Specious comparisons between Australian uranium and Saudi oil have also been made by former South Australia premier Mike Rann, pseudo-academics Ian Plimer and Haydon Manning, Access Economics, and Comrade Paul Howes from the Australian Workers Union.
But Australia’s uranium export revenue in 2011 was 466 times lower than Saudi oil revenue in the same year − Australia would need to supply entire global uranium demand 31 times over to match Saudi oil revenue. The uranium industry accounts for 0.015 per cent of jobs in Australia, and in the 10 years from 2002-11 it accounted for just 0.29 per cent of national export revenue (with most of that revenue never coming anywhere near Australia because of the high level of foreign ownership).
The uranium industry hoped that the post-Fukushima spot price would rebound after it fell to $US50/pound … but then it fell to $US40 … and now it has fallen below $US30.
The uranium spot price fell to $US29/pound U3O8 on May 5 and has not budged since. Not since mid-2005 has the price been so low. The price is less than one-half of the pre-Fukushima price, and less than one-quarter of the price at the peak of the 2007 bubble.Uranium Investing News notes that “the phrase ‘uranium renaissance’ has been uttered so often that it has begun to feel like a bad joke”.
What’s going on?
The uranium lobby has been arguing that plans to begin restarting reactors in Japan later this year (all of Japan’s 48 reactors are currently shut-down in the wake of the Fukushima disaster) will lead to higher uranium prices. But as As FNArena notes, progress towards reactor restarts in Japan “has been glacial and anti-nuclear protest has been powerful”.
Japan’s uranium inventories probably amount to around 100 million pounds (45,400 tonnes) according to David Sadowski, a Raymond James analyst.
Sadowski added that many utilities around the world “are sitting on near-record piles” of uranium. It could take a decade or more before Japanese utilities exhaust existing inventories.
China is buying uranium − but is now sitting on stockpiles sufficient to meet current annual consumption eight times over. The uranium lobby hoped that the December 2013 end of a US-Russian agreement to downblend weapons uranium for use in power reactors would stimulate a price increase. But the spot price has fallen 17 per cent this year alone.
French state-controlled nuclear group Areva’s first-quarter revenue from its uranium mining unitfell 63 per cent. The mining arm of Russia’s state-controlled utility Rosatom has frozen uranium expansion projects in Russia and elsewhere (hence the Honeymoon mine in South Australia has been put into care-and-maintenance). Canadian giant Cameco has abandonedits earlier uranium production growth targets (and scaled back uranium exploration and development work in Australia). In 2012 BHP Billiton cancelled its planned expansion of Olympic Dam in South Australia and disbanded its uranium division. Wannabe uranium miner Marathon Resources gave up on the uranium game last year, stating that the “risks were more likely to exceed rewards”. Energy Resources of Australia is struggling with the political and economic fallout of a December 2013 leach tank collapse at the Ranger mine in the Northern Territory resulting in the spillage of 1.4 million tonnes of radioactive slurry; the collapse of a ventilation shaft a few weeks ago; and the revelations of a whistleblower published in the Mining Australiamagazine on May 5.
Australian-based Paladin Energy operated two mines in Africa but production at one of those mines has been suspended and the company is at risk of going bankrupt. As Paladin Energy chief executive John Borshoff said last July, “the uranium industry is definitely in crisis”.
A nuclear insider’s view
Just about everyone in and around the uranium industry consoles themselves with the thought that uranium prices will have to rebound sooner or later to stimulate new production, which will be required even if global nuclear power capacity continues to stagnate. A contrary view comes from Steve Kidd, an independent consultant and economist with 17 years of work at the World Nuclear Association and its predecessor, the Uranium Institute.
Writing in the Nuclear Engineering International Magazine on May 6, Kidd states that “the case made by the uranium bulls is in reality full of holes” and he predicts “a long period of relatively low prices, in which uranium producers will find it hard to make a living”……http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/5/29/energy-markets/uranium-%E2%88%92-how-low-can-it-go
Strange time to suggest a LEGO nuclear future for Australia , Independent Australia, Noel Wauchope 21 April 2014, By 2022, Australia could have many “Lego-like” small nuclear reactors in operation, dotted about the nation. This is being proposed now, not just by the long-term fervent believers in Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), but in formal submissions to the coming Energy White Paper.
Last month, the Department of Industry’s submission to the Energy White Paper pitched Small Modular Reactors as an energy solution for isolated areas in Australia, where there is no access to the electricity grid.
The Energy Policy Institute of Australia (EPI) agreed in its submission, suggesting in its submission small modular reactors (SMRs) are particularly suitable for use in mines and towns in remote locations around Australia.
