Chapple says water could increase the risk at Toro, Kalgoorlie Miner, 26 Mar 15 Mining and Pastoral MLC Robin Chapple has expressed concerns about plans to mine uranium in Wiluna after the “flooding” of Lake Way.
His comments came this week after a flyover revealed what Mr Chapple termed flooding on the lake bed. Toro Energy plans to store radioactive tailings from the proposed Wiluna uranium mine — up to 100 million tonnes — in the mined-out Centipede and Millipede pits, which will also be on the lake bed and are now underwater. The company has cited flooding as a non-issue, claiming the lake to be a natural drainage point, according to Mr Chapple.
Mr Chapple said the extensive flooding at Lake Way raised serious concerns about Toro’s ability to manage water effectively while mining on a lake bed. “I do not believe this company has properly accounted, nor planned, for potential flooding to the extent we have seen this week at Lake Way,” he said
“Not only would floodwaters of this magnitude carry radioactive material to other parts of the ecosystem, but on drying out could potentially release large quantities of oxidised uranium … into the atmosphere.
Mia Pepper Nuclear Free Campaigner Conservation Council of Western AustraliaAbout the flooding of Lake Way – the proposed site for the “Wiluna uranium project” including three pits on Lake Way. We’ve raised the issue that Toro Energy want to store about 100 million tonnes of radioactive tailings in two mined out pits on the lake bed (Centipede and Millipede) – the Department of Mines and Petroleum haven’t yet approved or even seen a tailings management plan from the company. We are focused on making sure the tailings don’t end up in this lake!
French abandon Far North uranium prospects DANIEL BATEMAN THE CAIRNS POST MARCH 18, 2015 ONE of the world’s largest uranium producers is pulling out of the Far North following the State Government’s renewed ban on uranium mining.
Minister for State Development, Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham has said a statewide prohibition will once again be put in place over uranium mining, forcing several companies to shelve development plans.
Areva had been exploring in the Karumba and Carpentaria basins since about 2012.
Areva Resources Australia managing director Joe Potter said the company would not be applying for new exploration tenements in Queensland in the near future, in light of the recent state policy changes and general downturn in the uranium market…….
Australian Conservation Foundation Northern Australia program officer Andrew Picone welcomed the return of a ban and the departure of Areva.
“The fact that Areva have pulled up stumps in Queensland’s Gulf only illustrates the market’s global contraction,’’ he said. http://www.cairnspost.com.au/business/french-abandon-far-north-uranium-prospects/story-fnjpusdv-1227266987603
Slow uptake of NSW uranium exploration licenses http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-18/slow-uptake-of-nsw-uranium-exploration-licenses/6328100 By Jacqueline Breen, 18 Mar 15, Only one of the six companies invited by the State Government to apply for a uranium exploration license has done so. The ban on mining uranium in New South Wales remains in place, but the Coalition has lifted the ban on exploration.
Last year the government invited six companies to apply for licenses to explore for deposits around Broken Hill, Cobar and Dubbo.
Only EJ Resources has submitted an application, seeking three licenses to explore north of Broken Hill.
The other companies–Australian Zirconia, Callabonna Resources, Hartz Rare Earths, Iluka Resources and Marmota Energy–did not apply before the government’s March deadline passed. When the government announced the shortlist last year Resources Minister Anthony Roberts said the state needed a “stock-take” of its uranium resources.
“This will allow us to understand fully what the uranium reserves are in New South Wales,” he said.
If EJ Resources’ license application is successful, the state government’s Division of Energy and Resources said only low impact monitoring that doesn’t disturb land can be carried out, unless further approval is sought.
The division said a land access agreement with landholders must be in place before any exploration begins.
The Newman Government announced it would overturn the long-time ban on uranium mining in 2012 and opened applications in August 2014.
Queensland’s Mary Kathleen Mine, near Mount Isa, closed in 1982, seven years before uranium mining was banned in the state……..
a spokesman for the new government said uranium mining would once again be kiboshed in Queensland.
Andrew Cripps ( Mines Minister in the previous Liberal government) said it would not have any impact.
“The Department of Natural Resources and Mines has not received one single application for a uranium mining lease since the previous LNP government’s regulatory framework for uranium mining started on 31 July 2014,” he said……………http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/labor-says-no-to-uranium-mining-in-queensland-20150313-143pzi.html
Cameco’s Kintyre uranium mine in Pilbara conditionally approved by WA Government ABC News By Ebonnie Spriggs and Lucie Bell, 5 Mar 15 A proposed uranium mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region has been granted conditional environmental approval by the State Government……Cameco Australia, is proposing to construct and operate the Kintyre open-cut uranium mine 270 kilometres north east of Newman.
