Environment Minister Greg Hunt has granted conditional approval to Canadian uranium miner Cameco to develop the Kintyre mine in WA’s north.
But Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation said the East Pilbara mine, adjacent to the Karlamilyi National Park, will harm the environment and people.
“On Anzac eve the government has backed the wrong diggers,” he said. “This mine plan does not enjoy broad support and the mining company has said it has no immediate plans to develop the project because of the low commodity price.
“The federal government had time to genuinely examine this plan. “Instead, it has chosen to fast-track an approval before a national holiday”.
Mia Pepper, from the Conservation Council of WA, said the mine, of which Cameco owns 70 per cent and Mitsubishi holds the remainder, also threatens water quality in the region.
“It is irresponsible for Minister Hunt to have given approval for this project at this time”, she said.
“A unique part of our country faces an unnecessary threat because of this approval.
“We will continue our work with the local Parnngurr community and many wider community members and organisations to stop a poor political decision becoming a polluting Pilbara mine”.
West Australian Environment Minister Albert Jacob granted conditional approval for the mine to go ahead last month. Environment Minister Greg Hunt was contacted for comment.
Federal approval granted for Cameco to develop Kintyre uranium mine in Pilbara, ABC News 24 Apr 15 By Tyne McConnon and Ebonnie Spriggs A proposed uranium mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region has been granted conditional Federal environmental approval.
One of the world’s largest uranium producers, Cameco Australia, wants to build the Kintyre open-cut uranium mine 270 kilometres north-east of the town of Newman.
The project received conditional approval from Western Australia’s Environment Minister Albert Jacob last month……..
In a statement, Cameco said the approval by the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt included conditions covering radiation, ground and surface water, terrestrial fauna and mine closure……..
Environmentalists fear long-term impact of uranium waste
Environmentalists have previously condemned the proposal, citing concerns over the level of radiation monitoring required of the company throughout the Karlamilyi National Park, where the mine would be located.
Campaigner Mia Pepper said current regulations for safely managing uranium in Australia were deficient. “The thing with uranium is that it’s different to other minerals. It’s radioactive, and that radiation is very hard to manage in our environment that [has] very, very dry periods and very, very wet periods,” she said.
“That radiation is so mobile in our environment when we start mining it, you know, it becomes hugely dangerous, and I don’t know of anywhere where they can safely mine uranium.
“What’s left behind after mining is radioactive mine waste, and that stays in our environment forever, really, or for at least 10,000 years. “It’s a very long period of time, and it will be there long after this company has stopped existing and long after this Government has changed.”
Traditional owners, the Martu people, signed a land-use deal with Cameco in 2012.
The company said a development decision would be made when market conditions were favourable to new uranium production…http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-24/uranium-mine-kintyre-given-federal-approval-cameco-says/6418974
As Ranger approaches its end of mine life the stark question of which company bears responsibility for the costly, complex and technically challenging rehabilitation effort is increasingly being asked. ERA says it doesn’t have the funding capacity and Rio Tinto claim it hasn’t the legal responsibility.
Rio Tinto and ERA are playing a game of corporate convenience and the stakes are very high as the miners are required by law to bring the former mineral lease to a standard whereby it can be incorporated into the surrounding Kakadu National Park.
Rio Tinto and Energy Resources of Australia: Uranium Uncertainty and Radioactive Responsibility, Environment Centre NT 22 Apr 15 “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” Financial Review, April 2015
Rio Tinto owns 68 per cent and is the parent company of Energy Resources of Australia, an Australian-listed uranium miner who’s only operating asset is the troubled Ranger mine in Kakadu – a 30-year-old mine with a long history of accidents, spills and security breaches.
Mining at Ranger’s open pit ceased over two years ago and production is currently sustained by processing stockpiles. All mining and mineral processing at the site must end in January 2021, to be followed by a mandated five year rehabilitation period.
