Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Ben ­Lomond uranium mine – unsafe in the past, unsafe now

safety-symbolMine safety ‘an impossibility’ JOSH ALSTON TOWNSVILLE BULLETIN JULY 15, 2014  TERRORIST cells like Al-Qaeda could target Townsville for uranium to power their nuclear weapons if the controversial Ben Lomond mine is reopened 40km from the city, according to deputy mayor Vern Veitch……

Cr Veitch, who will address an anti-uranium protest rally in Townsville later this month, said he believed that aside from the “extreme consequences” for Townsville if something went wrong at the mine, it could invite terrorists into our backyard.

“There is a risk nuclear products could fall into the wrong hands in the Middle East or Eastern Asia,” he said.

Cr Veitch said “there is always that possibility,” that the uranium mine could make Townsville a target for terrorists. Especially with the large military base (at Lavarack).”…….

With any uranium mining operations at Ben ­Lomond certain to include a highly radioactive tailings dam, he said it was an “impossibility” to ensure safety at the mine in a tropical region prone to cyclones.

“They definitely haven’t been able to contain spills in tropical Australia and I think it would be an impossibility at this location,” he said.

“The State Mining Warden of the time closed it down (in 1981) because they considered it unsafe … what makes it safe now?……

Citizens Against Mining Ben Lomond spokesman David Sewell fears radioactive materials could be transported via the city to the port and then on to the Great Barrier Reef.

The protest march will start at 9.30am on July 27 on the grassed area behind the Picnic Bay Surf Life Saving Club.

July 19, 2014 Posted by | Queensland, safety, uranium | Leave a comment

In Australia Nuclear interests trump aboriginal rights

The nuclear war against Australia’s Aboriginal people, Ecologist  Jim Green 14th July 2014 Nuclear war“……….Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a significant battle for country and culture, but the problems and patterns of radioactive racism persist. Racism in the uranium mining industry involves: ignoring the concerns of Traditional Owners; divide-and-rule tactics; radioactive ransom; ‘humbugging’ Traditional Owners (exerting persistent, unwanted pressure); providing Traditional Owners with false information; and threats, including legal threats.

One example concerns the 1982 South Australian Roxby Downs Indenture Act, which sets the legal framework for the operation of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine in SA.

The Act was amended in 2011 but it retains exemptions from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Traditional Owners were not even consulted. The SA government’s spokesperson in Parliament said:

“BHP were satisfied with the current arrangements and insisted on the continuation of these arrangements, and the government did not consult further than that.”

That disgraceful performance illustrates a broader pattern. Aboriginal land rights and heritage protections are feeble at the best of times. But the legal rights and protections are repeatedly stripped away whenever they get in the way of nuclear or mining interests.

Nuclear interests trump aboriginal rights

Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed.

New South Wales legislation exempts uranium mines from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act. The Western Australian government is in the process ofgutting the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 at the behest of the mining industry.

Native Title rights were extinguished with the stroke of a pen to seize land for a radioactive waste dump in SA, and Aboriginal heritage laws and land rights were repeatedly overridden with the push to dump nuclear waste in the NT.

Most of those laws are supported by the Liberal / National Coalition and Labor. Radioactive racism in Australia enjoys bipartisan support.

Muckaty Traditional Owners have won a famous victory, but the nuclear war against Aboriginal people continues – and it will continue to be resisted, with the Aboriginal-ledAustralian Nuclear Free Alliance playing a leading role Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, Australia, and editor of Nuclear Monitor.

Nuclear Monitor has been publishing deeply researched, often strongly critical articles on all aspects of the nuclear cycle since 1978. A must-read for all those who work on this issue!   http://www.wiseinternational.org/node/36  http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2476704/the_nuclear_war_against_australias_aboriginal_people.html

July 19, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Regulators to decide on Cameco’s Kintyre uranium mine, but not economically viable now

Cameco: Australia Regulator to Rule on Uranium Mine Within Weeks By Stephen Bell Capiyal Gr. 16 July 14 PERTH--Canada’s Cameco Corp. (CCJ) expects Australian regulators to decide on its proposed Kintyre uranium mine within weeks, but will likely delay construction after prices of the nuclear fuel slumped to nine-year lows.

