Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Ranger uranium mine: key recommendation ignored by NT and federal governments

Ranger-3“This report has taken too long and delivered too little. It fails to address the cause of the failure or actively reduce repetition – and its key recommendation has already been ignored,”

ERA to lift safety standards at Ranger Uranium Mine 24 October, 2014 Ben Hagemann Australian Mining, The Ranger Uranium mine has been directed to engage in improvements to process safety procedures on site, as a result of inadequate safety at the time of the failure of a leach tank in December last year.

The Department of Industry released a summary joint statement for the investigation which said that at the time of the failure of Leach Tank 1, the management of process safety and its corporate governance did not meet the expected standards. Continue reading

October 25, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, safety, uranium | Leave a comment

Toxic spill report critical for Ranger uranium mine

text-radiationKirsten Blair, 22 Oct 14  Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation was disappointed to learn that Ministers Ian MacFarlane and Willem Westra van Holthe had released a summary report of the investigation into the collapse of a leach tank at the Ranger uranium mine within the bounds of Kakadu National Park late last year without consulting all members of the investigation taskforce.

Gundjeihmi, which represents the Mirarr Traditional Owners of the Ranger mine site, has a position on the taskforce which was established to investigate last year’s radiological accident but was not informed of the intention to release the report yesterday.

Ranger-3Justin O’Brien CEO of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation said “We are bitterly disappointed that the investigation taskforce process has broken down, not for any want of trying on our part. It is critical that the recommendations of this report are fully implemented with highest priority given to a comprehensive review of the regulatory framework at Ranger, a point which the ministers have acknowledged but up to this point have not committed to act on.

“The tank collapse which sent over a million litres of radioactive acid spilling across the mine site was yet another example of the poor management and failed systems at Ranger. For Traditional Owners to gain have any confidence in the capacity of the Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) and the regulators to manage this mine the recommendations of this report must be acted on swiftly and completely.

“ERA wants to expand the Ranger mine underground. Without a comprehensive regulatory review and implementation of the remaining recommendations it would be ludicrous for the Federal Government to even consider such a proposal.” Mr O’Brien concluded

October 23, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, safety, uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium exploration a concern for New South Wales graziers

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))

map-NSW-uranium-exploration

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

 

October 21, 2014 Posted by | environment, New South Wales, uranium | Leave a comment

South Australian Greens call for transparency on ‘uranium appendices’ for Yorke Peninsula mine

Hillside mine: Greens call for release of ‘uranium appendices’ for Yorke Peninsula open pit, ABC News 19 Oct 14

The Greens are calling for the release of documents relating to uranium deposits at a copper mine approved for South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.

Earlier this year mining company Rex Minerals submitted a document to the South Australian Government that responded to community concerns about the potential contamination of prime farmland from the Hillside mine.

The Government responded by approving the 2.4-kilometre-long, 1km-deep and 450m-deep open pit near Ardrossan that would extract 2 million tonnes of copper, 1.7 million ounces of gold and 44 million tonnes of iron ore over 15 years.

Some parts of the mining lease proposal documents, however, were deemed “commercial-in-confidence” and withheld from publication.

State Greens leader Mark Parnell has submitted a freedom of information application to view the documents and see how much uranium is at the site.

He said appendices 36 and 37 related to uranium and were being “kept secret”.

“If the company says ‘nothing to worry about’, then they should have nothing to worry about releasing the documents that explain exactly where the radioactive hotspots are,” Mr Parnell said………

secret-Australia

EPA regulation levels to be reduced

South Australian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) regulations take effect at 200ppm – a level that would soon be reduced to 80ppm in line with national guidelines……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-20/greens-call-for-the-release-of-uranium-appendices-hillside-mine/5826048

October 21, 2014 Posted by | secrets and lies, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

NEW KAKADU URANIUM MINE CONTESTED – RIO MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR RANGER REHAB

The writing is on the wall for Rio – post-Fukushima the uranium commodity price is at an historic low, the global market outlook shows no signs of recovery and the company continue to lose millions at Ranger mine every year. NT and Commonwealth regulators need to use the Ranger 3 Deeps EIA process to take a sobering look at the mine’s struggling financial position, it’s poor worker safety, nuclear security and environmental record and use this opportunity to close the door on this costly and contaminating trade for good.”

7 Oct 14 The Environment Centre has vowed to contest any new uranium mining in Kakadu National Park and called on Rio Tinto to commit to a comprehensive closure and rehabilitation plan for Ranger uranium mine. The call coincided with an international day of action on October 7th with trade unions, communities and Indigenous groups protesting to highlight the health, environment and social impacts of Rio Tinto’s multinational mining operations.