The joint venture project with Mitsubishi Development would include an airstrip, processing plant, waste rock dump, tailings storage facility, offices, accommodation and a haul road.
The company plans to truck uranium oxide concentrate from the site, at the western edge of the Great Sandy Desert in the east Pilbara, to the Port of Adelaide.
WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob has now conditionally approved the project.
It is understood Kintyre will be subject to conditions including those relating to mandatory reporting, the protection of fauna, public availability of data and radiation risks……
It is understood the project will now be subject to approval by the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who is expected to respond within 30 days. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-05/kintyre-uranium-mine-in-wa-pilbara-gains-conditional-approval/6284264
The draft terms of the reference for the royal commission, released on Monday, are focused on nuclear power generation, uranium enrichment and waste storage. But the government has ruled out scaling back the state’s involvement in uranium mining, while also precluding the use of nuclear for military purposes.
Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney says the decision to exclude consideration of uranium mining is deeply disappointing. “The nuclear industry starts with uranium and so should any genuine assessment of the nuclear sector in South Australia,” he said.
Given that Australia’s uranium mining and export accounts for less than 1 percent of its hundred billion dollar mineral export business (iron ore, bauxite, coal, copper, nickel etc),36 however, these decisions by Australian leaders risked significant political capital over what has been a highly contentious issue in Australia’s recent political history
Undermining Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Energy and Security Politics in the Australia-India-Japan-U.S. Nuclear Nexus 核不拡散の土台崩し オーストラリア·インド·日本·米国間におけるエネルギーと安全保障政策 The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 46, No. 2, November 1, 2014 Adam Broinowski “……Until 2014, along with China, Japan has also seen a boom in mostly solar and wind electricity generation. But this has been stalled by utilities who have refused to take an influx of renewable power into the grid or to reduce electricity prices.10 With fewer nuclear plants scheduled for construction around the world than for shutdown, however, the nuclear industry faces the likely prospect of contraction11 and replacement by rapidly advancing renewable energy options, including solar, wind, tidal, hydro and possibly geothermal power over the longer term.
Despite this gloomy prognosis for the uranium sector, confidence began to return to the uranium mining industry in Australia from late 2012. Continue reading
The ERA full year report for 2014 shows sales revenue up from $356.1 million in 2013 to $379.2 million, however nets profits have dropped from -$135.8 million to -$187.8 million.
Production has copped a beating as the Ranger begins to reach the end of its mine life, down to 1165 drummed tonnes in 2014, compared to 2960 in 2013 and 3710 in 2012.
The Ranger mine will continue mining until 2021, with full rehabilitation required by 2026, and has spent $378 million on rehab and water management over the past 2 years……http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/uranium-miner-era-posts-new-profit-losses
Nuclear non-starter: Oversupplied, losing money and without a constituency, Climate Spectator, JIM GREEN 16 Feb 15 “… South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill announced a Royal Commission on February 8 to investigate options to expand the state’s involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle beyond uranium mining. There is some hope that a value-adding enrichment industry could compensate for the weakened uranium mining industry.
But the 2006 Switkowski report found that there was no realistic prospect of an enrichment industry in Australia, due to overcapacity at enrichment plants around the world. The SA Royal Commission will reach the same conclusion. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd noted in Nuclear Engineering International in July 2014 that “the world enrichment market is heavily over-supplied”.
There are other reasons to be concerned about uranium enrichment … though it hardly matters given that it is an economic non-starter. Australia’s involvement in enrichment R&D began in 1965 with the ‘Whistle Project‘ in the basement of Building 21 at Lucas Heights, then run by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Those in the know were supposed to whistle as they walked past Building 21 and say nothing about the enrichment R&D. Why the secrecy? Because enrichment provides a direct path to nuclear weapons.
Forty years later, John Howard was likening uranium enrichment to value-adding to the wool industry. Perhaps Lucas Heights also had a secret program to knit woollen garments? Or perhaps not.