The BHP-funded Grattan Institute’s submission envisages a string of these little nuclear reactors, connected to the grid, along Australia’s Eastern coast.
‘The Abbott government is being told that now is the time to flick the switch to “technology neutral,” opening the way for nuclear options.’
Orchison described the advantages of SMRs as ‘Lego-like’.
In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.
America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s. Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.
But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects………..
It should be noted that nowhere in [the original article about China, does the author] Chen mention “small” reactors. However, Australian proponents of ‘small’ reactors welcomed this article, as the Thorium Small Nuclear Reactor is the favourite type proposed for Australia from all 15 possible small designs.
So, while we’re being told that China is racing ahead in the scramble to get these wonderful SMRs, in fact, China has been very much encouraged and helped into this by the U.S. Department of Energy.
This is understandable, seeing that for China it is a government project, with no required expectation of being commercially viable.
In their enthusiasm for China’s thorium nuclear project, writers neglected to mention the sobering points that Stephen Chen made in his South China Morning Post article, such as:
- ‘Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented ‘war-like’ pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve.’
- ‘… opposition from sections of the Chinese public.’
- ‘… technical difficulties – the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals that could damage the reactor.’
- ‘The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.’
- ‘… engineering difficulties .…The thorium reactors would need years, if not decades, to overcome the corrosion issue.’
- ‘These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers.’……….
Australia’s SMR enthusiasts discount the known problems of SMRs. Some brief reminders from the September 2013 report, from the United States’ Institute for Energy and Environmental Research:
- ‘Economics: $90 billion manufacturing order book could be required for mass production of SMRs …the industry’s forecast of relatively inexpensive individual SMRs is predicated on major orders and assembly line production.’
- ‘SMRs will lose the economies of scale of large reactors.’
- ‘SMRs could reduce some safety risks but also create new ones.’
- ‘It breaks, you bought it: no thought is evident on how to handle SMR recalls.’
- Not a proliferation solution. ‘The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.’
- Not a waste solution: ‘The fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products like technetium-99 (half-life over 200,000 years).’
- Ongoing technical problems. ……….http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/strange-timing-to-suggest-a-lego-nuclear-future-for-australia,6404
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) launched the Australians for Coal website on Monday, before a television advertisement campaign, in order to extol the economic benefits of coal. The MCA has said the “silent majority” of Australians support coal, as opposed to a small but vocal group of anti-coal activists.
The site urges supporters to email their local MPs with a template letter that calls upon them to support the mining industry, which is “under attack from activists and extremists”.
When users enter a postcode, the website attributes their letter to all MPs in their home state, rather than just their local MP.
But the letters are also forwarded to “anti-coal activists”, with the Australian Conservation Foundation and Friends of the Earth confirming receipt of 28 emails. It is understood Greenpeace and anti-coal group Quit Coal were also sent emails. The emails sent to the environmental groups display each supporter’s name, postcode and email address. The emails to the non-government organisations abruptly stopped on Monday.
“It’s a really bizarre strategy – I now have these people’s names, emails and postcodes,” said Cam Walker, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “From go to woe this has been a pretty sloppy campaign.”
Walker said the MCA’s campaign had been “soundly trounced” by a largely critical reaction on social media……Bandt, the deputy leader of the Greens, said: “One of the emails came from Dame Gina Rinehart, so I’m not sure of its authenticity.
“The coal barons are terrified and rightly so. Coal is the next asbestos or tobacco and big coal is trying to fight that. I’m pleased this campaign has galvanised people who want to phase out coal.
“If everyday Australians love coal so much, why have one million of them put solar panels on their roofs? People are voting with their feet.”………
The MCA didn’t respond to questions put to it by Guardian Australia.http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/18/australians-for-coal-sent-supporters-letters-to-environmental-groups
Arclight 1 April 14 Australia and the UK covered up Fukushima using the Science Media centres with a small group of UK and Australian hand picked scientists..
The Science media centre (SMC) in the UK makes the BBC put on 1 of the 99 per cent who think there is a problem, with 1 climate denier from the remaimng 1 percent..
The UK government tells the SMC to manage the news..
The SMC is pro fracking and pro GMO too!
basically pro big buisness…
I think you were too kind with Cameron, Christina. The UK is managing climate change by saying it will be too far into the future to have any immediate effects. even after the weird weather and flooding we have been having in the UK over the winter. Also, they are commissioning some weather modification studies and has asked the SMC to deal with it.. So no articles on weather modification..
The SMC is funded and supported by petroleum, nuclear, pharma, BBC and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC UK) etc etc
follow the money! The SMC did
Great comments! I hope the refrigeration is solar!!