Ranger-3

Rio Tinto and subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia are currently seeking an approval to develop a new underground uranium deposit, Ranger 3 Deeps, despite recent claims that the company is unwilling to take responsibility for the $600 million plus clean-up costs from its open pit operation.

Rio’s Chief Executive Sam Walsh has repeatedly refused to take responsibility for rehabilitation, most recently at the company’s Melbourne AGM, suggesting instead that its subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia, 68% owned by Rio should bear sole responsibility despite its weak financial position.

Lauren Mellor from the Environment Centre NT said “We are supporting the international call today to hold Rio Tinto to account for its appalling track record on environmental, social and industrial safety issues. Here in the NT Rio’s Ranger uranium mine has recorded over 200 license and security breaches, spills, and accidents in its 30 year history. Continue reading

October 8, 2014 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Toro Energy hoping against hope that the uranium market picks up in the future

bull-uncertain-uraniumToro seeks to expand planned WA uranium mine ABC News By David Weber 8 Oct 14
A company hoping to become the first to export uranium from Western Australia has released plans for an expansion of its currently untapped mine in the state’s mid-west.

Toro Energy last year received federal environmental approval for the Wiluna project to exploit the Lake Way and Centipede deposits.

But a new environmental scoping document included two more deposits, Millipede and Lake Maitland.

The plans are open for comment with the state’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)………

the WA Conservation Council said the existing conditional approval should be revoked and a completely new assessment done.The council’s Mia Pepper said the added impacts of an expansion needed to be considered.”While they might think that they know a lot, there’s a lot of impacts that are unknown when you add additional deposits,” she said.

“You add additional land clearing and impact area.”What they need to do and what they should be doing as any responsible company would is look at the cumulative impacts of that increase.”

Mr Yeeles said the start of mining was some way off.

“The market is not right, the price is not right for mining at the moment but by the time we complete the assessment for Millipede and Lake Maitland, we would expect the market conditions to have improved,” he said.

Toro expects the assessment process may take up to two years.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-06/uranium-miners-toro-seek-project-expansion-at-wiluna-site/5794318

October 8, 2014 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Four Mile uranium mine ships batch to Canada

Alliance Resources ships first batch of uranium ore Four Mile mine, Australia http://nuclearfuels.energy-business-review.com/news/alliance-resources-ships-first-batch-of-uranium-ore-four-mile-mine-australia-061014-4395242   EBR Staff Writer 06 October 2014   Alliance Resources has shipped first batch of uranium ore concentrate from its Four Mile mine in South Australia.

The ore concentrate has been shipped to Cameco’s facility at Blind River, Ontario, in September for further testing prior to sale.

The company is set to make a second shipment in mid-October to Canada.Alliance said that the first shipment comprised 300,000lb, while second shipment contains 210,000lb.

Due to limited availability of maritime transport, the first shipment of uranium was delayed.

Located 550km north of Adelaide, the Four Mile project is a joint venture of Alliance Resources and Quasar Resources, which owns 75% of the mine. It was commissioned in March and was opened in June.Alliance’s, Alliance Craton Explorer holds 25% of ML6402 and EL5017.

October 8, 2014 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

ERA digs itself into a deeper hole with underground uranium plan

highly-recommended Dave Sweeney, 6 Oct 14  Today’s announcement that Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has lodged its Environmental Impact Statement for underground mining (the Ranger 3 Deeps or R3D project) at its embattled Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu raises serious concerns about the project’s environmental impacts and economic viability, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

This application faces significant procedural and market hurdles and will be actively contested by national and NT environment groups.

“Uranium mining at Ranger has been the source of headlines, heartache and hazard for years but all mining and mineral processing ends in January 2021 when a mandated rehabilitation and closure process commences. ERA faces a serious management challenge to rehabilitate the Ranger site to a standard suitable for inclusion in the surrounding World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park”, said ACF nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“Ranger 3 Deeps would add considerable cost and complexity to this challenge. Instead of literally digging itself into a deeper hole ERA and parent company Rio Tinto should be advancing a comprehensive clean-up and closure program at Ranger”.

“ERA runs a failing mine in a fragile place. Kakadu deserves the highest protection and ERA requires the highest scrutiny. Instead of promises and plans to go underground Rio Tinto needs to ensure its under-performing subsidiary ERA meets its rehabilitation requirements in time and in total. After decades of being able to mine and mill Rio Tinto must not now be allowed to cut and run”.

