Australian news, and some related international items

Pro Nuclear Expert John Carlson warns on selling uranium to India

India-uranium1Expert warns SA that uranium supply deal with India could end up in its nuclear weapons, Perth Now June 28, 2015  TORY SHEPHERD Sunday Mail (SA) SOUTH Australians should be concerned that uranium from their backyard could end up in Indian nuclear weapons, one of Australia’s top experts says.

John Carlson was director general of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, in the Department of Foreign Affairs, until 2010 and has held other posts on safeguarding radioactive elements.

Mr Carlson, who is pro-­nuclear, told the Sunday Mail that the treaty being worked out for Australia to sell uranium to India was flimsy, and said South Australia’s people and companies should be concerned about where the state’s uranium ended up. ndia has huge demand for cheap energy, which Australian uranium can provide, but it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is developing weapons.

Mr Carlson said India had a history of disregarding commitments it had made, had refused to meet safety standards and “is actually increasing its nuclear arsenal”.

 “They’re basically saying ‘trust us’,” he said.

“This agreement is very different to all our other agreements. There’s much less detail in it. Only India, Pakistan and North Korea are producing weapons … you’d have to think this would be a watertight agreement (but) it’s very weak.

“I think there’s a reputational issue for the industry. There’s a problem for South Australian citizens.”…….

June 28, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

The game is up for uranium miners ERA and Paladin

After 10 years of no profit, and millions in shareholder value destroyed, very few have profited from Paladin’s ongoing existence. ERA, on the other hand, was profitable up until 2010, but has gone backwards since. Neither trend is unlikely to change in the future.

thumbs-downWhat’s next for Australia’s uranium miners?  Motley Fool, 24 June 15 Energy Resources of Australia Limited (ASX: ERA) and Paladin Energy Limited (ASX: PDN)are two of Australia’s largest independent uranium producers, but have they lived out their useful half-lives?

Some might suggest yes, following the recent news stories surrounding ERA, which is majority owned (68%) by Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO).

You may have already seen some of the news surrounding one of Australia’s largest uranium miners, ERA, when its shares plunged 47% in early trading two weeks ago. That reaction was due to the company’s decision to cancel its Ranger 3 Deeps project thanks to continued low uranium prices, and ongoing uncertainty over the uranium market’s direction in the immediate future.

ERA owned and operated the Ranger mine, which is surrounded by the Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory. But the decision to not proceed with the Ranger 3 Deeps project means the mine holds very little value for ERA, Rio or anyone else wanting to mine uranium. Without Ranger 3 Deeps, ERA is processing stockpiled ore. What the company will do when that runs out is anybody’s guess. Continue reading

June 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

The end of big uranium mining projects in Australia

burial.uranium-industryMining exploration slump makes a new Olympic Dam unlikely, The Age, June 24, 2015  Reporter One of the key geologists involved in the discovery of BHP Billiton’s highly-regarded Olympic Dam mine says the industry’s search for another deposit of a similar scale has all but ceased as major miners reject greenfield exploration and juniors struggle to secure financing.

Douglas Haynes was one of a small fleet of young geologists working in the 1970s for Western Mining Corporation, whose innovative approach to copper exploration aided in the discovery of one of the world’s largest economic mineral deposits.

Mr Haynes told The Australian Financial Review on the sidelines of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies Convention the sustained lull in exploration activity suggested “there is no more exploration for Olympic Dams in Australia”.

“There are two things happening,” he said. “The idea of finding an ore body at 300 metres depth puts a lot of small companies off because of the starvation of capital for entrepreneurial types doing this kind of thing.” He added major miners such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were unlikely to “indulge” in large exploration programs……….

June 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Energy Resources of Australia – half of uranium company’s Board quits

Half of Australian uranium miner’s board quits after Rio shelves project SYDNEY, JUNE 22 Half of the board at uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia resigned on Monday, saying majority owner Rio Tinto’s decision to abandon work on a major mine expansion made it difficult for the company to pursue its goals.

ERA’s stock has plunged more than 70 percent since it said on June 12 that it would not proceed with the final development study for its Ranger 3 Deeps uranium project in northern Australia due to low uranium prices.

Uranium prices have tumbled since the March 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant. Japan has idled its entire industry in response, exacerbating a worldwide supply glut.

Three ERA directors, including Chairman Peter McMahon, resigned, leaving the board with just three members, the company said in statement. ERA, a separately listed division in which Rio Tinto holds a 68.4 percent stake, said a search for replacement directors had been approved.

Rio has said it may have to book a $300 million charge relating to its stake in ERA after the Ranger 3 project was shelved. (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

June 24, 2015 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Investors flee Energy Resources of Australia as its uranium mining plans stop

graph-down-uraniumERA shares in death spiral as prospects slashed, SMH, June 15, 20 Peter Ker The uranium miner operating beside Kakadu National Park may have zero chance of restarting mining at the site, according to UBS analyst Glyn Lawcock.