Brian Reilly, managing director of Cameco Australia, said Wednesday he expects Western Australia state’s Environmental Protection Authority to release a report into the project soon.

“The EPA is sitting on the report and recommendations–we anticipate seeing that released publicly within the next few weeks,” Mr Reilly told The Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of a uranium conference in Perth.

The regulator will make a recommendation to state and federal ministers, who will then make a final decision on whether the project can go ahead.

Mr. Reilly said Cameco hopes to “be in a position by the end of this year to have this project approved.”

However, Cameco would need uranium prices to recover sharply before starting construction of the mine. It would also look to discover more uranium reserves at the mine site.

In mid-2012, Cameco deferred development of Kintyre due to a collapse in the uranium price in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. At the time, Cameco said the project likely wouldn’t be viable if uranium prices fell below US$67 a pound.

Spot uranium prices are currently around US$28 a pound because of a slower-than expected restart of Japanese nuclear reactors idled soon after the Fukushima crisis. There has also been a build-up in global uranium inventories as nuclear facilities recycle more fuel……http://english.capital.gr/News.asp?id=2064849

July 17, 2014 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Doubts on whether ERA’s Ranger 3 uranium mine can go ahead

Technical hitches bedevil ERA’s Ranger mine by: Matt Chambers The Australian July 12, 2014  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/technical-hitches-bedevil-eras-ranger-mine/story-e6frg9df-1226986174550   URANIUM producer Energy Resources of Australia could face more problems at its Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park, flagging potential higher costs that Credit Suisse says could stop a planned underground ­expansion.

Ranger-3

The Darwin-based Rio Tinto subsidiary said its Ranger 3 Deeps exploration decline project was experiencing tougher than expected geotechnical conditions. “Some geotechnical conditions have been encountered that are less favourable than assumed,” ERA said in its June quarter report, released on Thursday.

“These findings are being factored in to the mine design and the pre-feasibility study.”

While the market was little moved by the report on Thursday, Credit Suisse analyst Matthew Hope saw red flags.“We believe the results of the Deeps resource drilling are poor,” Mr Hope said yesterday in a note to clients.“The rock is probably heavily fractured, so extensive rock bolting and meshing will likely be required to prevent the access drives from collapsing,” Mr Hope said.

Credit Suisse downgraded its rating on ERA from outperform to underperform, and cut its target price by two-thirds from $1.50 to just 50c.

Mr Hope said value in ERA was almost entirely based on whether Ranger 3 Deeps would be mined. “If ERA announces at the end of this year that Ranger Deeps is not viable, then the share price should collapse to very low levels, with only option value remaining,” he said.

“Ranger Deeps either adds value or there is close to none, and risks are increasing towards the latter.”Ranger shares slipped 0.5c to $1.16 yesterday, giving the company a market value of $600m.

July 12, 2014 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Troubled rare earths miner Lynas to move from Sydney to malaysia

rare-earth-dysprosiumNervous investors ditch Lynas ahead of move to Malaysia  July 3, 2014 The Age, Brian Robins Troubled rare-earth miner Lynas Corp is to shift its head office abroad as part of a renewed cost-cutting regime as the company seeks to stop haemorrhaging cash.

It also comes amid production difficulties at its recently commissioned Malaysian processing unit that have yet to be resolved, and as negotiations continue to refinance a key funding package.

Lynas said it would move its head office to Kuala Lumpur, from Sydney, which will result in an unspecified number of job losses, with further jobs to go at its Perth office…….Investors were unnerved by the latest news, pushing Lynas shares down 7 per cent to close at 13¢.

Lynas is not the only rare earths producer encountering ongoing problems in lifting output, with US group Molycorp also struggling to bed down a capacity expansion.

Equally important to Lynas Corp’s near-term progress is resolving negotiations to refinance a $US325 million loan, via Nomura.

There has been ”no material development” with this refinancing, a Lynas spokesman said.

