What is a regulator for again? http://linkis.com/greensmps.org.au/1cNkL 12 Feb 2016 The Northern Territory mine regulator is inviting uranium companies to ignore any environmental safeguards with their refusal to prosecute Energy Resources Australia, the Australian Greens said today.
“After more than two years, the NT regulator has given ERA a pass. The Ranger mine leaked nearly 1.5 million litres of radioactive acidic sludge into the plant area, and could have got people killed,” Australian Greens Deputy Leader Senator Scott Ludlam said today.
“Under estimates questioning we were told that the report into the leach tank spill was kept from the public while a decision was made about whether or not to prosecute. It’s hard to envisage a scenario that warranted the application of the full force of the law more than this one.
“The regulator failed to prevent the spill, they took years to deliberate, and came up with nothing. They’ve essentially announced to mining companies in the NT that there are no legal consequences for catastrophic negligence,” Senator Ludlam said.
“We urge the NT government to reverse this decision immediately and force ERA to be accountable.”
Lizard’ bites back with new message http://www.themonitor.com.au/news-articles/160210-lizard-bites-back-with-new-message– 10-Feb-2016 Patrick Glover Hundreds of protestors are set to descend on Olympic Dam for a three-day festival in July.
The Desert Liberation Front previously visited the area in 2012 with its Lizard’s Revenge event.
This year’s gathering, which will run from July 1-3, is being called The Lizard Bites Back.
“The first time, we were very focused on the expansion with the announcement having only been made a few months prior to our visit,” said event co-organiser Nectaria Calan.
“The mine is still there, and it’s four years later now, so we thought it was time to go back to the source.
“The mine is always an issue. It was not just when the expansion was going ahead – it is one of the largest uranium mines in the world, so for us it is already having an impact.
“Now there is the Royal Commission (into nuclear energy) on”
Ms Calan said the event was still in the early planning stages and no activities had been planned yet.
However, she said the group was hoping to hold educational workshops and other activities as part of the ‘protestival’.
The group is also aiming to reach out to more locals this time around. It is inviting anyone interested to visit the campsite during the event.
Ms Calan said she was hoping for a similar attendance to the previous festival’s crowd of hundreds.
Senior Sergeant Terry Boylan said South Australia Police (SAPOL) was well under way with planning for this year’s protest, as extra officers may need to be called in.
A BHP Billiton spokesperson told The Monitor the company wished to make no comment regarding the protestors’ visit at this point in time.
Opposition resources minister Gary Gray has said that a closure of Ranger would have “massive implications” for the economy of Arnhem Land and would be unfortunate for the uranium industry in Australia.
Energy Resources of Australia nears decision on future of Ranger uranium mine, SMH, January 12, 2016 Angela Macdonald-Smith Energy Reporter The future of the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory hangs in the balance as owner Energy Resources of Australia nears a decision on a strategic review.
Rio Tinto-controlled ERA said on Tuesday it would update the market this quarter on the strategic review, which it kicked off in October after being advised by traditional owners that they oppose an extension of production at the mine near Kakadu.
The Mirarr traditional owners refused to back the miner’s bid to extend its processing permits beyond the current expiry date of January 2021.
ERA, 68 per cent-owned by Rio, warned then that it may have to write down its assets as a result. Some analysts calculate the impairment could reach several hundred million dollars. ERA, for whom Ranger is its only producing asset, is due to report its 2015 earnings on January 28…………. Continue reading
The call comes as the groups formally provided the EPA with a detailed critique highlighting specific community, environmental and procedural issues, along with wider nuclear industry safety and security concerns. Over 2,000 individual submissions were made to the EPA opposing the Yeelirrie uranium proposal.
A key specific concern involves the threat of species being made extinct as a result of the project. “This proposal threatens to make 15 species of subterranean fauna extinct,” said CCWA nuclear free campaigner Mia Pepper.
“We want the EPA to reject the proposal because of these unacceptable impacts. In its current form the project is likely to cause the extinction of ten species of stygofauna and five species of troglofauna.* These creatures might be small and hard to count but that does not mean that they don’t matter.”
Many of the area’s Traditional Owners have opposed proposals to mine uranium at Yeelirrie for more than 40 years. Pastoral operators and other stakeholders have also raised concerns about the impact on scarce water resources and the problems of dust and airborne pollution from a planned 9 kilometre open pit and large stockpiles of radioactive material in a region known for regular high winds.
“There is scant economic incentive for this mine,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney. “The uranium market remains depressed and the commodity price has flat-lined. Cameco wants a paper approval to effectively warehouse a product that lacks social license and demand.
“Cameco – and two other WA uranium hopefuls – are racing to get assessments approved before the next state election. This might make sense for a company but it doesn’t make for good public policy.
“We are deeply concerned about fast tracked approvals for deficient proposals and urge the EPA to say no to extinction by saying no to this uranium mine.”
The company says it is frustrated by roadblocks to uranium mining in WA, particularly from the WA Labor Party, which may stop new uranium mines from going ahead if elected.