Speaking after shares in Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) lost more than 48 per cent of their value on Friday, Mr Lawcock said the decision to abandon plans for an expansion of the Ranger mine warranted a downgrading of the stock to a “sell” rating.

Many ERA shareholders were doing just that on Monday, with the stock falling a further 25.4 per cent or 17¢ to close at 50¢.

ERA shares were worth $1.29 at market close on Thursday, prior to ERA announcing that it would not go ahead with an underground expansion at the Ranger mine. That expansion, called “Ranger 3 Deeps”, was the only chance of future mining at Ranger, where mining of the third pit ceased in 2011……

Rio Tinto has offered to cover the shortage of funds to complete the rehabilitation, but it is believed that offer is conditional on ERA ruling out any further development at Ranger, something ERA is not yet willing to do……

The funding shortfall for the rehabilitation is believed to be close to $200 million, although Mr Drew speculated it could be as high as $500 million.

Uranium prices have been depressed since the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in March 2011, and that weakness was one of the major reasons why the underground expansion was abandoned….

June 17, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium glut, Ranger shutdown, leave Rio Tinto with $300M writedown

scrutiny-on-costsRio Tinto mulls $300M writedown as uranium mine expansion cancelled,  Cecilia Jamasmie | June 12, 2015 Mining giant Rio Tinto (LON, ASX:RIO) is contemplating to take a writedown of about $300 million after its subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia (ASX:ERA) decided to cancel plans to expand a uranium mine.

ERA, in which Rio has a 68.4% stake, said on Thursday that it would not proceed with the final feasibility study of its Ranger 3 Deeps uranium project in Australia’s Northern Territory, citing weak market conditions.

The decision underscores the ongoing strains in the nuclear industry following the Fukushima meltdown in 2011, which prompted Japan to mothball its 43 operable reactors, causing uranium prices to drop as a result of a worldwide supply glut……..

June 12, 2015 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Mirarr Traditional Owners of the Ranger Uranium Mine area oppose any further uranium mining

handsoffGundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, 12 June 15 The Mirarr Traditional Owners of the Ranger Uranium Mine area and the site of the proposed Jabiluka uranium mine release this statement following yesterday’s announcements by Energy Resources of Australia and Rio Tinto that ERA will not at this time proceed with the final feasibility study of the proposed Ranger 3 Deeps underground mine.

The Mirarr and the GAC welcome the clarity that yesterday’s announcements provide in terms of the present viability of the Ranger Three Deeps project. We are also pleased that both companies now publicly recognise the importance of adequately financing the rehabilitation of the Ranger site.

First and foremost in our minds is ensuring the permanent protection of the natural and cultural values for which Kakadu is inscribed World Heritage. We need to see a concrete and comprehensive commitment and plan for the clean-up of Kakadu; that commitment and planning needs to start today.

Mirarr have maintained ongoing dialogue with ERA and governments throughout this process and notwithstanding today’s announcement will continue to talk through all relevant issues as necessary. However, as things stand today we will not support any extended term of mining at Ranger beyond 2021.

We take this position because of our experience of 30 years of environmental and cultural impacts at Ranger and because in our talks with Rio Tinto and the Australian government we have been given no guarantee that Ranger will be the last uranium mine in Kakadu. The Mirarr remain fundamentally opposed to Jabiluka’s development – that opposition is intergenerational. We are concerned about the lack of adequate planning for Jabiluka’s final rehabilitation and its incorporation into Kakadu National Park. ____________________________________________________________________________________ For further information contact 08 8979 2200 / 0427 008 765

June 12, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Ranger 3 Deeps cancellation should spell end of an ERA for uranium mining in Kakadu

kakaduNorthern Territory and national environment groups have welcomed the announcement that a planned underground uranium mine in Kakadu – Energy Resources of Australia’s Ranger 3 Deeps project – has been cancelled.

“ERA’s move to abandon plans for an underground expansion at Ranger is an overdue acknowledgement that the underground mine plan lacked economic and environmental sense. It is also a significant step towards the end of uranium mining in Kakadu,” said Nuclear-Free campaigner Lauren Mellor.

Local and national environment groups have for long called for ERA and parent company Rio Tinto to commit to the rehabilitation of the Ranger site and have welcomed that ERA’s ASX announcement has now accepted it needs to secure adequate rehabilitation funding.

“We welcome the fact that ERA has sought an assurance from its parent company Rio Tinto that the required clean-up costs will come at the expense of the company and not the public,” said ACF spokesperson Dave Sweeney.

“ERA has lost around $1 billion on the under-performing Ranger project and has left its run too late in developing the Ranger 3 Deeps proposal – with the continuing low post-Fukushima commodity price the window for uranium mining at Ranger is closing and the operation has moved from dig up to clean up.”