To help shore up its balance sheet, Lynas recently raised $40 million from shareholders as well as replacing its chief executive.  http://www.smh.com.au/business/nervous-investors-ditch-lynas-ahead-of-move-to-malaysia-20140702-3b8so.html#ixzz36Xf4ozEk

July 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, rare earths, uranium | Leave a comment

The real cost to Queensland of uranium mining may be very high

Queensland lifts its uranium ban, but is the price worth the cost? The Conversation Maxine Newlands Lecturer in Journalism, Researcher in Environmental Politics at James Cook University Liz Tynan Senior Lecturer and Co-ordinator Research Student Academic Support at James Cook University 1 July 14, 

As of today, Queensland has lifted a 32-year ban on uranium mining. That decision was taken within months of the 2012 state election, despite Premier Campbell Newman’s pre-election promise not to restart mining the radioactive mineral.

 

Miners are being invited to apply to restart the industry under the Queensland’s government’s uranium action plan, which will mean Canadian company Mega Uranium can reopen the Ben Lomond and other mines in north Queensland.

Queensland’s resumption of uranium mining comes only days after Australia’s newest uranium mine, Four Mile in South Australia, officially opened on 25 June.

fearYet the price of uranium has fallen from a high in 2007 of US$70 a pound to $US28, due to factors including oversupplyand what the Wall Street Journal has described as a “post-Fukushima funk”.

Given the prices are so low that The Australian has reportedthat Four Mile is already losing money, while the Beverley mine has been mothballed since January, why are Australian states looking to open more mines?………….

Battles ahead over Queensland exports

The highest concentration of Queensland’s uranium mines sit in the northern tropics, an area prone to Category 5 cyclones.

A 2013 Swiss study found uranium was far more mobile than originally thought. Uranium once extracted, becomes soluble in water, increasing the chances of contamination or radioactive dust carried in high winds and heavy rainfall.

If Ben Lomond is reopened, the quickest way to export its uranium would be through the city of Townsville, home to 190,000 people, which is only 50km from the mine.

The Port of Townsville has said it has the capability to “facilitate the transportation and export of yellowcake”. The Queensland’s government’s uranium action plan recommends that:

Queensland’s efforts should be [put] on facilitating the use of existing ports and shipping lanes by industry for the export of uranium.

However, the Port of Townsville sits within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and close to sensitive environments including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, dugong protected areas, seagrass beds, fringing coral reefs and mangrove forests.

Last year, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chairman Russell Reichelt told the ABC that:

I think shipping of any toxic cargo would be of concern. But really we would have to see a proposal and we would have to consider that.

So this is set to be a contentious issue: while economic development of the north has bipartisan support at a federal, state and local government level, a number of locals and environmental groups have said they will challenge any plans to reopen uranium mines and exports from Queensland.

The big question for Queensland residents to consider now is whether the return of uranium mining to the state will be worth the wait for the uranium price to recover, given the risks attached to transporting the mineral through populated and environmentally-sensitive areas.http://theconversation.com/queensland-lifts-its-uranium-ban-but-is-the-price-worth-the-cost-28105

July 2, 2014 Posted by | environment, Queensland, uranium | Leave a comment

Costly problems, legal battles, face owners of Four Mile uranium mine

radiation-sign-sadFour Mile mine opens amid tensions between owners, World Nuclear News, 26 June 2014 The Four Mile uranium mine in South Australia was officially opened on 25 June, but its minority owner wants to sell its stake and is preparing a legal battle against the project operator…….EdwardSterck, a senior mining analyst at London-based BMO Capital Markets, said he did not think there was “any huge significance” in the opening of Four Mile. “It appears that they are using the existing Beverley plant which suggests that production from Four Mile is replacing production at Beverley,” Sterck told World Nuclear News.

Quasar Director Dave Roberts said there is remaining ore at the Beverley mine that “can and will be” extracted at a future point in time. “But today, we are dedicating the full processing capacity of Beverley to the production of Four Mile uranium,” Roberts said during TV coverage of the opening ceremony.

ACE’s parent company Melborne-based Alliance Resources announced last week it had appointed Deloitte Corporate Finance to lead the sale of its 25% stake in the project. Alliance said the sale would “free up funds” for the company to develop its exploration portfolio.

