Australian news, and some related international items

 Paladin called on to close and rehabilitate Malawi uranium mine

Paladin-thumbConservation Council of Western Australia, 20 Nov 15  Shareholders at Perth based company Paladin’s AGM will call for the non-operational Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi to be closed and rehabilitated. Calls for rehabilitation follow years of community opposition to the mine and failure to prevent the release of radioactive material into the environment.

The mine has been under ‘care and maintenance’ for several years due to the falling demand for uranium globally.

Charles Roche from the Mineral Policy Institute who will be attending the meeting said “With predicted operating costs almost double the long-term uranium price, there is a real danger that Kaylekera will be abandoned or sold off to reduce company debt. Instead of endless optimism Paladin should be honest about the possibility of re-commencing of mining in the next few years and begin rehabilitation works to protect communities, secure the site and end the cycle of financial losses”.

Mia Pepper, CCWA nuclear free campaigner who is in Africa at the Nuclearization of Africa conference this week said “We’ve been asking, along with French group CRIIRAD, for Paladin to release monitoring data from testing downstream from the mine. CRIIRAD have completed intermittent tests which indicate there is some radiological impact from the Kayelekera mine on the environment.”

“As the mine is about to go into a third year of being in Care and Maintenance we are concerned about the ongoing management of water on site and the structural integrity of the site. We would like to see this mine going into early rehabilitation, given the failures of Paladin to address community concerns, the clear local opposition to the project and the failure to contain radiological material onsite and an uncertain future. Rehabilitation should be done to the same standards expected in West Australia.”

Paladin has two uranium exploration projects in WA, also on hold given the stagnant uranium price and no mid term prospects of improvement. Paladin’s project in Qld is on hold indefinitely given that the Queensland Government reinstated the ban on uranium in Qld. Their JV proposal in the NT is also indefinitely on hold given strong opposition from the NT Government and Alice Springs residents.

November 20, 2015 Posted by | business, politics international, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Even Westinghouse gives cost of nuclear reactor as $17.5billion

Global energy giant Westinghouse says an Australian nuclear power plant would cost $17.5bn November 5, 2015 ……..Ms Bowser, Westinghouse’s vice president of new plant project advancement, said construction of the company’s AP1000 model would take four years but deciding a site and various necessary approvals would take longer.


November 6, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

Cameco’s uranium plans in Western Australia stalled indefinitely by low prices

burial.uranium-industryUranium miner Cameco to move in WA when demand lifts for nuclear energy, Perth Now 
October 28, 2015 
North American uranium miner Cameco plans to advance its WA projects when demand picks up.

The company says it is frustrated by roadblocks to uranium mining in WA, particularly from the WA Labor Party, which may stop new uranium mines from going ahead if elected.

Cameco Australia managing director Brian Reilly said uranium miners would need access to more Australian ports to export its products in the future……..

November 4, 2015 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear/uranium giants don’t want nuclear technology (just waste dumping)

 To secure investment in a facility that will use relatively new and still uncertain technologies, the UK scrutiny-on-costsgovernment has guaranteed to pay £92.50 a megawatt hour for power. At current exchange rates that works out at $198.91mwh. The average spot price for electricity across Australia on Tuesday was $39.89mwh.

That gap demonstrates the quantum of incentive that Australia might need to attract the capital necessary to establish a footprint in nuclear power.

Nuclear warriors reject power and enrichment, AFR, by Matthew Stevens, 31 Oct 15 Hugh Morgan has been an apostle of the nuclear industry for more than 30 years. Australia’s biggest uranium mine, Olympic Dam, opened under Morgan’s watch as chief executive of Western Mining. And, to the ridicule of many, one of Morgan’s retirement projects was a business set up a decade ago that aimed to build nuclear power stations in Australia.

You might imagine Melbourne’s miner of legend is pretty excited about the quite sudden emergence of some level of national political consensus over South Australia’s attempt to expand its place in the nuclear energy cycle.

But Malcolm Turnbull’s support for a nuclear fuel industry based in South Australia is no Toyota moment for Morgan. And neither is our favourite defender of all things atomic tempted to excitement by Bill Shorten’s observation that an Australian nuclear industry should have been established years ago.