But as the window on mining at Ranger closes there is growing concern that Rio Tinto may seek to avoid its near $700 million rehabilitation responsibilities and leave a lasting radioactive hole in the heart of Kakadu National Park.
RIO HOLDING THE REINS AT RANGER Continue reading
Lake Way flooding proves Wiluna unviable http://www.robinchapple.com/lake-way-flooding-proves-wiluna-unviable 27 Mar 15, (Good photos) After yesterday flying over Lake Way to see the extent of flooding in the area, WA Greens spokesperson on uranium Robin Chapple MLC has expressed deep concern about the future of proposed uranium mining on the lake bed.
Chapple says water could increase the risk at Toro, Kalgoorlie Miner, 26 Mar 15 Mining and Pastoral MLC Robin Chapple has expressed concerns about plans to mine uranium in Wiluna after the “flooding” of Lake Way.
His comments came this week after a flyover revealed what Mr Chapple termed flooding on the lake bed. Toro Energy plans to store radioactive tailings from the proposed Wiluna uranium mine — up to 100 million tonnes — in the mined-out Centipede and Millipede pits, which will also be on the lake bed and are now underwater. The company has cited flooding as a non-issue, claiming the lake to be a natural drainage point, according to Mr Chapple.
Mr Chapple said the extensive flooding at Lake Way raised serious concerns about Toro’s ability to manage water effectively while mining on a lake bed. “I do not believe this company has properly accounted, nor planned, for potential flooding to the extent we have seen this week at Lake Way,” he said
“Not only would floodwaters of this magnitude carry radioactive material to other parts of the ecosystem, but on drying out could potentially release large quantities of oxidised uranium … into the atmosphere.
Mia Pepper Nuclear Free Campaigner Conservation Council of Western AustraliaAbout the flooding of Lake Way – the proposed site for the “Wiluna uranium project” including three pits on Lake Way. We’ve raised the issue that Toro Energy want to store about 100 million tonnes of radioactive tailings in two mined out pits on the lake bed (Centipede and Millipede) – the Department of Mines and Petroleum haven’t yet approved or even seen a tailings management plan from the company. We are focused on making sure the tailings don’t end up in this lake!
Pilbara uranium mine: Minister dismisses concerns over environmental approval ABC News 6 Mar 15 Western Australia’s Environment Minister Albert Jacob has dismissed concerns about his conditional approval of a Pilbara uranium mine. One of the world’s largest uranium producers, Cameco, is proposing to build the Kintyre open-cut mine about 270 kilometres north-east of Newman.
Environmentalists have condemned the decision, citing concerns over the level of radiation monitoring required of the company throughout the Karlamilyi National Park, where the mine would be located……..
the WA Conservation Council’s Mia Pepper said the Government should ensure any animal which is consumed by traditional landowners, not just those that are endangered, also remain protected.”In that area there is a lot of hunting and the big concern is around the radiological uptake in bush foods, which could impact public health,” she said.
“Whether there’s a big risk or a small risk, the point is that there should be monitoring and there should be evidence that the company can provide to the community to say that there is no risk.”……..
Traditional owners, the Martu people, signed a land-use deal with Cameco in 2012.
Kintyre now requires federal environmental approval.
The Conservation Council said environmental groups have vowed to continue to fight the project and will take their concerns to Canberra.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-06/minister-dismisses-concerns-over-uranium-mine-approval/6286908
Australia Silently Stopped Testing of Food Imports http://fukushima-news-en.senmasa.com/post/112680359130/australia-silently-stopped-testing-of-food-imports [Mathaba News Network]Australia has ceased all testing of food imports from Japan, other Asian countries food also contaminated, ongoing leakages from Fukushima nuclear plant The north Pacific Ocean is already contaminated by large amounts of toxins and pollution from dumping .