Fukushima apologies and apologists Jim Green, Climate Spectator, 12 March 2014 “…..Nuclear apologists Sadly, nuclear apologists have been slow to apologise for peddling misinformation. Adelaide-based nuclear advocate and conspiracy theorist Geoff Russell and Adelaide University’s Barry Brook insist that the Fukushima disaster was “deathless” despite a growing number of scientific studies giving the lie to that claim.
Last year the World Health Organisation released a report which concluded that for people in the most contaminated areas in Fukushima Prefecture, the estimated increased risk for all solid cancers will be around 4% in females exposed as infants; a 6% increased risk of breast cancer for females exposed as infants; a 7% increased risk of leukaemia for males exposed as infants; and for thyroid cancer among females exposed as infants, an increased risk of up to 70% (from a 0.75% lifetime risk up to 1.25%).
Estimates of the long-term cancer death toll include:
- a Stanford University study that estimates “an additional 130 (15-1100) cancer-related mortalities and 180 (24-1800) cancer-related morbidities”;
- an estimate of 1000-3000 cancer deaths by physicist Ed Lyman (based on an estimated collective whole-body radiation dose of 3.2 million person-rem to the population of Japan); and
- an estimate of around 3000 cancer deaths, from radiation biologist and independent consultant Dr Ian Fairlie.
Indirect deaths must also be considered, especially those resulting from the failure of TEPCO and government authorities to develop and implement adequate emergency response procedures. A September 2012 editorial in Japan Times noted that 1632 deaths occurred during or after evacuation from the triple-disaster; and nearly half (160,000) of the 343,000 evacuees were dislocated specifically because of the nuclear disaster. A January 2013 article in The Lancet notes that “the fact that 47 per cent of disaster-related deaths were recognised in Fukushima prefecture alone indicates that the earthquake-triggered nuclear crisis at the Fukushima power plant caused extreme hardship for local residents.”
In Fukushima Prefecture, 1656 people have died as a result of stress and other illnesses caused by the 2011 disaster according to information compiled by police and local governments and reported last month. That number exceeds the 1607 people in Fukushima Prefecture who were drowned by the tsunami or killed by the preceding earthquake.
“The biggest problem is the fact that people have been living in temporary conditions for so long,” said Hiroyuki Harada, a Fukushima official dealing with victim assistance, “People have gone through dramatic changes of their environment. As a result, people who would not have died are dying.”
The claim by Brook and Russell that Fukushima was “deathless” has no basis in truth. They ought to take a leaf from Naomi Hirose’s book, bow deeply and apologise..www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/3/12/energy-markets/fukushima-apologies-and-apologists
They’ve resuscitated the plan for South Australia as the world’s nuclear waste dump, Online opinion, Noel Wauchope, 11Feb 14 , On February 9, with exquisite timing, Terry Krieg of the Australian Nuclear Forum delivered his fourth nuclear industry advertorial, on ABC Radio’s Ochkams Razor. Exquisite timing, because the South Australian election is on March 15, and Krieg’s talk on this prestigious science program is the latest effort of that State’s nuclear lobby to get their cause up as an election issue……. Labor and Liberal contenders are being very low-key about nuclear and uranium issue. The Herald Sun reports
Jay Weatherill : No (chance that SA will have a nuclear industry). I think it’s a dangerous distraction.
Marshall:, the Opposition doesn’t have a nuclear energy division, it’s a potential for the future but I think it would be a long way off.
South Australia’s nuclear push is undeterred.
Krieg presented a “timeline for how South Australia should embrace nuclear energy in the next three decades” . The plan includes Officer Basin as the world’s nuclear waste dump.This would be the first step to the full nuclear fuel cycle. BHP should help the State government to set up an infrastructure development program, and a nuclear education program in schools.and universities. ….
In 2013-2014 a new distinctly South Australian push has taken up the torch. Terry Krieg, from Port Lincoln, is just one of many……the heartland of Australia’s nuclear fuel cycle promotion is Adelaide……
Nathan Paine Chief Commercial Officer at the Property Council of Australia said: “The development of a domestic nuclear power sector could turn us into the “Dubai of Asia”. You’d almost be able to give every South Australian … when they turn 18, a cheque for $50,000 and a house”
Chris Burns, Rundle Mall Management Authority chairman said “What we’ve got unique resources for in this state are for nuclear energy… Never sell it, only lease it and bring it back here to bury it. I think that’s the industry for the state.”