The enrichment R&D was publicly revealed in the Atomic Energy Commission’s 1967-68 Annual Report and plodded along until it was terminated in the mid-1980s. Nuclear power was growing steadily from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s, yet Australia didn’t come close to establishing an enrichment industry. It’s hardly likely to happen when nuclear power capacity is stagnant, when the enrichment market is heavily over-supplied, when there is growing international momentum to curb the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies (enrichment and reprocessing), and when the atomic bomb lobby is far smaller and weaker than it was in the mid-1960s.
Clutching at straws, enrichment lobbyists argue that an Australian enrichment industry could supply nuclear power reactors in Southeast Asia. That argument would carry more weight if there were any power reactors in Southeast Asia.
Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, Australia. http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2015/2/16/energy-markets/nuclear-non-starter-oversupplied-losing-money-and-without
Australia’s uranium industry is in a sick and sorry state. Production of 5000 tonnes in 2014 was the lowest for 16 years. The industry generates less than 0.2 per cent of national export revenue and accounts for less than 0.02 per cent of jobs in Australia (about 1200 jobs).
The Ranger open-cut mine in the NT has been mined out and the planned Ranger 3 Deeps underground mine is subject to doubt and delay. Energy Resources of Australia has posted losses for each of the past five years, totalling $500 million. The uranium industry in the NT may come to an end when the last of the Ranger ore stockpile is milled in two years time.
In South Australia, the planned expansion of the Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine was cancelled in 2012, and hundreds of workers have been retrenched by BHP Billiton since then. The Honeymoon mine has been put into care-and-maintenance. Beverley Four Mile started production last year, at the same time as the nearby Beverley mine was put into care-and-maintenance. Instead of the usual fanfare, The Advertiser reported: “South Australia’s newest mine will lose money and won’t create any jobs.”
Nuclear non-starter: Oversupplied, losing money and without a constituency, Climate Spectator, JIM GREEN 16 Feb 15 As discussed in Climate Spectator recently, some nuclear insiders and lobbyists are starting to confront the reality that the global pattern of nuclear power stagnation is likely to continue. With the number of ‘operable’ power reactors declining from 443 to 437 over the past decade, the rhetoric about a nuclear renaissance is becoming hard to sustain.
Similar opinions about the uranium industry are becoming increasingly common. Continue reading
Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia tight-lipped about its Ranger mine’s gloomy financial situation
ERA keeps its Ranger delay very hush-hush BY CRAIG DUNLOP NT NEWS FEBRUARY 11, 2015 ENERGY Resources Australia has quietly delayed the expansion of the Ranger uranium mine, with work now set to commence at an unspecified date in 2016, rather than its original target date of late 2015.
The company, 68 per cent owned by mining giant Rio Tinto, made the announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange late on Friday.
“Dependent on the outcome of further work, and subject to board and regulatory approvals, first development ore for Ranger 3 Deeps is now expected to be in 2016,” the report said.
It also said that ERA was likely to require further investment for the expansion to go ahead.
The knock-on effects from the failure of a leach tank in 2013 continued to be felt until mid-2014, as the company was forced to purchase, and then onsell, uranium in order to meet its prearranged sales contracts.
The delay has pleased environmental groups, who have long objected to Ranger 3, with the Environment Centre NT and the Australian Conservation Foundation labelling the expansion plans “unviable”.
The Environment Centre NT’s Lauren Mellor said: “The delay on investment in the Ranger 3 Deeps project is a major setback for both Rio and ERA, with costs continuing to blow out and time running out for this short-term, high-risk venture.”………
- In light of the losses and the investment required in Ranger 3, the company’s directors have not issued a dividend.
13 Feb 15 National and Territory Environment Groups have today welcomed the announcement that investment in Ranger 3 Deeps, a controversial new underground uranium mine proposal has been significantly delayed by Rio Tinto, majority owner of the embattled Ranger uranium mine within the boundaries of Kakadu National Park.
The decision came off the back of further record losses for Rio subsidiary and Ranger mine operator Energy Resources of Australia of $188 million in 2014 and $136 million in 2013. ERA have now suffered five consecutive yearly losses totalling $500 million.
“Ranger’s underground mine has become a money pit for Rio Tinto, with the company investing hundreds of millions in feasibility studies and an underground decline tunnel in recent years, and has faced unprecedented community opposition receiving over 4500 public submissions opposing the mine during the Environment Impact Assessment public comment phase in December last year,” Lauren Mellor, Nuclear-free Campaigner with the Environment Centre NT said.