Morgan, you see, remains ever the financial rationalist. Continue reading

October 31, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

Energy resources of Australia abandons plan to expand Ranger uranium mine

Ranger 3Energy Resources of Australia Accepts Defeat on Ranger Uranium Mine Extension, Uranium Investing News,  • October 19, 2015 Mining Australia reported that Energy Resources of Australia (ASX:ERA) has decided to accept defeat on plan to extend Ranger uranium mine beyond 2021.

As quoted in the market news:

A statement from ERA this afternoon revealed the Mirrar Traditional Owners and Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation do not support an extension to the authority to mine at Ranger, in Kakadu National Park.

A statement from ERA said the company respected the views of the Traditional Owners, and would undertake a business review in light of their decision.

“In light of this development, ERA has commenced a process of assessing whether the company’s assets may be impaired,” the company said.

The news was welcomed by Environment Centre NT, where Nuclear Free campaigner Lauren Mellor said it was time for “the era of rehabilitation and a staged and managed exit from Kakadu to begin”.

“ERA must now accept full financial responsibility for the costly and complex task of rehabilitation, accept Rio’s funding offer and cooperate with all stakeholders in the transition to a post-mining phase of operations,” Mellor said.

October 23, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Victorian Energy Compares electricity prices

text-Please-Notepower-bill-comparison-site-launched-20151016-gkaoee.html October 17, 2015 Marc Moncrief  Consumers disgruntled by their electricity providers can access an updated independent price comparison service backed by the state government.

The Victorian Energy Compare website allows users to use their own smart meter data to compare offers from electricity providers. It also compares offers from gas retailers and estimates the net position of any solar credits a home might have.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio​ said that, while there were other sites that compare electricity deals, they limited the offers they displayed to companies that pay.

“Unlike other websites that compare energy offers, this government website includes every single tariff,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“No other price comparison web site does that.”

She said that, particularly for an essential service like electricity, it was vital that consumers had access to every deal to be able to make informed decisions.

Karl Barratt, EnergyInfoHub project manager at the Consumer Utilities Advocacy Centre, said it was “the only independent price comparison site” in the state.

“Because it’s such a complex system in Victoria, I think it’s groundbreaking that we have this available,” he said.

“The others are private operators. They have a relationship with the retailers. The private comparators will only show the narrow range that they are paid to show you.”

The launch follows the release earlier this month of a code of conduct for websites that compare utility offerings after some high-profile companies fell foul of the consumer affairs regulator.

Popular sites iSelect, Compare the Market and Energy Watch have all been pinged in the past by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for misleading their users.

October 18, 2015 Posted by | business, Victoria | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactors lobby turns to Australia, as safety rules too strong in USA

SMRs AustraliaWhy Australia is important to the Small Nuclear lobby. Independent Australia

 16 October 2015, Elsewhere in the world, proponents of small nuclear reactors are pitted against the large reactors, but here in Australia, as Noel Wauchope reports, proponents of small reactors see them as enabling conventional nuclear and uranium mining to flourish.   QUIETLY, AND pretty much under the media radar, a dispute is going on in the global nuclear industry between the advocates of “Generation III” — big nuclear reactors, and “Generation IV” — small nuclear reactors…….

 the nuclear lobby’s spiel to Australia is something different, and very original. No dispute — because the argument is that small reactors would further the large reactor industry.

First articulated by Oscar Archer on ABC RN, March 2015, the idea is that Australia, in setting up small nuclear reactors, would enable the conventional nuclear industry and uranium mining to flourish:….. As Archer says, Australia would indeed be the pioneer for the new technology.

And that’s what the USA “new nuclear” lobby desperately needs.  They need this, because they’re finding it impossible to go ahead in America. Why? Well it’s those pesky safety regulations imposed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

What the “Small Nuclear” lobby needs is a “nuclear friendly” country – one with less stringent safety
scrutiny-Royal-Commissionregulations – to set up their nuclear reactors on a test site. Hence the enthusiasm of those lobbyists for the South Australia Nuclear Fuel Chain Royal Commission, as shown, for example, in a recent Royal Commission hearing speech by Thomas Marcille of Holtec International nuclear company.