Concerns around the planned R3D project include:

  • the projects impact on the required rehabilitation of the Ranger site (note: ERA’s authority for mining and mineral processing expires in January 2021)
  • doubts over the capacity of ERA and the commitment of parent company Rio Tinto to fund required rehabilitation works at Ranger. The former mine will need to be rehabilitated to a standard suitable for inclusion in the surrounding World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. This complex and costly task is being actively undermined by the lack of certainty surrounding rehabilitation financing. Rio Tinto argue they have no legal obligation to do the job, while ERA say they do not have the money. One corporation lacks commitment, the other capacity and Kakadu is held to ransom.
  • uncertainty surrounding the safety and adequacy of related infrastructure at the Ranger site (most starkly highlighted by the collapse of a leach tank and spill of overa million litres of radioactive and acidic slurry in December 2013)
  • ERA’s poor operational history which has seen over 200 leaks, spill, licence breaches and incidents at the Ranger mine and detailed concerns raised over the adequacy of the mine’s regulatory regime.
  • The poor uranium commodity price post Fukushima – a continuing nuclear crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium – ERA’s revenue has been steadily declining and net profit after tax has been negative in the last three years (2011-13). There is a real concern that falling costs will lead to ERA cutting corners.

Context and comment: Dave Sweeney, ACF – 0408 317 812

 

October 6, 2014 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Ranger uranium mine new plan, dubious, now scrutinised by Aborignal land owners

Ranger-3Traditional owners scrutinise environment plan for Ranger uranium mine  SMH October 6, 2014  Angela Macdonald-Smith The traditional owners of the Ranger uranium mine will look carefully at a draft environmental impact statement for an underground expansion lodged by Energy Resources of Australia on Friday, says Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Justin O’Brien.

He said the group, which represents the Mirarr people, would “weigh up the cultural, social and environmental considerations that will bring to bear on our decision-making”.

Rio Tinto-controlled ERA has pressed ahead with the potential expansion of the mine, near Kakadu, despite heightened fears among traditional owners over safety and health since a radioactive leak at the site late last year.

Chief executive officer Andrea Sutton said the company would “continue to seek their support” for the Ranger 3 Deeps project, which could start producing ore in December 2015……concerns over safety and health were still high since a leach tank accident last December and due to “the history of leaks and spills and accidents over many decades”.

ERA does not technically need the backing of the Mirarr traditional owners to go ahead with the underground mine, but Ms Sutton said “we certainly are seeking their support”.

Mr O’Brien said the economic dependence of Jabiru and the Mirarr people on Ranger, as well as cultural considerations would come into play in the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation’s decision, alongside the environmental issues.

The open pit at Ranger has already been depleted and is being re-filled, leaving ERA dependent on the processing of low-grade ore for production until production starts from any underground mine.

However, some analysts have voiced doubts about the underground project after ERA warned earlier this year that geotechnical conditions at the site were “less favourable than assumed”, leading to expectations it could cost more than originally anticipated.

Ms Sutton said it was too early to estimate costs for the underground project for which a pre-feasibility study is due for completion by the year-end. It is then due to be considered by the board in the first quarter of 2015……..

In-Situ-Leaching

Making the project more difficult is the weak uranium price, which has recovered from this year’s low of $US28 ($32) to about $35 but still remains less than half of the level most analysts say is required for a new green-field mine.

However, Ranger Deeps would be a brown-field expansion and Ms Sutton said ERA was not in any case counting on a material lift in the price until “mid to late this decade”. http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/traditional-owners-scrutinise-environment-plan-for-ranger-uranium-mine-20141005-10qhbd.html#ixzz3FOVx41Yf

October 6, 2014 Posted by | aboriginal issues, business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

$30 billion expansion of Olympic Damn uranium mine will go ahead, says Tony Abbott

Abbott-liarPrime Minister Tony Abbott predicts $30 billion Olympic Dam expansion will go ahead POLITICAL EDITOR TORY SHEPHERD THE ADVERTISER SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 A $30 billion Olympic Dam expansion is likely to go ahead “in the months and years ahead”, Prime Minister Tony Abbott says.

BHP Billiton shelved the expansion plans in the face of low commodity prices and spiralling costs. However the expansion moved a step closer recently, after the Government waived stringent environmental tests to let them trial a cheaper way of processing minerals…….

BHP Billiton is expected to give more detail on their plans at their AGM in Adelaide in November. Chief executive Andrew Mackenzie has said they have reduced costs and might be able to go ahead with a smaller or incremental expansion.

