Malawi: Paladin Starts Discharging Uranium Wastes Into Public Rivers, AllAfrica, By Bishop Witmos Karonga April 23: Few months after Paladin Africa Limited differed with civil society organizations (CSOs) and some chiefs in Karonga over the disposition of uranium wastes into public water, the company has started discharging the effluent into Sere River.
Paladin Africa Limited, a member of the Paladin Energy group of companies, suspended its operations at Kayelekera Mine in the district in May, 2014, due to unstable uranium prices at an international market. The project is now on care and maintenance.
Malawi News Agency (Mana) has established Paladin invited Paramount Chief Kyungu and the District Commissioner (DC) for Karonga, Rosemary Moyo, to a meeting in Lilongwe early April this year (2015),to brief them about the company’s recent decision.
Paladin Africa Acting General Manager in Malawi, Greg Walker, confirmed in a telephone interview that the company, indeed, started releasing the uranium wastes into the public rivers………
Sere River flows into North Rukuru River, then into Lake Malawi.
When asked why the company decided to brief Paramount Chief Kyungu and the Karonga DC about their action in Lilongwe instead of explaining it to the general populace of Karonga, Walker said the company conducted enough meetings with relevant authorities in the district……..
Despite the decision by Paladin to start discharging its effluent into the public water, some people in the district feet it would have been safer if the company had constructed another dam where the wastes would be transferred into.
Chairperson for Karonga District Council, Patrick Kishombe, said in an interview the plan to release the waste water from the storage dam into Sere River is raising fears amongst communities who feel the water is not fully treated and could be a health hazard.
“This, I believe, will lead into many hazards, like killing of fish in Lake Malawi and may also cause skin cancer to some people,” said Kishombe.
Uranium contains gamma rays, particles that cause skin cancer to human kind, according to experts.
In developed nations, mining companies construct a stable tank that stores all the wastes, ready for transportation to recommended disposal sites. ……http://allafrica.com/stories/201504231621.html
Paladin uranium output slumps THE AUSTRALIAN, 24 Apr 15 Paladin said today production at the group’s Langer Heinrich mine during the March quarter had slumped 10 per cent from the December quarter to 1.23 million pounds of uranium oxide.
Media banned from Rio Tinto’s ERA AGM after concerns about uranium mine rehabilitation, ABC News By Joanna Crothers 14 Apr 15 Media outlets have been banned from the annual general meeting of a Rio Tinto-owned company that operates the Ranger Uranium Mine in the Northern Territory amid concerns the company does not have enough money to rehabilitate the site once it finishes production.
The mine, near Jabiru which is surrounded by Kakadu National Park, 230 kilometres east of Darwin, is run by Energy Resources of Australia (ERA).
ERA is majority-owned by mining giant Rio Tinto. Ranger Uranium Mine is one of Australia’s three operating uranium mines.
On Monday, the NT Environment Centre said it had “major concerns” ERA would no longer be able to afford the full cost of rehabilitation, estimated at $512 million, due to suffering substantial losses over the past few years.
The company reported a $136 million loss for the 2013-14 financial year which was an $83 million improvement on the previous year.
ERA has said rehabilitation is funded under its current business plan, but if a proposed underground mine known as Three Deeps is not developed it may require another source of funding to pay for all of the rehabilitation works.
Environment Centre spokeswoman Lauren Mellor said she would raise these concerns at ERA’s AGM being held in Darwin today. Media have been told they cannot attend the meeting, even without recording devices, despite journalists having been able to attend previous ERA AGMs.
Speeches from the AGM have been published on the ERA website.
On Monday, Ms Mellor said she wanted to know whether parent company Rio Tinto would cover costs of rehabilitation should ERA be unable to pay.
“We’ll be asking to board of ERA whether they believe that the parent company, who does have the financial capacity to achieve rehabilitation, should be held responsible in the event that ERA no longer has the money to achieve this huge cyclical challenge of rehabilitating Kakadu National Park.
“What we’ve been seeing is Rio Tinto as a major shareholder, which is certainly not short of cash in the way that ERA is, trying to deflect criticism and attention and its corporate ties to this particular project and sidestep that responsibility.”……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-14/concerns-rio-tinto-era-wont-pay-for-ranger-mine-rehabilitation/6390600
Any attempt to extend the lease will be controversial.
As colleague Peter Ker reported in February, the traditional owners seem pretty wedded to the idea that mining stops in 2021 and rehab is completed by 2026.
Ranger’s community issues stretch well beyond its sometimes fractured relationships with its local hosts, the Mirarr people. An extension will become an issue of serious contest across a sweep of the environmental movement both because of what it mines (uranium) and where it is (inside the Kakadu National Park).
Rio Tinto worried about ERA’s Ranger uranium mine http://www.afr.com/business/mining/uranium/rio-tinto-worried-about-eras-ranger-uranium-mine-20150402-1mctl1 by Matthew Stevens
The fate of Energy Resources Australia hangs in precarious balance with majority-owner Rio Tinto growing increasingly uncertain about the competitive economics and investment risk of a life-sustaining underground expansion at Australia’s most productive uranium project, the Ranger mine.
Rio owns 68 per cent of ERA and the Australian-listed uranium miner’s only operating asset is Ranger, a 30-year-old mine of occasionally extreme controversy.
Mining at Ranger’s open pit stopped more than two years ago and production is currently sustained by legacy stockpiles.
The longer future of ERA swings on an underground project called Ranger 3 Deeps, which has been the subject of $200 million in pre-feasibility investment over the past two years alone and requires up to $60 million more before a final investment decision might be secured. Continue reading
Lake Way flooding proves Wiluna unviable http://www.robinchapple.com/lake-way-flooding-proves-wiluna-unviable 27 Mar 15, (Good photos) After yesterday flying over Lake Way to see the extent of flooding in the area, WA Greens spokesperson on uranium Robin Chapple MLC has expressed deep concern about the future of proposed uranium mining on the lake bed.
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