Why Don’t Australia and Europe Test Food for Radiation Contamination from Fukushima and Chernobyl? Living Safe, Nicole Moir, 8 Nov 14, I am bringing this important issue to the forefront over and over again as I want, as do many others, for the Australian and European government to take steps to protect us from radiation in food and raw ingredients. I have spent the last few months researching into food and raw ingredients, especially certified organic products, grown and harvested from regions affected by radiation by the two huge and tragic accidents of both Chernobyl and Fukushima. Unbelievably it seems the official organic certification bodies in both Australia and Europe don’t test food and raw ingredients for radiation, but trustingly and surprisingly,
rely on the government bodies to advise them in this area and in Australia ARPANSA the government body doesn’t feel there is enough of a risk to warrant it! Radiation contamination takes hundreds of years to dissipate and not just a few years, as is the case with Fukushima and a couple decades as is the case with Chernobyl…..
The ACO pointed me in the direction of ARPANSA- Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, see my prior correspondence with them here.
a reply letter from the European Commission Unit F4.2. ………….was even more worrying, as they admit they don’t conduct regular testing, yet they admit that in the last few years they were notified of higher than acceptable levels of radiation is some wild foods grown in Italy and the Ukraine/Belarus. I knew this as I had seen articles in newspapers of radiation in certified organic blueberry jam made in Italy from imported ingredients and also high radiation in wild mushrooms imported into Switzerland.……….
Correspondence with ARPANSA and European Commission are included in this article
Northern Territory and national environment groups have pledged to fight a proposal for a new underground uranium mine within the boundaries of Kakadu National Park, arguing the proponent Energy Resources of Australia has failed to supply key details that would allow NT and federal environment ministers to make an informed assessment of the project’s economic risks.
Energy Resources of Australia, majority owned by Rio Tinto, has submitted a Draft Environment Impact Assessment prior to finalising and releasing a pre-feasibility study that contains important project details, including economic data directly relevant to the company’s unproven capacity to rehabilitate the troubled mine site.
“ERA’s financial struggles are well known to investors who have fled the depressed uranium sector in droves since Fukushima,” said Lauren Mellor of the Environment Centre NT.
“The company has lost more than $400 million since the disaster, which was directly fuelled by Australian uranium, struck in 2011.
“With rehabilitation liabilities of more than $700 million – worth more than ERA’s market value – the company has warned the ASX it may not be able to fully fund future rehabilitation. Federal and NT assessors should demand all project data be made available for public scrutiny during the assessment process.”
ERA is required to end mining and mineral processing at the Ranger mine in January 2021 and the groups are concerned that the planned new underground operation, known as Ranger 3 Deeps, would complicate and delay the company’s mandated clean up and rehabilitation period.
“Ranger has been operating inside Kakadu for more than three decades and has experienced hundreds of leaks, spills and license breaches in that time, including a major radioactive spill last year that shut the plant for six months,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney.
“The mine is ageing, failing and is overdue for retirement. But instead of a planned and costed clean up and exit plan, ERA is pushing ahead with incomplete plans for a new underground mine, playing radioactive roulette at Ranger.”
“We will actively contest any new uranium mine in Kakadu because this company has a track record of broken pipes and broken promises.
“Federal and NT Environment Ministers responsible for assessment of the Ranger 3 Deeps project should require ERA to come clean about its plans and its projections and ensure all the missing project data is provided for public scrutiny.”
Editors’ Note: Dr Gavin Mudd, Senior Environmental Engineer at Monash University and a leading expert in uranium mining , legacy mines and groundwater impacts will address a public forum at 6pm on Wednesday 5 Nov at the Groove Café in Nightcliff to discuss the complex rehabilitation challenges facing ERA at the Ranger site. Dr Mudd is also available for comment and background briefings.
CONTACT: Dr Gavin Mudd, 0419 117 494. Lauren Mellor, ECNT, 0413 534 125 or Dave Sweeney, ACF, 0408 317 812
$200m sought to rehabilitate former Rum Jungle uranium mine, ABC News 31 Oct 14 By Joanna Crothers The Department of Mines and Energy is seeking $200 million from the Federal Government to rehabilitate the former Rum Jungle mine site.