Before the election Mr Abbott pledged to create the economic conditions that would give the expansion the best chance of going ahead.

Federal ministers have met with BHP and have been talking up the prospects of the expansion …….http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/prime-minister-tony-abbott-predicts-30-billion-olympic-dam-expansion-will-go-ahead/story-fni6uo1m-1227075708200

October 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Australia helps destabilise Asia-Pacific in selling uranium to India

India-uranium1Australia and uranium: the pusher of the Pacific https://overland.org.au/2014/09/australian-and-uranium-the-pusher-of-the-pacific/ By Adam Broinowski 19.Sep.14 “……… The new demand from India will include uranium mined from Ben Lomond near Mt Isa which is likely to be shipped from Townsville Port, and coal mined from the gargantuan Galilee Basin and shipped from Abbott Point, passing through the dredged Great Barrier Reef, or freighted by road to Darwin or Adelaide ports (which hold uranium licenses). The Australia-India uranium agreement supports this concerted and accelerated push.

In cementing a nuclear deal with India, the Abbott government has committed to selling uranium to a nation-state that barely conceals its intentions to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal and that rejects the NPT and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)………..

First, the Australia-India uranium trade agreement is unsafe. If Japan’s nuclear industry and government have proven unable to properly contain the potential for serious nuclear accidents at its domestic nuclear power plants, then India’s nuclear industry, which is much less reliable and possibly even more corrupt, poses even higher risks of mismanagement.

Internally, India is also unstable, as the government fights an embedded insurgency. It maintains a violently repressive approach to imposing nuclear installations and uranium operations (such as Gorakhpur, Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Jagudoga) upon vulnerable communities, and against the wishes of civil protesters, five of whom have been killed since 2010. While guaranteed only intermittent electricity supply, such communities are experiencing higher rates of disease, congenital malformations and early deaths. In Jagudoga, Jharkhand (19,500 people), those living near the central uranium mine operated by Uranium Corp. of India Ltd. (UCIL), have suffered disproportionately high health problems……….

Second, while Tony Abbott reiterated that ‘suitable safeguards’ were in place to ensure that Australian uranium would be used for ‘peaceful purposes’ and for ‘civilian use only’, such ambiguous terms create false impressions. Nuclear technologies are inherently dual-use (both for civil energy production and military use), and it is disingenuous to claim that a water-tight separation can be ensured. In fact, ten of India’s twenty nuclear facilities do not fall under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervisional authority, and India only selectively recognises IAEA safeguards for specific foreign supplied reactors and facilities. With no mechanism to inspect this nuclear technology to ensure that the fuel is not diverted into nuclear weapons production, safety cannot be guaranteed.

Even if the diverted fuel was discovered, neither Australia nor the IAEA could force compliance. An influx of imported foreign uranium will simply make it easier for India to reserve some of its indigenous uranium for enrichment and/or reprocessing weapons-grade plutonium, or for some of Australia’s uranium to be ‘misallocated’ toward military facilities.

In effect, Tony Abbott’s policy to treat India as the exception undermines the IAEA standards within the disarmament regime, and breaches Australia’s obligations to the Rarotonga Treaty for the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone.

Third, and perhaps most significant, the deal will upset the ‘balance’ between India-Pakistan and in the South Asian region so as to aggravate rivalries and intensify tensions between the two nations, as well as others such as China and Bangladesh………

While leaders such as Abe, Abbott and Modi downplay the reality confronting people affected by radiation exposures from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, we should remember that this contamination came, in part, from Australian uranium.

The refusal of executive leaders to acknowledge the dangers of the uranium trade reflects the centrality of nuclear power to the US-led security regime that seeks to dominate non-compliant nations such as China or Russia………

Dr Adam Broinowski is an ARC postdoctoral research fellow at the College of Asia and the Pacific, the Australian National University.

 

September 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Risks of uranium mining outweigh any benefits

text-uranium-hypeAnti-uranium activists criticise NSW exploration program, Australian Mining 15 September, 2014 Vicky Validakis Anti-nuclear campaigners have criticised the NSW government for opening up the state to uranium exploration.

Last week the state government invited six companies to apply for exploration licences.

The move comes two years after NSW overturned a uranium exploration ban. Mining uranium is still restricted.

Three locations around NSW – near Broken Hill, near Cobar and south of Dubbo – have been earmarked for drilling activity.

Natalie Wasley, spokeswomen for the Beyond Nuclear Initiative, said the decision was disappointing, ABC reported.

