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
Lowest Australian uranium production for 16 years, World Nuclear Association 23 Jan 15 Due to the shutdown of ERA’s Ranger plant to June, and despite the rich Four-Mile deposit coming on line, Australia’s uranium production in 2014 at 5897 tonnes U3O8 (5000 tU) was the lowest since 1998. Two thirds of it was from Olympic Dam, where uranium is a by-product of copper. Production from Four Mile is recovered at the Beverley plant, replacing output from that mine at about double the level. http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=140c559a3b34d23ff7c6b48b9&id=e08ac096b6&e=ae5ca458a0
Paladin Energy Ltd revenues soar 79% but shares sink Motley Fool By Mike King – January 19, 2015 Uranium miner Paladin Energy Ltd (ASX: PDN) has announced sales of US$69.9 million in the December quarter, a rise of 79% over the previous quarter.
But despite the news, shares are down 2.8% at 35 cents at lunchtime.
So why are investors selling out of a stock reporting such strong growth?
The problem is that Paladin sold 1.9 million pounds of uranium in the quarter, at an average price of US$36.58 per pound. That last figure is the issue – that price is well below what it costs Paladin to produce the uranium, and there are no signs that the price is…[members only] http://www.fool.com.au/2015/01/19/paladin-energy-ltd-revenues-soar-79-but-shares-sink/
Uranium bulls have long pointed to China’s nuclear-industry expansion as a catalyst for a recovery in the market. In mainland China, there are 22 nuclear reactors currently operating, 26 being built and more about to start construction, according to the World Nuclear Association.
However, Australian investment bank Macquarie thinks there are now “serious question marks” about how much uranium the world’s No. 2 economy will need. “China is clearly the most positive story globally when it comes to nuclear-power-capacity expansion,” according to Macquarie analysts. “The concern, however, is that China has already procured a substantial amount of uranium well in excess of what it has consumed and that this advance purchasing might limit its need to enter the market to source material over the next few years,” they add in a note.
Uranium prices have mostly languished since the 2011 Fukushima disaster………with uranium prices rising 37% from August through November as Japan moved closer to restarting its idled reactors. Consultants Ernst & Young said they thought the market had bottomed. Analysts at Australian brokerage Bell Potter agreed.
BUT THAT RECOVERY HAS STALLED…….While the revival of Japan’s nuclear sector is positive for prices, China’s potential demand is more important……..But Macquarie’s analysts say China’s growing store of uranium may be bigger than anyone previously thought. Their latest analysis suggests China increased its stockpiles by 17% last year and now has enough uranium to meet domestic demand for about seven years at forecast 2020 consumption rates. China doesn’t provide data on its uranium inventories…. JPMorgan expects uranium prices to average $30.70 a pound this year, down from last year’s $31.70…….http://online.barrons.com/articles/uranium-rally-running-low-on-juice-1421462807
Mining company with links to suspended firm first to apply for NSW uranium licence SMH, January 15, 2015 Sean Nicholls A Hong Kong businessman with ties to a company whose shares are suspended after rocketing to 40 times their value is seeking to explore for uranium in NSW after the government invited his firm to apply for a licence.
Chi Ho William Lo is a director of EJ Resources, one of six companies invited to apply by Resources Minister Anthony Roberts last September after the state government overturned a decades-old ban on uranium exploration in 2012.
It followed an expressions of interest process during which EJ Resources was assessed in February and March by a panel that recommended Mr Roberts grant the company consent to apply.
It lodged three exploration licence applications on December 19.
But company records reveal Mr Lo and a fellow director, Siu-Wing Selwyn Chan, are former directors of Fifth Element Resources, which gained notoriety soon after listing on the Australian Securities Exchange in May last year.
Fifth Element Resources astonished market watchers when its share price soared from $0.20 to $7.96 in two months.
This valued the company at more than $300 million, despite it not announcing any significant news in relation to four gold and copper exploration licences it holds around western NSW. The licences were bought from EJ Resources the previous January.
On July 15 the ASX announced shares in Fifth Element Resources would be suspended from trading while an inquiry was launched into whether it had satisfied the rules for listing……..http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/mining-company-with-links-to-suspended-firm-first-to-apply-for-nsw-uranium-licence-20150114-12myku.html
BHP Billiton wants to increase radioactive waste storage at Olympic Dam, but opponents say leakage rates will rise, SMH, January 12, 2015 – Peter Ker Resources reporter BHP Billiton believes it can increase the amount of radioactive waste being stored in ponds at Olympic Dam without seepage rates rising, under the new development plan for the famous mineral deposit in the South Australian outback.
Continuing the rollout of new plans for the giant uranium, copper and gold mine, BHP has sought permission from the federal government to raise walls around an important waste or “tailings” dam at the mine from 30 metres to 40 metres.
The change would increase the volume of radioactive fluids that can be held in the dam – which is one of four on site – from 48.4 million cubic metres to 64.8 million cubic metres, with the work expected to be complete by September 2023.
Storage of the tailings, which include radioactive materials and acids, has been controversial since Olympic Dam’s previous owner, Western Mining Corporation, confirmed in 1994 that 5 billion cubic metres of the tailings fluids had leaked out of the storages and into an aquifer underground.
Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Dave Sweeney said increasing the volume of tailings under storage would probably cause more leakage.
“There is no question that increased pressure would add to the chances of increased seepage,” he said.
“We see tailings management as one of the big, unspoken problems with uranium mining. It is an unresolved environmental management problem.”……..
The push to increase the amount of tailings storage comes just months after BHP revealed a new strategy to develop Olympic Dam by putting a heap leach operation at the start of the existing processing cycle.
BHP will conduct a three-year trial of the heap leach concept, before deciding whether it warrants further expansion.
Confirmation of the heap leach trial was the first sign of progress at Olympic Dam since mid 2012, when BHP axed a $30 billion plan to develop the entire Olympic Dam deposit using the world’s biggest open-pit mine.
That $30 billion plan would have required the construction of eight new tailings dams, each requiring a 65-metre-tall embankment, and each covering two square kilometres. http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/bhp-billiton-wants-to-increase-radioactive-waste-storage-at-olympic-dam-but-opponents-say-leakage-rates-will-rise-20150111-12ltwq.html#ixzz3OfOVIn50
Uranium miner announces spill, Australian Miner, 8 January, 2015 Vicky Validakis Just days after uranium miner Paladin Energy denied it discharged polluted water into a river, the company announced a tank failure at its Kayelekera mine has resulted in a spill.
Paladin told the ASX a 20-minnute high-intensity storm resulted in around 25mm of rain falling at the mine site, located in northern Malawi.
As a result, a surge of stormwater caused the liner in the plant run-off tank to rupture, releasing 500 cubic metres of material to the bunded areas of the site, the company said.
Up to 50 litres of the material “overtopped” one of the containment bunds………..
On Monday Paladin denied claims it released toxic water from the mine into a local river system………
Kayelekera mine has been in care and maintenance since February 2014 due to the depressed price of uranium.http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/uranium-miner-announces-spill
West Australian Mines Minister Bill Marmion gave the exploration proposal the go-ahead after the mining warden recommended it be rejected in February 2014.
Mining Warden Kevin Tavener said the application for three exploration permits on Minderoo should be rejected because of the company’s low cash position.
It was a decision that reverberated throughout the industry as junior mining companies typically do not have access to deep cash reserves……..
Forrest’s Minderoo expressed its disappointment at the decision.
“Minderoo is disappointed at the minister’s decision to allow exploration by Cauldron Energy within the historical and environmentally fragile parts of Minderoo station,” a spokesperson said.
“As we have continuously stated on the public record, Minderoo supports development as long as it has no negative impact on the environment, and specifically protects the delicate environment of the Ashburton River.”http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/uranium-exploration-given-the-go-ahead-on-forrest
The deal comes just days after Forrest bought Harvey Beef for a reported $40 million.
The uranium buy came as a surprise to the industry, with spot prices yet to recover to pre-Fukushima levels and dropping as low as US$30.75……..http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/andrew-forrest-invests-in-west-australian-uranium
The lake provides water for drinking and domestic use to millions of Malawians. Part of the lake is protected as a national park, and it is inhabited by more than 850 cichlid fish species found nowhere else on Earth.
Malawi: Paladin Accused of Discharging Uranium-Contaminated Sludge in Lake Malawi http://allafrica.com/stories/201412301012.html A coalition of Malawi civil society organisations (CSOs) has accused Paladin Energy Ltd, a company that is mining Uranium ore at Kayerekera in the northern district of Karonga over reports the mining company is secretly discharging into Lake Malawi uranium contaminated sludge from the tailings dam at the mining site.
Renowned human rights activist, Rafiq Hajat shared a report compiled by a members of the Natural Resources Justice Network (NRJN) in which it is alleged paladin is discharging uranium sludge from Kayerekera into Lake Malawi.
“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]. Collectiong as part of their relish. The cause not yet known. Reports from the Beach Village Chairman indicates that this started in late November but Government was not forth coming (sich)” reads part of the post. Continue reading
Uranium mining in Kakadu at a crucial point, SMH, Peter Ker, Resources Reporter, 29 Nov 14 “….. As fate would have it, ERA could barely have picked a worse time to evaluate a new uranium development.
Most Australian uranium miners haven’t made a profit since. ERA has received just $US46 ($54) a pound for its product during most of this year. That is 12 per cent below the price it received in 2009.
Commodity prices are not the only threat to the project going ahead. A series of events over the past year have shaken investors’ confidence.
A tank failure in December last year spewed toxic substances around the Ranger site and prompted a six-month shutdown. Despite official surveys suggesting none of the substances escaped into Kakadu, a fierce debate ensued over the mine’s social licence to operate in such a delicate and difficult location.
The exploration results for the project have also fuelled concerns, with some analysts expressing alarm at the quality of some sections of the underground geology and cases of unstable rock formations.
At the same time ERA’s 68 per cent shareholder, Rio Tinto, is aggressively cutting back capital spending on new projects.
With Rio focused on boosting dividends rather than building large numbers of new mines, many doubt it will be willing to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars that would be required to go ahead with a new underground mine at Ranger.