In the meantime, the court case is looming for ACE’s 2010 filing against Quasar Resources – on the basis of “misleading and deceptive conduct” – having been set for 30 June.

ACE has said it is “seeking restitution for the 75% interest in the exploration licence for Four Mile, citing, among other issues, Quasar’s failure to disclose information relating to the prospectivity of part of the tenement.” ACE also contends that Quasar, “with the assistance or participation of” its affiliate Heathgate Resources, breached its obligations under the joint venture agreement……..

ACE said in January it had elected to vote against Quasar’s revised start-up plan for the Four Mile project, which would see uranium capture at Heathgate’s Pannikan plant, and precipitation, drying and packing at Heathgate’s Beverley processing plant. ACE said the parties should instead construct a stand-alone plant at Four Mile in order to reduce operating costs. Heathgate Resources, which like Quasar is based in Adelaide, is the owner and operator of the Beverley uranium mine in the Northern Flinders Ranges.

First discovered in 2005, the Four Mile uranium deposit is 550 km north east of Adelaide in the Frome Basin. State and federal regulators approved the mining lease for the project in April 2012 and more than AUD 120 million ($113 million) has been invested so far, the government said. The mine’s owners expect to produce up to 1.6 million pounds from the mine this year, it said. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/ENF-South-Australias-Four-Mile-uranium-mine-opens-amid-tensions-between-its-owners-26061401.html

June 28, 2014 Posted by | business, legal, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Sorry tale of woe about Australia’s uneconomic uranium mines

radiation-sign-sadPrice fallout hits uranium mines THE AUSTRALIAN
JUNE 26, 2014  Sarah Martin
 Political Reporter Adelaide
 AUSTRALIA’S newest uranium mine is losing money while a second has been mothballed because of depressed prices.

The bleak outlook comes as the Four Mile uranium mine in South Australia’s northern Flinders Ranges was yesterday opened after five years of delays.

Four Mile is a joint venture project between Melbourne-based Alliance Resources and Quasar — a subsidiary of Heathgate Resources that is owned by US defence and nuclear physics company General Atomics.

The mine, which becomes Australia’s fifth and South Australia’s fourth uranium mine, began production in April to feed the processing plant at the site of the neighbouring Beverley uranium mine, also owned by Heathgate.

But the company said yesterday that the Beverley mine was no longer operational, and had been mothballed in January because of low uranium prices.

This comes after Canadian company Uranium One announced in November that it would cease production at the Honeymoon uranium mine, also in outback South Australia. Since the Fukushima incident in 2011, uranium prices have tumbled from a high of $US70 a pound to $US28.50.

Quasar director Dave Roberts said Four Mile was also “not economic” because of weak uranium prices. “We have got prices of $US28 a pound and I would expect … costs of production may be higher than that,” Mr Roberts said yesterday…….. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/price-fallout-hits-uranium-mines/story-e6frg8zx-1226966903070?nk=38b4e03626cff750bb726e65c1a3e9f4

June 26, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium | Leave a comment

Japan’s plans to restart nuclear reactors – not likely to save Paladin

graph-down-uraniumJapan to restart nuclear reactors: Will it save Paladin Energy Ltd? http://www.fool.com.au/2014/06/23/japan-to-restart-nuclear-reactors-will-it-save-paladin-energy-ltd/ By  - June 23, 2014 Plans to restart at least two of Japan’s 48 nuclear reactors could have positive implications for the price of uranium and deliver a boost to ASX-listed uranium miners, including Paladin Energy Ltd (ASX: PDN).

According to The Diplomat, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) is about to begin safety inspections on at least one power plant. Japan’s nine nuclear power companies all have plans to restart their nuclear reactors.

But with 58% of Japanese people opposing any restart, and 59% opposing the use of nuclear energy to kickstart economic growth, the government and the energy providers will have their work cut out for them. The issue for Japan is that meeting peak summer energy demand without the nuclear power plants is going to be tough.