……… the Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC) has proved to be real nuisance since it tightened regulations for the licensing process after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The new nuclear marketers have had to go overseas, first to China, then perhaps to Australia?….,8263

October 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, marketing for nuclear, Nuclear Royal Commission | 2 Comments

Fall in quarterly production for uranium miner ERA

thumbs-downERA’s Sept quarter production falls, NT NewsAAP OCTOBER 13, 2015 THE Rio Tinto-owned company that recently shelved a major uranium mine expansion has reported a fall in quarterly production.

ENERGY Resources of Australia produced 457 tonnes of uranium oxide in the September quarter, down 19 per cent on the same quarter last year.

      Production was up 17 per cent on the June quarter, when output was impacted by a mill shutdown to carry out maintenance.All ore milled in the September quarter was taken from existing stockpiles, and no exploration expenditure was incurred during the quarter.ERA lost half its board in June after deciding a proposed new underground mine at Ranger in the Northern Territory will not proceed to a final feasibility study due to a sluggish uranium market.
Rio Tinto has pulled its support for any expansion, but ERA continues to seek to extend its authority to operate Ranger in order to re-visit the expansion at some stage.

The company’s total evaluation expenditure for the September quarter dropped to $1 million, from $3 million in the June quarter, due to “close out activities” of its Ranger pre-feasibility study……..

October 14, 2015 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Unable to sell them at home, Westinghouse trying to flog uneconomic nuclear reactors to Australia

buyer-beware-1Westinghouse eyes Australian nuclear potential, links with local suppliers, SMH October 8,  15, Angela Macdonald-Smith and Jenny Wiggins Nuclear technology giant Westinghouse sees the retirement of old coal-fired power plants in Australia as an opportunity for nuclear power and is positioning itself early to inform the political and public debate.

In Sydney to announce a tie-up with three local suppliers, Westinghouse chief executive Danny Roderick said the Japanese-owned company “wants to make sure that the facts are out there” on the safety of new-generation nuclear reactors.

He said that convincing the 8 per cent of the Australian public that is undecided about nuclear power would create “an overwhelming majority of people in Australia that would support a nuclear new-build”.

The company, part of Toshiba Corporation, already has strong links with uranium suppliers in Australia, and sees the latest step as “a very logical fit” to build on those and explore local manufacturing capacity for a new reactor……….

Public perception still an issue

Nuclear power made “a lot of sense” for Australia, Mr Chilcote added. “Look at what brown coal and the associated emissions are doing on the environment. There’s a lot less waste out of nuclear, the hardest part is overcoming the public perception.”

The option of nuclear power for Australia is being examined within a South Australian royal commission, with findings due next year. Meanwhile, the federal government’s greenhouse gas reduction targets, of 26 to 28 per cent cuts from 2005 levels by 2030, and the anticipated retirement of ageing coal-fired generators have also set the scene for discussion.

“In the next decade you have several very large coal plants that are going to need to be retired, and you’re going to have to choose to build something to replace those,” Mr Roderick said.

“If you’re going to talk about carbon reduction and greenhouse gas reductions you’re going to have to bring nuclear into the mix.”

Mr Roderick’s discussions this week included federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, Port Adelaide member Mark Butler and senior officials from the offices of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg.

He has been pointing out that Westinghouse’s AP1000 nuclear plant uses “passive” technology that doesn’t require electricity to be able to safely shut itself down, averting a Fukushima-like situation. This type of plant is under construction in the US and is set to be used in the UK, China and India………..

October 9, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, marketing for nuclear | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report shows opportunity for clean energy jobs worth $370 bn

Australian clean energy jobs could be worth $370 bn in 10 years   By  on 29 September 2015 Australia’s renewable energy industry could generate $370 billion worth of jobs over the next 10 years using current technology, a new report has found. The report, released on Tuesday by Beyond Zero Emissions, aims to illustrate how Australia can transition from coal-fired power to renewables, shifting the economy along with it.

“Our research with Melbourne University into energy generation in Australia shows that we can create $370 billion of green energy jobs with current technology, instead of using coal-fired power stations,” said Beyond Zero Emissions CEO Stephen Bygrave.


When you add to this smart homes and buildings, as well as low-carbon land use, high speed rail and electric vehicle options, the green jobs climb towards $1 trillion dollars in value, Dr Bygrave says.

The report’s findings coincide with a new policy proposal from the Greens that calls for a levy to be imposed on coal mining companies to help pay for the transition away from fossil fuels, including for the rehabilitation of retired mines and retraining workers for clean energy jobs.