When the geological concerns were reported to the market in July, Credit Suisse published the most pessimistic research note on the project to date.
“We believe the results of the Deeps resource drilling are poor,” the note said.
“Ranger Deeps either adds value or there is close to none, and risks are increasing towards the latter. 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.”……..
JP Morgan analysts said the weak uranium prices, combined with the 2021 expiry of the mining lease, put ERA in a difficult position.
“We believe the project likely needs prices of $US50 per pound to $US60 per pound over the life of the project,” they wrote. ……..
ERA chief Andrea Sutton said the geological results had been consistent with expectations, and sufficiently good for the company to conduct less drilling than planned.
The spot uranium price enjoyed a small surge in early November, and while the longevity of that rise is unclear, Sutton said the company was confident the price would rebound in the medium term……….http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/uranium-mining-in-kakadu-at-a-crucial-point-20141128-11vmr3.html
Paladin continues uranium plunge, Yahoo 7 News, Nick Evans November 14, 2014 A surge in the uranium spot price failed to help Paladin Energy’s bottom line, with the company declaring a net after-tax loss from operations of $US45.8 million for the September quarter.
According to Paladin’s latest financial results, released late yesterday, revenue for the quarter crashed 43 per cent to $US39.3 million………
The unexpectedly big loss will put further pressure on Paladin’s balance sheet, despite the completion of a $US190 million company-saving deal with China National Nuclear Corporation for the sale of a 25 per cent stake in Langer Heinrich. Closure of the deal left Paladin with cash holdings worth $US209.5 million at September 30.
Paladin also refinanced its existing $US110 million project finance loan and $US20 million working capital facility in the quarter, and used some of the CNNC cash to pay down debt.
But the company still faces the task of refinancing $US300 million of convertible bonds maturing next November, as well as paying $US40.4 million in interest and principal repayments before next September…….https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/wa/a/25512522/paladin-continues-uranium-plunge/
Pact to operationalise nuclear deal won’t to be signed during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Australia Indian Express by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi November 13, 2014
Two months after India and Australia signed the bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement, a pact on the administrative arrangements — key to operationalising the uranium supply deal — is not likely to be signed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Australia from November 14 to 18. However, officials said the two sides are aiming to conclude the deal in the first-half of 2015.
The pact on administrative arrangements is important for the Australian government to put it before the Australian parliamentary committee on treaties. After the committee examines the civilian nuclear deal and the administrative arrangements and prepares a report, it goes to the Australian parliament for approval. Only after the parliamentary nod can the Australian companies get into commercial negotiations with Indian counterparts for uranium supply………http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/pact-to-make-n-deal-with-australia-operational-wont-be-signed-this-time/
Northern Territory and national environment groups have pledged to fight a proposal for a new underground uranium mine within the boundaries of Kakadu National Park, arguing the proponent Energy Resources of Australia has failed to supply key details that would allow NT and federal environment ministers to make an informed assessment of the project’s economic risks.
Energy Resources of Australia, majority owned by Rio Tinto, has submitted a Draft Environment Impact Assessment prior to finalising and releasing a pre-feasibility study that contains important project details, including economic data directly relevant to the company’s unproven capacity to rehabilitate the troubled mine site.
“ERA’s financial struggles are well known to investors who have fled the depressed uranium sector in droves since Fukushima,” said Lauren Mellor of the Environment Centre NT.
“The company has lost more than $400 million since the disaster, which was directly fuelled by Australian uranium, struck in 2011.
“With rehabilitation liabilities of more than $700 million – worth more than ERA’s market value – the company has warned the ASX it may not be able to fully fund future rehabilitation. Federal and NT assessors should demand all project data be made available for public scrutiny during the assessment process.”
ERA is required to end mining and mineral processing at the Ranger mine in January 2021 and the groups are concerned that the planned new underground operation, known as Ranger 3 Deeps, would complicate and delay the company’s mandated clean up and rehabilitation period.
“Ranger has been operating inside Kakadu for more than three decades and has experienced hundreds of leaks, spills and license breaches in that time, including a major radioactive spill last year that shut the plant for six months,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Dave Sweeney.
“The mine is ageing, failing and is overdue for retirement. But instead of a planned and costed clean up and exit plan, ERA is pushing ahead with incomplete plans for a new underground mine, playing radioactive roulette at Ranger.”
“We will actively contest any new uranium mine in Kakadu because this company has a track record of broken pipes and broken promises.
“Federal and NT Environment Ministers responsible for assessment of the Ranger 3 Deeps project should require ERA to come clean about its plans and its projections and ensure all the missing project data is provided for public scrutiny.”
Editors’ Note: Dr Gavin Mudd, Senior Environmental Engineer at Monash University and a leading expert in uranium mining , legacy mines and groundwater impacts will address a public forum at 6pm on Wednesday 5 Nov at the Groove Café in Nightcliff to discuss the complex rehabilitation challenges facing ERA at the Ranger site. Dr Mudd is also available for comment and background briefings.
CONTACT: Dr Gavin Mudd, 0419 117 494. Lauren Mellor, ECNT, 0413 534 125 or Dave Sweeney, ACF, 0408 317 812