Uranium prices have crashed since the Fukushima incident in 2011, losing a further 30% in the last year to hit US$28.15 a pound. That’s well below the cost of production for most uranium miners. And in the short to medium term the outlook is not good, with RBC Capital Markets Analysts forecasting a price of US$31.50/lb this year and US$40 for 2015. But RBC has slashed its forecasts for 2016 to 2018 to between US$40 to US$45/lb, amid expectations that the uranium market will be in surplus until 2021.

Paladin’s cost of production in the last quarter at its Langer Heinrich mine stood at US$29/lb – and that’s not the all-in sustaining cost. The company was forced to place its other main mine Kayelekera mine on care & maintenance, with its production cost running at US$32.90/lb in the last quarter.

So it appears that the tough times will continue for Paladin and other ASX-listed uranium miners, including Energy Resources of Australia Limited (ASX: ERA) – which is majority-owned by Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO). Investors may want to skip the uranium producers for now.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Energy Resources of Australia – uranium company expecting an even huger loss this time

Energy Resources of Australia expects loss http://www.marketwatch.com/story/energy-resources-of-australia-expects-loss-2014-06-05-14855444?link=MW_latest_news By Ross Kelly  SYDNEY–Uranium producer Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. expects a first-half loss of up to 140 million Australian dollars (US$130 million) after a radioactive leak halted activities at its Ranger operation in the Northern Territory.

cliff-money-A

The company, which is 68% owned by Rio Tinto PLC, said it expects to restart operations at Ranger progressively beginning Thursday after cleanup and regulator approval.

The leak of about 1 million liters of contaminated slurry, which occurred in December, was caused by toxic material eating through a steel tank involved in the process of refining ore. Investigations by authorities found the leak was contained within the mine site.

The company had already stopped mining uranium at the Ranger operation in late 2012 after its ore was depleted. But it continued to process stockpiled ore while it studied the feasibility of digging a new underground pit there called Ranger 3 Deeps.

The company expects a loss of A$120 million and A$140 million for the six months through December, in large part due to costs associated with the suspension of ore processing. That compares to a A$53.4 million loss in the year-earlier period.

Energy Resources of Australia has run up a string of losses in recent years, dogged by low uranium prices, disappointing output volumes and costs associated with the rehabilitation of the old mine site.

June 6, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

The collapse of uranium company Paladin’s share price

graph-down-uraniumWhy the Paladin Energy Share Price Fell Today What Happened to the Paladin Energy Share Price? Shares of Paladin Energy [ASX:PDN] fell by 3.95% on Wednesday, closing at 36.5 cents. This was the lowest closing price in nearly 10 years of trading! , Money Morning 5 June 14 

Why Did This Happen to the Paladin Energy Share Price?

Paladin Energy Limited is a uranium production and exploration company with projects currently in Australia, Canada, and Africa. The Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia is its flagship project.

Since the Fukushima uranium plant meltdown in 2011, the uranium industry has never been the same. Following this event, the Japanese government turned off all of its 54 uranium power plants.

The uranium spot price is now trading at around US$28.25 per pound, a level not seen since April 2005. Certain estimates now place up to 60% of current annual global production with costs above the current spot price, which is unsustainable.
For years, Paladin experienced financing, production, and profitability issues. And last week it officially temporarily closed its Kayelekera mine in Malawi.

For this plant to restart operations, Paladin wants to see a uranium price between US$70–75 dollars per pound, which implies that the breakeven price for Kayelekera is significantly above the current spot price. Overall the share price is declining because of a poor uranium environment. Last week, Japan announced that it won’t restart any reactors during 2014 — something that uranium punters were betting on.

June 5, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | 1 Comment

Australian govt to open up nuclear weapons test site to Aboriginal people, AND to uranium mining!

Maralinga signTraditional Maralinga Tjaruta people gain unrestricted access to rehabilitated land where nuclear testing occurred news.com.au 3 June 14  The federal government will on Wednesday announce 1782 square km in area will be formally excised from the Woomera Prohibited Area at the request of the Maralinga Tjaruta people……..

Maralinga Tjarutja general manager Richard Preece said the decision would enable the traditional owners to enter section 400 without seeking approval from the Defence Department.