Attempts to rehabilitate the site, Australia’s first uranium mine, stem back to the 1970s.
Scientists from the Department of Mines and Energy (DoE) have been drilling at the site over the past three weeks and analysing rock samples.It is estimated that five million cubic metres of rock will need to be relocated or re-buried in two of the mine’s deepest pits.
The process is likely to take three years and cost millions, scientists say…….Uranium and copper were mined at the site from the 1950s until the site closed in 1971. Waste rock at the site was buried but it started releasing acid and metals into the nearby East Finniss River. Ms Laurencont said the rocks were larger and more oxidised than was thought.
Last year the Federal Government allocated $14 million for developing a rehabilitation plan, in addition to $8 million already spent on a preliminary plan.
Acidic drainage has plagued the site since it closed and the Finniss River is a significant fishing sport for Indigenous people and Territory anglers.
The recreational reserve now known as the Rum Jungle South Recreation Reserve was shut from 2010 until 2012 by the Northern Territory Government where some low-level radiation was detected.
The Department will present its plan of rehabilitation to the Treasury in March next year.Other plans to rehabilitate include cleaning up other areas of the site and reintroducing vegetation onto the site. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-31/mines-department-seeking-200m-to-fix-former-rum-jungle-mine/5858764
It was recently revealed that the French nuclear corporation Areva has been exploring for uranium in the Carpentaria basin in south west Cape York and the north east of the Gulf country for uranium deposits. Areva state that Australia possesses one of the largest uranium reserves in the world and that tens of thousands of hectares are of exploration interest.
Areva already have a track record in Australia. They are the same company that Kakadu Traditional Owner Jeffrey Lee refused to allow to mine on his ancestral lands. As the senior Traditional Owner of the Djok clan and senior custodian of Koongarra where uranium was found, Lee decided to never allow mining in the culturally and ecologically sensitive area.
Despite this opposition, Jeffrey Lee endured years of pressure to allow mining in the former Koongarra Project Area, long excluded from the surrounding Kakadu National Park and World Heritage area.
Turning his back on personal wealth, Lee chose to prioritise country and culture over cash stating; “I could have been a rich man. Billions of dollars… You can offer me anything but my land is cultural land.”
Only last year did the threat of uranium mining on Jeffrey’s country get laid to rest with the area finally and formally added to Kakadu. With the right to veto mining afforded to Traditional Owners in the Northern Territory under the Land Rights (NT) Act 1976, Mr Lee had the legal power to say no. Fortunately for all Australian’s – now and in the future – he exercised this power.
Unfortunately, this opportunity is not afforded to Traditional Owners under Queensland’s Aboriginal Land Act 1992. On Cape York Peninsula Areva has largely flown under the radar, and have been exploring in the Mitchell, Coleman and Gilbert river basins and areas further south and south west. …….
Clearly, the health of the Mitchell River and its tributaries affects the health of the people who rely on its waters for food, culture and lifestyle. As a healthy functioning ecosystem, the Mitchell River floodplain region is part of the real northern food bowl.
When Campbell Newman went to the 2012 state election with a ‘crystal clear’ commitment not to overturn the ban on uranium mining, Areva were already were warming up their drill rigs. Uranium mining is a dirty game and we’ve already seen severe contamination from leaks at Rio Tinto’s Ranger mine in the Northern Territory. Given the amount of wet season flooding on the Mitchell River, there is no doubt of direct risk to the Cape’s rivers from any future uranium operation.
What’s more, it seems as though the public’s right to contest and object to mining proposals is being eroded. Regardless of whether you live next door, downstream or elsewhere, your rights to contest mining proposals was diminished with the passing of the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014 in Queensland’s parliament recently. When enacted this heavy handed law will take away our rights to contest around 90% of mining projects.
Our healthy rivers and waterways are more than just unallocated commodities for the resource sector to consume and then dispose of. Our quality of life, through culture and lifestyle, depend on the life-giving water of the regions spectacular and precious river systems.