“The delay on investment in the Ranger 3 Deeps project is a major setback for both Rio and ERA, with costs continuing to blow out and time running out for this short-term, high risk venture. Years of sustained uranium company and sector losses have shown even the industry’s biggest players are getting cold feet for new mines, with no commodity price recovery predicted within ten years – well past the legal operating timeframe for Ranger 3 Deeps.”
“This decision by the Rio board is a long overdue recognition that the project, like the wider uranium industry, is unviable. It has a very limited lease life, with all mining on the Ranger lease mandated to end in 2021, at a time when the commodity price has never been lower, making old mines like Ranger struggle, and new projects like Ranger 3 Deeps buckle.” said Dave Sweeney of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
“Day by day, every delay and every lost dollar makes this project less viable and less likely. “The nuclear industry simply can’t compete, on cost, construction times and on community standards for environmental protection. Like Ranger mine its well past its use by date and the NT and Federal governments should be using this company delay to instead accelerate a rehabilitation plan for Kakadu that will see the region and its inhabitants protected for the long haul.”
The Rio Tinto-owned Energy Resources of Australia made a $188 million loss in 2014, after suffering a loss of $136 million in 2013.
The company expects to increase its uranium production in 2015, after output was dented in 2014 because of the suspension of processing operations for more than six months after the failure of a leach tank in December 2013.
The company’s purchase of uranium oxide to fulfil sales dragged on its earnings……..https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/uranium-miners-loss-widens-100814187.html
Minister approves uranium mine threat to National Park The states peak environment group, the Conservation Council of WA, has condemned the decision by Environment Minister Albert Jacob to approve the Kintyre uranium mine proposal in an excised area from WA’s biggest National Park, Karlamilyi.
Piers Verstegen, Director of the Conservation Council said “The Kintyre uranium proposal directly threatens the unique desert environment of the Karlamilyi National Park, the intricate water network of the Karlamilyi River water catchment and many endangered and threatened species.”
“This decision shows a weakening of standards for environmental protection and is a reminder that uranium and other environmentally significant and dangerous projects must retain Federal oversight under the EPBC Act, something both Governments are trying axe.”
Mia Pepper, Nuclear Free Campaigner of the Conservation Council of WA said “In an attempt to gain public support for uranium this Government is desperately trying to ‘normalise’ uranium. But uranium is not like any other mineral; it is radioactive and poses a significant and long term risk to the environment and public health. It is the asbestos of the 21st century and we cannot afford to treat it like any other mineral.”
“This decision is just one of many still needed before construction could begin at the proposed mine. This is a bad deal but not a done deal and we will continue to explore every avenue possible to challenge this uranium proposal.”
“Cameco the proponent of the Kintyre uranium mine has a shocking operating record overseas we will be watching their every move here and internationally, uniting with other communities that have been negatively impacted by this company.” Ms Pepper concluded.
Paladin’s Malawi uranium mine of little benefit to the country, and now threatening pollution of Lake Malawi
Government officials in Malawi are upset about the situation. “I am very shocked with the situation I have seen after monitoring the mine here and all my questions to the Paladin boss have not been answered satisfactory”
Meanwhile international experts are starting to question the benefits of the Kayelekera mine
Australian Uranium Mining Company Accused of Contaminating Lake Malawi By Mayu Chang……Global Research, January 29, 2015 CorpWatch Paladin Energy, an Australian mining company, has been accused of discharging uranium-contaminated sludge into Lake Malawi, which supports 1.7 million people in three countries – Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The company began uranium mining operations in Malawi in 2009 although it suspended operations last year after ore prices fell.
“It is rumored that Paladin secretly have started discharging the so called purified water. Reports from the Beach Village Chairman indicates that this started in late November,” wrote Rafiq Hajat of Malawi’s Institute for Policy Interaction on Facebook. “[At] a radius of 35 km from the Boma, you will be shocked to see fish of different species dead with some communities along the lakeshore collecting [the fish].”……………“Uranium is radioactive and that with open-pit mining, like the one to be conducted at Kayelekera, the soil drains into rivers and contaminates the water,” Titus Mvalo, a lawyer representing several civil society organizations in Malawi, told Inter Press Service in 2007. “When humans drink the water, it damages kidneys and causes cancer.”
At the time, the activist groups warned that the mine would pose a threat to Lake Malawi, Africa’s third largest freshwater lake, which is a major source of drinking water and fish for the country. Continue reading