The groups have called for all project applications and approvals to be withdrawn and for ERA to detail its closure and clean-up plan and costings.

*ERA ASX announcement available here:

For further context and comment contact:

Lauren Mellor, Environment Centre NT on 0413 534 125

Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation on 0408 317 812

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Energy Resources of Australia(ERA) announces it is not proceeding with Ranger uranium min eexpansion

Ranger-3Uranium miner Energy Resources Australia pulls plug on 3 Deeps expansion, ABC News 11 June 15   Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) will not proceed with its proposed 3 Deeps expansion project at the present time, the company has announced to the stock exchange.

In a statement, the company said the uranium market has not improved like ERA had previously expected and there is uncertainty as to what prices would do in the future.

The company also said the mine only had the authority to operate until 2021, and the economics of the project required certainty beyond that point. Those conditions meant ERA would not proceed to a final feasibility study at this time, the statement said. ERA will continue to “process stockpiles and meet obligations to its customers”, the statement said.

The 3 Deeps expansion would have seen the Ranger Uranium Mine commence underground operations for the first time. Its current operations are open-cut.

ERA said it had engaged its major shareholder, Rio Tinto, about funding to rehabilitate the mine site, which is completely ensconced by Kakadu National Park.

The company previously said rehabilitation was funded under its current business plan, but if the 3 Deeps expansion did not go ahead it would require another source of funding to pay for all of the rehabilitation works……

June 12, 2015 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

BHP CEO hypes up Olympic Dam uranium mine – but also hedges his bets with a plug for renewables

BHPB-Olympic-SmBHP says Olympic Dam expansion is ‘game on’ THE AUSTRALIAN   JUNE 12, 2015 BHP Billiton chief executive ­Andrew Mackenzie has declared the Olympic Dam expansion is “game on” but admits there are technical and manufacturing ­hurdles that must be worked out before final approval is given to the giant project…….

The ­upgraded production ­targets at Olympic Dam would make it the second-largest copper mine in the world after giving the uranium and gold output an equivalent copper value, and it would be the world’s largest producer of uranium……..

BHP exports uranium to China and Japan for power generation but it would not reveal the value or volume of its annual sales. The miner is expected to make a submission shortly to the ­Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in South Australia on ­uranium mining……

[But I note that  CEO Andrew Mackenzie hedges his bets a bit: -]

….China relies on fossil fuels for 80 per cent of its power generation but has put in place strict reductions on coal to help ease the pollution crisis and increase the consumption of renewable energy.

“A move to renewable energy (in China) is good for our copper business. Copper is a material that will do well in a world that puts a greater accent on renewable energy. The quicker you can get thermal energy into the form of electrical energy the better in terms of efficiency and the best relatively affordable conductor is copper,” Mr Mackenzie said. “Part of the strength of our portfolio is that we are reasonably flexible as to what path China and other nations choose towards decarbonising their energy…”


June 12, 2015 Posted by | South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Paladin (apparently not Australian owned) signs Western Australian uranium deal

uranium-orePaladin signs uranium land deal MICHAEL RODDAN BUSINESS SPECTATOR JUNE 01, 2015 Uranium miner Paladin Energy will pay $16 million for land containing a uranium deposit as the group looks to enhance the value of its neighbouring project.

Paladin (PDN) will take over Energia Minerals’ Carley Bore uranium project in north west Western Australia for $15.8 million in cash and shares.

The Carley Bore project in the Carnarvon Basin consists of three connected exploration licenses, located 100km south of Paladin’s Manyingee uranium project, and will increase the miner’s mineral resources in the area by more than 30 per cent……….But the miner has said it will not develop any new projects before it is confident of a sustainable uranium price of at least $US70 a pound. The material has traded between $US34 and $US40 a pound this year.

“The current low uranium price and sustained sector weakness have created an opportunity to consolidate our portfolio in strategically important regions,” Paladin chief executive John Borshoff said.

The takeover is subject to regulatory approval by the Foreign Investment review Board, as Paladin is deemed to be a foreign corporation under Australian law.

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

Uranium market down the gurgler again, and AREVA nuclear giant in trouble

graph-down-uraniumUranium’s Glow Still Smothered by Safety Concerns Wall Street Daily,  Fri, May 15, 2015  |  , Commodity Strategist Just when it looked like it was time to jump back into the uranium market, prices have faltered yet again.

Uranium prices have taken a turn for the worse due to a combination of factors that pulled the floor from underneath the commodity.

Back in November 2014, prices spiked from $28 per pound to $44 per pound. This was largely due to the sanctions imposed on Russia after the annexation of Crimea, thus portending a supply shortage.

But the price is currently close to $35 per pound. And technical indicators are pointing south once again……..