“We didn’t think it’s sensible to have within the range something that would probably be the last place in Australia you’d want to drop bombs on,’’ Mr Preece said…….

Nuclear testing was conducted by the British government in Australia between 1952 and 1963.

Maralinga was officially closed in 1967.

The federal government hopes a bill opening the Woomera Prohibited Area for exploration and mining will be passed by Parliament during its winter sittings. Up to $35 billion worth of iron ore, gold and uranium is believed to lie beneath the ground in the prohibited area.

If the bill becomes law, it will create a new access regime for non-Defence users.

The State Government and federal Labor MPs have been pushing for the bill to be passed as soon as possible, arguing it will create new economic opportunities for South Australia, which could help offset the impact of the Holden closure. http://www.news.com.au/national/south-australia/traditional-maralinga-tjaruta-people-gain-unrestricted-access-to-rehabilitated-land-where-nuclear-testing-occurred/story-fnii5yv4-1226942188796

June 4, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia, uranium | 3 Comments

Uranium company gives up – switching to property development

fearuranium-oreUnited Uranium Limited moving from resources exploration to property development United Uranium Limited moving from resources exploration to property development http://www.proactiveinvestors.com.au/companies/news/55373/united-uranium-limited-moving-from-resources-exploration-to-property-development-55373.html June 02, 2014  United Uranium Limited moving from resources exploration to property development

United Uranium Limited (ASX:UUL) is exploring opportunities that will most likely result in a shift away from resources exploration to property development in a bid to increase shareholder value.

This follows completion of a strategic review that identified the unwillingness of the investment community to invest in junior resources companies, particularly those focused on uranium.

It added the early stage status of its projects required significant funding to explore, with no guarantee of commercial success.

These add to the continued depressed uranium prices, and commodities prices in general.

In contrast, it noted that investors were willing to invest in property developments with the sector currently experiencing strong housing demand.

 

 

June 3, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Investors flee as uranium price collapses even further

graph-down-uraniumA uranium price collapse has made mining companies radioactive to investors, Quartz By Jason Karaian   May 28, 2014 Here’s the latest sign that uranium-mining doesn’t pay: Paladin Energy, an Australian uranium mining group, announced today that it was ceasing production(pdf) at a key mine in Malawi. The move will take 3.3 million pounds of uranium per year off the market.

Paladin blames the plunge in the market price for the commodity, which has been languishing below $30 per pound, down from a peak of around $140 per pound in 2007:……..

Paladin is far from alone. As uranium prices have tumbled, others have been feeling the pinch. Indeed, for some 60% of global uranium production, the cost of extraction is higher than the market price for the commodity, the firm says.

In 2012, BHP Billiton put off a $20-billion expansion plan for a mine that sits on the world’s largest known uranium deposit. The prospects for processing more yellowcake at the site still look dim, given depressed prices. Yesterday, the French nuclear group Areva signed a uranium mining deal with the government of Niger, the world’s fourth-largest producer, but immediately put the start of the project on hold until prices improve. “Neither Areva nor Niger are interested in dumping uranium on the market that would not find a buyer,” Areva boss Luc Oursel said.

Uranium prices have been hit by a series of setbacks in recent years, from a global financial crisis that put a big dent in nuclear power demand, to a glut ofdecommissioned weapons-grade uranium, to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, which led to the shutdown of all that nation’s nuclear power plants and inspired nuclear phase-outs in places such as Germany and Switzerland.Investors in uranium mines have seen their assets plunge in value:……http://qz.com/213889/a-uranium-price-collapse-has-made-mining-companies-radioactive-to-investors/

May 30, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Can things get any worse for Australia’s uranium industry?

Uranium − how low can it go? Business Spectator JIM GREEN , 29 May 14, Australia’s uranium lobby is shameless. Michael Angwin from the (now defunct) Australian Uranium Association claimed that Australia “has enough reserves to be to uranium what Saudi Arabia is to oil”.

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”.

text-uranium-hype

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

 

 

May 29, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, spinbuster, uranium | Leave a comment

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