In the Mitchel River basin we are already seeing in-stream mining, a massive increase in exploration and increased sediment loads in aquatic environments. Introducing the risk of uranium contamination into the Mitchell and other rivers would be a disaster for people and country. It makes no sense to threaten the resource that sustains life with the ill-conceived and fast-tracked digging of a mineral that threatens life. http://www.acfonline.org.au/news-media/acf-opinion/uranium-new-threat-cape-york%E2%80%99s-rivers
“The agreement poses a very real risk to the environment,” says Professor Jane Kelsey, an expert on globalisation and economic regulation from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. “If Australia signs an agreement with these mechanisms in place it will make it harder for the government to put new regulations in place.”
That includes any subsidies we might put on renewable energy, or protection we might put in place to save an endangered species.”
Kelsey. “The Abbott government is basically be binding the hands of all future governments on environmental issues.”
So what is the likelihood of Australia ending up signing the agreement as it stands? Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated he’s extremely supportive of signing the deal, and Andrew Robb, has stated that negotiations are in the final stages and the treaty is“ready to be sealed”.
TPP: the free-trade threat to Australia’s environment, ABC 24 Oct 14 FIONA MACDONALD Australia is preparing to sign an agreement that would give international corporations the power to go over the government’s head on environmental issues. Here’s what you need to know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
STRETCHING WIDE, blue and deep, the St Lawrence River in Canada drains America’s Great Lakes to the sea. Along its shores, painted weatherboard cottages cradled by vibrant autumnal trees take in the view of the vast body of water.
This peaceful scene belies the legal battle for what lies underground along this river basin. The Canadian state of Quebec is being sued for CAD$250 million of taxpayers’ money after putting a pause on fracking.
To be clear, Quebec hasn’t decided to ban fracking, it’s simply asked for time to conduct environmental studies to find out whether the process is safe — but mining company Lone Pine Resources has taken the government to an international court, claiming it’s lost millions of dollars in profits as a result of the snap decision.
And if previous trials are anything to go by, there’s a good chance Lone Pine will win, even if it turns out fracking is dangerous to the environment and public health.
It sounds crazy, but it’s legal. And under an agreement Australia is set to sign within 12 months, companies operating in Australia will be able to sue the Government if it makes decisions that hurt their profits — for example, putting in new policies to protect the environment. Continue reading
Graziers on alert as uranium exploration looms ABC News, By Jacqueline Breen 19 Oct 14 Graziers are watching closely as the state government prepares to grant uranium exploration licenses in the state’s far west.
Last month the government overturned the ban on uranium exploration and invited six companies to apply to explore for deposits near Broken Hill, Cobar and Dubbo.
The state’s Resources and Energy Division has since held a stakeholder meeting in Broken Hill, attended by the local council, New South Wales Farmers and the West Darling Pastoralists’ Association.
Association president Chris Wilhelm says landholders will be the first affected when exploration begins and he wants their rights protected……( Map below shows areas in New South Wales where uranium deposts exist, could be explored for))
The ban on uranium mining in New South Wales remains in place. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-20/graziers-watch-closely-as-uranium-exploration-looms/5825950
A backward move for Australia’s environment: Federal govt abandons regulation to South Australia’s control
As part of its broadly criticised ‘One Stop Shop’ agenda the Federal Government has announced that its Assessment Bilateral Agreement with South Australia has been finalised and signed by both parties. The Bilateral Agreement will come into force 30 days after execution, on or about 24 October.
The Agreement allows the Commonwealth to now rely on South Australian environmental impact assessment processes in assessing ‘matters of national environmental significance’ defined under the Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This change has been widely criticised. There is significant doubt as to whether existing State regulations can actually be brought up to meet the standards required under the EPBC Act. There is also concern about whether the cash-strapped states are likely to make effective champions of our environmental assets when at the same time they are under increasing pressure to jettison environmental safeguards in order to pump through development and replenish state coffers.