place, but the Coalition has lifted the ban on exploration.
Last year the government invited six companies to apply for licenses to explore for deposits around Broken Hill, Cobar and Dubbo.
Only EJ Resources has submitted an application, seeking three licenses to explore north of Broken Hill.
The other companies–Australian Zirconia, Callabonna Resources, Hartz Rare Earths, Iluka Resources and Marmota Energy–did not apply before the government’s March deadline passed. When the government announced the shortlist last year Resources Minister Anthony Roberts said the state needed a “stock-take” of its uranium resources.
“This will allow us to understand fully what the uranium reserves are in New South Wales,” he said.
If EJ Resources’ license application is successful, the state government’s Division of Energy and Resources said only low impact monitoring that doesn’t disturb land can be carried out, unless further approval is sought.
The division said a land access agreement with landholders must be in place before any exploration begins.
BUSINESS has urged South Australia’s nuclear Royal Commission to fast-track consideration of hosting the nation’s first major waste dump, amid fears the state could miss out on a lucrative opportunity to take a foothold in a future storage industry.
The Federal Government has announced a new tender process for a national radioactive waste management facility and is seeking site nominations until May 5. However, South Australia’s Royal Commission is not expected to conclude until late this year or early 2016.
Australia has 4248 cubic metres of low level and 656 cubic metres of intermediate level waste in temporary storage, which the Federal Government is seeking to consolidate.
Most has been produced as the by-product of medical, research and industrial processes.
BusinessSA chief executive Nigel McBride said waste storage was a multibillion-dollar opportunity for the state and could become a major new revenue stream for government.
“The thing that really stands out as an opportunity is spent nuclear fuel storage,” he said.
“Maybe we need to fast track that. Maybe that’s the part of the Commission that needs to come out first. “We can’t just wait until the Commission is over. They’re calling for it now…….
Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney called for the tender to be delayed amid fears a rushed process could harm communities and the environment.
“There are no compelling social or technical reasons to rush a decision on an issue that demands the highest quality decision making,” he said. “We have time to get this issue right.” http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/nuclear-royal-commission-urged-to-fast-track-storage-talks/story-fni6uo1m-1227246749276
Port Adelaide community leaders say they don’t want a nuclear power plant in the heart of the Port KURTIS EICHLER PORTSIDE MESSENGER FEBRUARY 18, 2015
THE Port Adelaide Mayor and a local MP say they do not want a nuclear reactor built in their patch.Port Adelaide Enfield Mayor Gary Johanson and State Labor Port Adelaide MP Susan Close say any such plan for the heart of the Port would not be viable.
Mr Johanson said because the district was only 14km from the city it should not be an option for generating nuclear energy.He said Port Augusta, 322km north of Adelaide, was a better and more “convenient” option for the state.
While Mr Johanson would not be drawn on the viability of storing the state’s nuclear waste on the Le Fevre Peninsula, he said a power plant would not work even if it did create jobs………
“There are benefits in job creation in other areas such as freight but I don’t think it is feasible to have a nuclear power plant in the Port,” Mr Johanson said.
“I can’t see you would want to build it anywhere in metropolitan Adelaide.” Mr Johanson said most Port Adelaide residents would not want to live near a nuclear reactor……..
Dr Close agreed the Port was ill-suited for nuclear power. “The idea of a nuclear plant in the Port is a ridiculous and inflammatory suggestion and I don’t support it,” she said.Local real estate agent Rob McLachlan said a nuclear power plant in the heart of the Port would not attract people to live in the area.
Port Augusta mayor Sam Johnson did not return calls before the Portside Messenger’s deadline. http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/messenger/west-beaches/port-adelaide-community-leaders-say-they-dont-want-a-nuclear-power-plant-in-the-heart-of-the-port/story-fni9llx9-1227223707411
The ERA full year report for 2014 shows sales revenue up from $356.1 million in 2013 to $379.2 million, however nets profits have dropped from -$135.8 million to -$187.8 million.
Production has copped a beating as the Ranger begins to reach the end of its mine life, down to 1165 drummed tonnes in 2014, compared to 2960 in 2013 and 3710 in 2012.
The Ranger mine will continue mining until 2021, with full rehabilitation required by 2026, and has spent $378 million on rehab and water management over the past 2 years……http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/uranium-miner-era-posts-new-profit-losses
Renewable energy is popular, and job growth is essential. Committing to the existing Renewable Energy Target would be a good first step for policy makers on all sides to show they are serious about creating Australia jobs rather than fighting ideological battles.