France was so confident in its atomic energy capabilities that, about 10 years ago, the French nuclear establishment made a bet on a new generation of reactors using European pressurize reactor (EPR) technology. These reactors were touted as the safest and most powerful ever made.

antnuke-relevantBut, France isn’t living up to its promises. New plants that would ostensibly showcase the most cutting edge of nuclear energy prowess are years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget. Some are as much as three times more expensive than the original cost projections! At this point, many are questioning if they’ll ever be completed.

Plus, The New York Times reported on April 7 that one reactor, the Autorite de Surete Nucleaire, had discovered imperfections in the steel used by Areva (AREVA.PA) to make the caps of the main reactor vessel.

The caps contain the extreme heat, pressure, and radiation produced by nuclear fission. These same parts were used for a plant under construction in Taishan, China, which is being built in partnership with France……


May 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Despite the facts, Toro Energy’s Vanessa Guthrie optimistic about uranium market



Why believe Tor’s spin when:

Uranium prices have slumped again, with no recovery in sight?

Areva is going bankrupt   ?

Improved uranium price triggers drilling at a Central Australian prospect, ABC Rural,  NT Country Hour 15 May 15  Nathan Coates “…….Drilling at the Wiso Project 150 kilometres north-west of Barrow Creek started this week and is expected to continue for two months.

Guthrie poisoned-chalice-3Managing Director of Toro Energy, Vanessa Guthrie, said the joint venture project with Areva Resources is the result of surveys co-funded by the Northern Territory government. “The work that has commenced this week is a drill program,” she said. “We are targeting a sandstone hosted uranium paleochannel.”………She said environmental approval to start exploring near Barrow Creek had two levels.

The uranium that we might produce would be likely to go to the growing Asian markets of China and India and the mature markets of Korea and Japan. “Of course we needed Traditional Owner agreement which we’ve secured,” she said. “We also have the mine and exploration plan which was required by the Northern Territory government.”

Ms Guthrie said Toro Energy had in the past gone through environmental approval processes and they were very similar to those in the Northern Territory.

She added that the approval processes for uranium mining in the Northern Territory were “well established and quite mature.”…….

May 16, 2015 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Opposition to Australian uranium/rare earths mining company in Greenland

antnuke-relevantUranium opponents look to other sectors for job growth Opponents of uranium mining in southern Greenland have put forward a list of proposals they believe can create jobs and in the process make a highly contested mine unnecessary The Arctic Journal, May 13, 2015 – By Kevin McGwin In the town of Narsaq, on Greenland’s southern tip, debate is coming to a head over whether residents can make do without a near-by mine that will create jobs, but which some fear will make the town unliveable.

The concerns come as Greenland Minerals and Energy, an Australia-based mining outfit, closes in on final approval to begin production rare earths, a mineral vital for use in modern technologies……

in order to extract rare earths, GME will also need to mine uranium as a by-product, and that has raised fears, particularly among farmers, sheep farmers and those making a living off tourism, that dust from the open-pit facility will taint the region’s soil and water, and in the process spoil the region’s image. Continue reading

May 16, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths, uranium | Leave a comment

World Bank warns Malawi not to re-open Paladin Australia’s uneconomic uranium mine

thumbs-downMalawi warned against reopening uranium mine May 12, 2015   – The World Bank has warned Malawi against reopening its only uranium mine, saying the project should be put on hold until global prices improve.

Australia mining company, Paladin Energy, is developing Malawi’s only uranium mine, the Kayelekera uranium mine, in Karonga, northern Malawi. The project was initial suspended in 2014 because of the then unfavourable price climate, but there are indications that the company plans to resume operations in the coming months. “Whether or not the mine at Kayelekera eventually resumes operations will depend primarily on future prospects for global uranium prices, for which the immediate outlook is uncertain,” the World Bank told Malawi in its latest report.Uranium from mining is used almost entirely as fuel for nuclear power plants.

In 2013, Malawi was ranked as the third largest producer of uranium in Africa and tenth in the world. It is behind Namibia and Niger in Africa.

Last year, uranium global prices crashed to $36, from $51 per pound. This posed a major setback to Paladin Energy Africa, having invested heavily on the premise that prices will climb to $70. The Kayelekera uranium deposit was discovered by UK’s CEGB firm and a feasibility study was subsequently undertaken in the 1980s. Paladin acquired the deposit in 1997, accepted a Bankable Feasibility Study early in 2007, and, following environmental approval, undertook a $220 million development. The mine was opened in April 2009.

Paladin Energy (Africa) Ltd holds Paladin’s 85 percent interest following the Development Agreement with the Government of Malawi in control of the remaining 15 percent. Kayelekera production commenced in mid-2009, and in 2012 production reached 1103 tU, followed by 1134 tU in 2013.

May 13, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment


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