“Uranium has very unique and dangerous properties and risks,” Wasley said. “It’s linked to the production of the world’s most toxic and long-lasting industrial waste, as well as proliferation of the world’s most destructive weapons, so it poses a risk to workers, to communities and the environment.”

Wasley said the sector will only create a small number of jobs, and claims the risks associated with uranium outweigh any economic benefits. “We know that in rural and regional areas there’s a much better opportunity for long-lasting sustainable jobs in the renewable sector.”

“We’d really encourage those local governments and the state governments to be putting money and resources into developing more creative, long-term and sustainable jobs for people.”……..

The six companies invited to apply for licenses are Australian Zirconia, Callabonna Resources, EJ Resources, Hartz Rare Earths, Iluka Resources and Marmota Energy. http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/anti-uranium-activists-criticise-nsw-exploration-p

September 16, 2014 Posted by | business, New South Wales, rare earths, uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium mining still prohibited in New South Wales, and not considered economically viable

Uranium exploration in western NSW – but mining is still prohibited  NSW Country Hour  Sally Bryant and Julie Clift  15 Sept 14, The New South Wales Government has invited six mining companies to put in expressions of interest to explore for uranium, but mining will remain prohibited, until deposits prove economically viable.

However not all of the mining companies who are involved in this process are actually interested in mining for uranium.

One of six companies invited to tender for an exploration licence, Alkane Resources, is developing a rare earth project near Dubbo, in the state’s central west.

Alkane say they’re not interested in uranium, that they are merely protecting their rare earth project from other resource companies applying for an exploration licence over the top of them

Managing Director Ian Chalmers says this is an insurance policy for his company……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-15/uranium-exploration-in-western-nsw/5743584

September 16, 2014 Posted by | business, New South Wales, rare earths, uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium oversupply bodes ill for the future of the industry

uranium-moneyRally in Uranium Prices Is Unlikely to Last, WSJ, 14 Sep 14  Gains Fueled by Ukraine Crisis, Mine Unrest Don’t Offset Oversupply SYDNEY—A multiweek rally in uranium prices fanned by the Ukraine conflict and labor unrest at a large mine in Canada looks unlikely to continue for long as the reality of oversupply and lackluster demand sinks in among buyers of the nuclear fuel.

Industry analysts and some uranium producers believe that even as supplies fall, a substantial increase in demand is needed to drive prices up to levels that would make new investments worthwhile, when many operations are running at a loss……..

Demand for the fuel hasn’t recovered since the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant in 2011, which sparked nuclear-plant closures across the country and tarnished uranium’s image globally…….

state governments in resource-rich Australia have been encouraging the growth of the nation’s uranium industry. A decadeslong ban on uranium production in Queensland was lifted in July, opening the door to new applications to build mines in the state. The government of New South Wales this month said it would invite six companies to apply for exploration licenses.

Still, there is expected to be little investment in new projects until the market stages a more substantial comeback. Cameco said it would need to see much higher uranium prices before it started construction of its proposed Kintyre uranium mine in Western Australia.

“The nuclear industry is still in the midst of upheaval,” said Jonathan Hinze, senior vice president at nuclear-research firm Ux Consulting Co. …http://online.wsj.com/articles/rally-in-uranium-prices-is-unlikely-to-last-1410726782

September 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Forget the hype – Australia’s uranium trade with India is of little economic benefit

Since the uranium policy was overturned in 2011, bilateral trade has gone backwards and now stands at A$15 billion. Expectations of direct and profitable investment by Indian companies in Australia’s uranium industry are likely to fall flat.
text-uranium-hypeThe future is renewable, not radioactive http://www.hindustantimes.com/comment/analysis/the-future-is-renewable-not-radioactive/article1-1263460.aspx?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed Jim Green 12 Sept 14 India and Australia have signed a nuclear cooperation agreement that may open the door for uranium sales. However, obstacles remain and claims of an economic bonanza for both countries ignore facts.
 A 2011 report in Australia’s Fairfax press claimed that uranium sales to India could generate A$1.7 billion in annual exports. But according to the World Nuclear Association, India’s uranium demand this year will amount to just 913 tonne — 1.4% of the world’s demand.

If Australia supplies 20% of that demand, uranium export revenue will increase by 3% — two orders of magnitude short of the figure in the Fairfax press.

Indian demand would have to grow ten-fold just to sustain one small uranium mine in Australia. Projections of exponential growth leading to hundreds of gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity in India should be disregarded. Continue reading

September 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

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