This is occurring while renewable energy companies such as TrustPower, Infigen Energy and Pacific Hydro are suspending further investments in Australia because of the uncertainty around the RET. Continue reading
Australia’s uranium industry is in a sick and sorry state. Production of 5000 tonnes in 2014 was the lowest for 16 years. The industry generates less than 0.2 per cent of national export revenue and accounts for less than 0.02 per cent of jobs in Australia (about 1200 jobs).
The Ranger open-cut mine in the NT has been mined out and the planned Ranger 3 Deeps underground mine is subject to doubt and delay. Energy Resources of Australia has posted losses for each of the past five years, totalling $500 million. The uranium industry in the NT may come to an end when the last of the Ranger ore stockpile is milled in two years time.
In South Australia, the planned expansion of the Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine was cancelled in 2012, and hundreds of workers have been retrenched by BHP Billiton since then. The Honeymoon mine has been put into care-and-maintenance. Beverley Four Mile started production last year, at the same time as the nearby Beverley mine was put into care-and-maintenance. Instead of the usual fanfare, The Advertiser reported: “South Australia’s newest mine will lose money and won’t create any jobs.”
Nuclear non-starter: Oversupplied, losing money and without a constituency, Climate Spectator, JIM GREEN 16 Feb 15 As discussed in Climate Spectator recently, some nuclear insiders and lobbyists are starting to confront the reality that the global pattern of nuclear power stagnation is likely to continue. With the number of ‘operable’ power reactors declining from 443 to 437 over the past decade, the rhetoric about a nuclear renaissance is becoming hard to sustain.
Similar opinions about the uranium industry are becoming increasingly common. Continue reading
Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia tight-lipped about its Ranger mine’s gloomy financial situation
ERA keeps its Ranger delay very hush-hush BY CRAIG DUNLOP NT NEWS FEBRUARY 11, 2015 ENERGY Resources Australia has quietly delayed the expansion of the Ranger uranium mine, with work now set to commence at an unspecified date in 2016, rather than its original target date of late 2015.
The company, 68 per cent owned by mining giant Rio Tinto, made the announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange late on Friday.
“Dependent on the outcome of further work, and subject to board and regulatory approvals, first development ore for Ranger 3 Deeps is now expected to be in 2016,” the report said.
It also said that ERA was likely to require further investment for the expansion to go ahead.
The knock-on effects from the failure of a leach tank in 2013 continued to be felt until mid-2014, as the company was forced to purchase, and then onsell, uranium in order to meet its prearranged sales contracts.
The delay has pleased environmental groups, who have long objected to Ranger 3, with the Environment Centre NT and the Australian Conservation Foundation labelling the expansion plans “unviable”.
The Environment Centre NT’s Lauren Mellor said: “The delay on investment in the Ranger 3 Deeps project is a major setback for both Rio and ERA, with costs continuing to blow out and time running out for this short-term, high-risk venture.”………
- In light of the losses and the investment required in Ranger 3, the company’s directors have not issued a dividend.
13 Feb 15 National and Territory Environment Groups have today welcomed the announcement that investment in Ranger 3 Deeps, a controversial new underground uranium mine proposal has been significantly delayed by Rio Tinto, majority owner of the embattled Ranger uranium mine within the boundaries of Kakadu National Park.
The decision came off the back of further record losses for Rio subsidiary and Ranger mine operator Energy Resources of Australia of $188 million in 2014 and $136 million in 2013. ERA have now suffered five consecutive yearly losses totalling $500 million.
“Ranger’s underground mine has become a money pit for Rio Tinto, with the company investing hundreds of millions in feasibility studies and an underground decline tunnel in recent years, and has faced unprecedented community opposition receiving over 4500 public submissions opposing the mine during the Environment Impact Assessment public comment phase in December last year,” Lauren Mellor, Nuclear-free Campaigner with the Environment Centre NT said.
“The delay on investment in the Ranger 3 Deeps project is a major setback for both Rio and ERA, with costs continuing to blow out and time running out for this short-term, high risk venture. Years of sustained uranium company and sector losses have shown even the industry’s biggest players are getting cold feet for new mines, with no commodity price recovery predicted within ten years – well past the legal operating timeframe for Ranger 3 Deeps.”
“This decision by the Rio board is a long overdue recognition that the project, like the wider uranium industry, is unviable. It has a very limited lease life, with all mining on the Ranger lease mandated to end in 2021, at a time when the commodity price has never been lower, making old mines like Ranger struggle, and new projects like Ranger 3 Deeps buckle.” said Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
“Day by day, every delay and every lost dollar makes this project less viable and less likely. “The nuclear industry simply can’t compete, on cost, construction times and on community standards for environmental protection. Like Ranger mine its well past its use by date and the NT and Federal governments should be using this company delay to instead accelerate a rehabilitation plan for Kakadu that will see the region and its inhabitants protected for the long haul.”