BZE is also set to launch a new book on October 2, at the Smart Future Cities Conference showing how easily existing Australian homes can be retrofitted to eliminate electricity and gas bills – a follow-up to its Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan, that was researched over 3 years.

“The Buildings Plan showed that all residential and commercial buildings in Australia could be converted to generate as much energy as they consumed, creating $270 billion of green jobs in the construction industry,” Bygrave said.

“The new book, The Energy Freedom Home, shows how every home can produce more energy than it consumes. And with rising electricity and gas prices and falling rooftop solar prices, Australian households can affordably revolutionise the way they power their homes.

“Our research shows that millions of ordinary Australian homes can be transformed to be high performing, comfortable and cheaper to run. The transformation is easy since 1.4 million homes already have rooftop solar.”

To illustrate their theory, BZE along with the University of Newcastle have retrofitted a brick veneer family home in North Lambton, Newcastle, that was originally built in 2000.

The retrofits, which began in 2009 and are based on the guidelines provided by the Energy Freedom Home program now save the household $1,200 a year on power bills, with credits during the year. By 2013 the house was transformed into a comfortable, passive solar house, generating more energy from the PV system in the year than it uses.

“We removed the gas systems for health, safety and cost reasons, and have found we use less energy now than when we had both electricity and gas,” said the house’s owner, who monitors it for energy, water, temperature and humidity.

As part of the Smart Future Cities conference, the home in North Lambton will be open on 10am and at 10:30am on Saturday 3rd October for free limited tours.

October 1, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, employment, energy | Leave a comment

Climate hypocrites – survey findings on Rio Tinto, Business Council of Australia

climate-changeRio Tinto, Business Council of Australia among ‘climate hypocrites’, survey says SMH, September 16, 2015 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and the Business Council of Australia are among the world’s largest companies and industry groups holding back action on climate change, according to a new survey.

The research, based on methodology developed by the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists and applied by UK-based non-profit group InfluenceMap, found 45 per cent of the 100 biggest industrial companies were “climate hypocrites”  that obstruct action on global warming. Some 95 per cent of the delaying firms were also members of trade associations that demonstrated “the same obstructionist behaviour”.

BHP Billiton was rated a “D”, keeping it just outside the lower 45 per cent of companies that were ranked as “hypocrites”.

“More and more, we’re seeing companies rely on their trade groups to do their dirty work of lobbying against comprehensive climate policies,” Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said.  “It is unacceptable that companies can obstruct climate action in this way without any accountability.”

Google topped the list of best performers, along with Unilever and Cisco Systems, each of which received a “B” rating for their relatively positive involvement on tackling greenhouse gas emissions and backing laws that supported such action.

Unilever,  which has consumer brands including Dove and Flora, gained kudos for “strongly” supporting the introduction of a carbon tax in Australia in 2012.

The Abbott government scrapped the policy two years later and newly installed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull indicated in his first speech after toppling Tony Abbott that he would stick to the replacement direct action policy to pay polluters to curb emissions.

BHP Billiton, which has coal and oil interests, received its “D” for having a “low level but negative engagement on climate regulation”, including supporting the repeal of the carbon price. “The company appears to be supportive of [greenhouse gas] intensive energy sources, supporting continued use of coal,” the survey said.

BHP also lost marks for its membership of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers and the Business Council of Australia (BCA), “both of which appear to be opposing climate policy”, the report argued.

September 18, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Uranium deal with India is bad for Australian business

cliff-money-nuclearAustralia-India nuclear deal

14 September 2015  By Ron Walker, currently a visiting fellow at the Asia Pacific College of Diplomacy at ANU. Ron is a former DFAT officer who worked for 20 years in Australia’s nuclear diplomacy. Among the positions he occupied were the first Head of the Nuclear Safeguards Branch and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Besides its collateral damage to Australia’s security, commercial and diplomatic interests, the soon-to-be ratifiedAustralia-India nuclear cooperation agreement notably fails to meet its objectives.

The aim was to give a green light to Australian uranium exports to India. Two objectives were to be served, one commercial, the other diplomatic. A vast new market was to be opened for Australian uranium exporters and India was to be convinced Australia was a reliable partner, worthy of a closer relationship.