I don’t know why this diverse group of people is so passionately in favour of the full nuclear power cycle and radioactive waste dumping for South Australia. I can only suppose that they see South Australia as an economically depressed State, and therefore envisage the nuclear developments as some kind of financial bonanza for the State.
I ponder that some academics might get a kind of glorious fame, in being Australia’s only climate “experts” who advocate nuclear power.
It distresses me that only one of people mentioned has any expertise in health and ionising radiation, nor in ecology. That person is Professor Pamela Sykes,who has been co-opted by the USA Department of Energy to try to prove how healthy low dose radiation is. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=16012&page=1
a community that is well-informed, consulted and empowered is much more likely to welcome the development of clean technology, and reject the offerings of anti-wind groups selling a narrative of fear and danger..
The theory of wind turbine syndrome was not sourced from empirical scientific investigation – it was borne of a heady mix of human nature and vested interests,
stew of sentiment and pseudoscience bubbles below the surface, and the link need only be completed by motivated and well-funded lobby groups with no desire to adhere to the bounds of scientific inquiry
Consultation is the key to curing wind turbine syndrome KETAN JOSHI ABC Environment3 FEB 2014 Joshi 7 MAY 2013 Wind turbine syndrome is a symptom of a community that feels it has lost control. It has very little to do with wind farms and ‘infrasound’. PRIME MINISTER TONY ABBOTT’S intention to open a fresh investigation into the vexed issue of ‘wind turbine syndrome’ hasn’t impressed many.
Mick Vagg, SeniorLecturer at Deakin University wrote that ‘there is no scientific justification for any further investigation of ‘wind turbine syndrome'”.
Reader riposte: N enrichment in Australia and beyond http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2014/01/20/Reader-riposte-N-enrichment-in-Australia-and-beyond.aspx 20 January 2014 Richard Broinowski writes:In his speculative piece on a regional uranium enrichment plant in Australia, John Carlson gets a few things wrong.
First, it is inaccurate to suggest that but for Labor’s opposition, Australia might now be well on the way to establishing a uranium enrichment facility. Whitlam’s Minister for Minerals and Energy, RFX Connor, very much wanted to establish such a plant. Only Whitlam’s untimely fall from grace following the Khemlani affair brought Connor’s plans to a halt.
Nor can opposition to such a scheme only be laid at the feet of Labor. McMahon scotched Gorton’s plans for a nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay in 1971-72. Mindful of deep and pervasive suspicion of nuclear technology in the Australian community, many Liberal politicians continue to be extremely coy about giving any support for an Australian nuclear industry.
Second, on what grounds does John assert that the Asia Pacific is a major growth area in nuclear power? Continue reading
In Australia, the figures are very clear. A majority of Australians accept that humans are causing global warming. John Howard is simply wrong with regard to Australia
Are most Australians really climate ‘agnostics’? Guardian, Alex White, 20 Jan 14, Former Prime Minister John Howard claimed Australians had “settled into a state of sustained agnosticism” on climate change. Is this true? Last year, former conservative Australian prime minister John Howard gave a speech at the climate-change denying Global Warming Policy Foundation in London.
In his speech, he derided climate change mitigation advocates as “alarmists” and “zealots” for whom “the cause has become a substitute religion”. He also said that politicians should not heed the advice of scientists when making policy, and repeated the denialist line that climate change was natural: “Of course the climate is changing. It always has,” he said. Continue reading
The argument put by Lindsay back in 2008 is identical to that put by Tony Abbott’s chief business advisor Maurice Newman in recent columns, the latest only a few weeks ago
Mont Pelerin Society Revealed As Home To Leading Pushers Of Climate Science Denial DESMOGBLOG.COM, GRAHAM READFEARN, 14 JAN 14 THERE’S a popular talking point coming from climate change denialists that all people who accept the science and the need to act on it are somehow blinded by faith.
In Australia, climate science contrarian columnists can barely touch their keyboards without typing out the words “global warming faith” or explaining how human-caused global warming is some sort of “new religion”.
This “climate religion” narrative often goes hand-in-hand with another favourite denialist talking point where climate scientists are only doing what they do because there’s a dollar in it.
Presumably the laws of physics, the melting ice sheets, the increasing risk of bushfires, the hottest decades on record and the acidifying oceans are also waiting for their cash.
Newman has described climate scientists as being a “global warming priesthood” and belonging to a new “religion”. In a second opinion column in two weeks in The Australian, Newman repeats his cynicism over the IPCC and climate scientists, describing them as a “cartel” that “will deny all contrary evidence”. Newman even repeats the myth that in the 1970s scientists were certain the world was heading for global cooling, when in fact, as this study shows, a healthy majority of scientific papers were predicting the opposite. ……
In Australia, Mont Pelerin Society members include Continue reading
Mr Abbott’s recent comments about the project prompted the state government to contact the company again, but it responded by saying its plans had not changed.