Instead, as has been exposed in the Joint Parliamentary Committee, the Australian side gave away so much in the course of the negotiations on safeguards against nuclear proliferation and left open such loopholes for Australian uranium to end up in bombs or otherwise help their manufacture, that this proposed treaty does not do what Australia’s 23 existing nuclear safeguards treaties do.

Unlike them, it does not give Australian exporters legally watertight guarantees that the trade will be subject to effective controls against misuse of the uranium in ways Australian companies neither want nor could afford. So many deficiencies in the proposed treaty have been exposed it amounts at best, not to a greenlight but to a blinking yellow one. Not ‘all is guaranteed safe’ but ‘proceed carefully at your own peril’. And JSCOT’s main recommendation is a red light: no uranium exports to be permitted for the foreseeable future.

How Australian companies will respond and what risks they will be prepared to take remains to be seen, but no responsible government would have placed them in this situation.

The Indian Government has every reason to feel it too has been dudded. Instead of a reliable supply, there is a big element of precariousness. As for a demonstration of the Australian Government’s trustworthiness as a close partner, the contrary impression is conveyed of a bumbling inability to manage our own end of the deal.

September 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Global investment bank UBS approves Labor’s proposed 50 per cent renewable energy target

piggy-ban-renewablesAustralia’s Energiewende: UBS on why 50% renewable target is good, REneweconomy, By  on 14 September 2015 Global investment bank UBS has conducted the first in-depth analysis of Labor’s proposed 50 per cent renewable energy target for Australia by 2030, concluding that it will require around $80 billion in investment, but much of this would need to be spent anyway.

In various scenarios outlined in the report, UBS says that up to 20GW of wind energy will need to be built by 2030, and 26GW of solar (both rooftop and large-scale), along with around $10 billion in grid costs. Around $4.8 billion is expected to be spent on battery storage by networks, and nearly $3 billion by households.

But it says this much of this will come from private investment, mostly from listed companies. And much of it needs to be factored in because it would be spent anyway to replace ageing coal and gas plants. And, UBS notes, all polls point to the popularity of renewable energy.

“A big part of the above cost will be incurred in one way or another as most of the thermal fleet in Australia is old and will need replacing.”

The intervention of UBS comes at a critical time, with the Canning by-election ……….

UBS says that the current target aims for around 7GW of wind and 6GW of solar, but it is not working anyway, because the policy certainty is not there – an issue we explore in this story, If wind energy is this cheap, why aren’t wind farms being built?………

Indeed, UBS suggests that a reverse auction process might be the best way to meet a Labor 50 per cent target – the same system adopted with great success in the ACT, and now by Germany and Texas and elsewhere (South Africa, UAE and Brazil also come to mind).

“Renewable energy suppliers and financiers want revenue certainty,” UBS analyst David Leitch writes.

“Thermal suppliers want to be able to plan their future with confidence. We think capacity auctions meet both of these goals.”

How would this work?

Leitch says legislation could set a quantity of renewable capacity to be added to each year. For instance, a 50 per cent by 2030 target requires around 70TWh of new renewables to be delivered over the 13 years from 2018 to 2030. That’s around 5TWh per year…………

September 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, energy | Leave a comment

Rosatom now selling uneconomic Honeymoon uranium project in South Australia

uranium-orethumbs-downRosatom sells Honeymoon uranium mine in South Australia, SMH September 1, 2015 Simon Evans Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom has finally lost patience with the Honeymoon uranium project in northern South Australia and is selling it off to an ASX-listed minnow called Boss Resources.

Honeymoon is one of the five Australian uranium mines in Australia, four of which are located in South Australia, but it has been in mothballs for the past two years because of the plunge in uranium prices which made it uneconomic to continue mining from the site.

The Honeymoon mine is located about 75 kilometres north west of the town of Broken Hill and has been through a series of changes in ownership, the last being a buyout of the Canadian firm Uranium One by the Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom. This gave Rosatom ownership of Honeymoon.

Boss Resources chairman Evan Cranston told Fairfax Media on Tuesday that one of the big attractions was the 2600 square kilometre tenement package which came with the project…….

The complex buyout by Boss involves several components including a $2.4 million cash payment, a $200,000 “site access” fee and several milestone payments into the future if the mine does go into production again.

September 2, 2015 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment


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