BHP Billiton put the $30 billion expansion, which would have created the world’s largest open-cut mine, on hold late last year, declaring it unviable
Olympic Dam no SA panacea: business leaders FINANCIAL REVIEW, 24 DEC 2013 JOANNA MATHER It would be a mistake to view expansion of BHP’s Olympic Dam mine as the panacea to South Australia’s economic woes, business leaders contributing to a post-Holden jobs and growth plan have warned.
Maurice Crotti, the managing director of iconic SA business San Remo, said the state needed to seize opportunities in a range of areas, including food manufacturing. Continue reading
Mr Parnell said nuclear power did not have to be pushed into a survey about alternative energy” Lumping nuclear energy in with low-carbon technologies is just wrong,”
Anger after nuclear option placed on alternative energy survey news.com.au DECEMBER 22, 2013 NUCLEAR power has been put on the table in a survey that asks country South Australians about their preferred alternative energy options.
The survey, commissioned by Regional Development Australia, asks residents in the Yorke Peninsula and the Mid North to respond to a “community preferences survey” regarding their views on solar panels, solar farms, nuclear, household, wind turbines, wind farms, hydro, geothermal facilities, waste-to-energy/plant and biomass plants.
RDA, funded by federal and state governments as well as the region’s local councils, states on its website that the survey is part of a “project to determine how best to prepare the region for renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies as part of the state’s climate change adaptation strategy”.
But Greens MLC Mark Parnell slammed the survey and said the proponents, the region’s councils, had been pushing an anti-wind generation agenda. Continue reading
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill is calling Abbott’s comments “a cruel hoax” as Weatherill claims to have spoken with BHP management last week and there was no indication of any plans to resume expansion of the mine.
Australia’s promise to assist BHP with its Olympic Dam expansion a “cruel hoax” Resource Clips, by Cecilia Jamasmie | December 16, 2013 | Reprinted by permission of MINING.com The Australian government has vowed to help BHP Billiton NYE:BHP, the world’s largest mining company, go ahead with an estimated $33-billion expansion of its Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine, shelved last year as metal prices sank and costs rose.
1998 Both ANSTO and the government have sought to cloak rational discussion about the costs and benefits of a reactor under a dishonest claim that the reactor is vital for nuclear medicine. In fact medical isotopes can be easily obtained from a global market which already supplies many Australian hospitals.
a senior government bureaucrat who was quoted on the same ABC radio program saying: “The government decided to push the whole health line, and that included appealing to the emotion of people. … So it was reduced to one point, and an emotional one at that. They never tried to argue the science of it, the rationality of it”.ABC radio on March 29, 1998
The medical isotope rhetoric has become so implausible that the government is itself backing away from it. The parliamentary Public Works Committee produced a bipartisan report in August 1999 which said: “A number of organisations and individuals challenged the need for a research reactor based on a requirement to produce medical radiopharmaceuticals. … The Committee recognises that this issue has not been resolved satisfactorily.”
In fact, a nuclear reactor is likely to commit Australia decisively to the “nuclear club” by ensuring a seat on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA regulates the world’s nuclear industry and is also the world’s biggest promoter of nuclear energy.
It is unclear how our national interest is served by participating in the global spread of nuclear energy with its associated risks and waste problems. Professor McKinnon, who carried out the government’s 1993 Reactor Review, agreed, stating: “There may be national advantages in not being so closely associated with IAEA stances.”http://www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear/issues/oz/lh/articles
Cyclotrons have important advantages over nuclear reactors in relation to radioactive waste and safety, and cyclotrons pose no risk in relation to weapons proliferation. The underlying reason for these advantages is that cyclotrons are powered by electricity, whereas research reactors rely on a uranium fission reaction.
Canberra’s new energy mantra: Renewables bad, demand good (excellent graphs) http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/canberras-new-energy-mantra-renewables-bad-demand-good-52964 By Giles Parkinson on 28 November 2013 The apparent antipathy of the new Australian government towards renewable energy, and its attachment to the centralised generation model, is betrayed in an unusual document on electricity prices published recently.
The “Facts on Electricity Prices” document, posted by the Department of Resources and Energy (now part of the Industry portfolio), purports to explain to consumers the reason for recent electricity price rises, and what they, and the government, can do about it.
That’s a fair enough proposition. But it is the unusual language, selective information and outdated data that raises suspicion that this document serves another purpose. Continue reading