Cameco Australia managing director Brian Reilly said uranium miners would need access to more Australian ports to export its products in the future……..http://www.perthnow.com.au/business/uranium-miner-cameco-to-move-in-wa-when-demand-lifts-for-nuclear-energy/news-story/cb93a50d83666159909dfa00d4b94c7c
Energy Resources of Australia Accepts Defeat on Ranger Uranium Mine Extension, http://investingnews.com/daily/resource-investing/energy-investing/uranium-investing/energy-resources-of-australia-accepts-defeat-on-ranger-uranium-mine-extension/ Uranium Investing News, Kristen Moran • October 19, 2015 Mining Australia reported that Energy Resources of Australia (ASX:ERA) has decided to accept defeat on plan to extend Ranger uranium mine beyond 2021.
As quoted in the market news:
A statement from ERA this afternoon revealed the Mirrar Traditional Owners and Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation do not support an extension to the authority to mine at Ranger, in Kakadu National Park.
A statement from ERA said the company respected the views of the Traditional Owners, and would undertake a business review in light of their decision.
“In light of this development, ERA has commenced a process of assessing whether the company’s assets may be impaired,” the company said.
The news was welcomed by Environment Centre NT, where Nuclear Free campaigner Lauren Mellor said it was time for “the era of rehabilitation and a staged and managed exit from Kakadu to begin”.
“ERA must now accept full financial responsibility for the costly and complex task of rehabilitation, accept Rio’s funding offer and cooperate with all stakeholders in the transition to a post-mining phase of operations,” Mellor said.
ENERGY Resources of Australia produced 457 tonnes of uranium oxide in the September quarter, down 19 per cent on the same quarter last year.
- Production was up 17 per cent on the June quarter, when output was impacted by a mill shutdown to carry out maintenance.All ore milled in the September quarter was taken from existing stockpiles, and no exploration expenditure was incurred during the quarter.ERA lost half its board in June after deciding a proposed new underground mine at Ranger in the Northern Territory will not proceed to a final feasibility study due to a sluggish uranium market.
The company’s total evaluation expenditure for the September quarter dropped to $1 million, from $3 million in the June quarter, due to “close out activities” of its Ranger pre-feasibility study……..http://www.ntnews.com.au/business/era-sept-quarter-production-down-19-pct/story-fnjbnvte-1227567072625
Kakadu bushfire: Dept of Environment to investigate Ranger mine burn-off that spread to national park, ABC News, 9 Oct 15 The federal Environment Department says it will investigate a fire started by Energy Resources Australia (ERA) that spread into Kakadu National Park, threatening important cultural sites.
The fire started at ERA’s Ranger uranium mine a week ago and spread into the World Heritage-listed park, threatening several culturally sensitive Indigenous sites. In a statement to the ABC, a spokesman for Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt described the fire as a “very serious matter”.”Minister Hunt has asked the Department and Parks Australia to conduct a full and thorough investigation into the cause of the fire,” the statement said.
“No permission was sought and no approval was received for the lighting of the fire by ERA.
“We will not hesitate to seek reimbursement for the costs of firefighting if negligence or wrongdoing are in any way shown.
“Additionally, a breach of the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act can result in fines of up to $8.5 million.”
The ABC understands the NT Department of Mines and Energy will also be investigating the fire………
Aboriginal groups angry over fire
Justin O’Brien from the Gunjeihmi Corporation, which represents the area’s traditional owners, said ERA needed “to be taught about the sensitive environment” they operate in. “There’s an argument to say they should be prosecuted for what they’ve done, this is the second year in a row that they’ve done this, It’s almost a replica of last year,” he said.
“They are not learning so they need to be taught about the sensitive environment which they’re operating in.”
The Northern Land Council (NLC) said it was not confident a federal investigation would find anyone accountable for the fire.
Joe Morrison, CEO of the NLC, said he wanted to see traditional fire management practices reinstated.
“There’s been lots of fires and lots of investigations in relation to Kakadu and surrounds for a long time, we wouldn’t want to hold our breath,” Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison said he wanted to see Aboriginal people “take control of that agenda and reinstate their traditional fire management practices”. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-09/dept-of-environment-to-investigate-era-kakadu-fire/6842436
WA’s first uranium mine likely to be delayed as Toro Energy puts Wiluna on hold WESTERN Australia’s first new uranium mine is likely to be delayed due to the ongoing downturn in demand and prices, Perth Now, 1 Oct 15
Toro Energy has put its Wiluna uranium project on hold as it waits for market conditions to improve. The company began drilling at the project in 2014 and had expected to start operations in 2017.
“We will get to build Wiluna when we get the price that makes Wiluna economic. We are not seeing that price today,” managing director Vanessa Guthrie told AAP.
The project will require prices between $60 and $70 a pound to make money, Dr Guthrie said.
Long term uranium prices currently hover around $45 per pound, almost half the levels of five years ago. Prices are expected to dip further because of large stockpiles……..
Global uranium production has stalled in the past two years as depressed uranium prices have curtailed exploration activities and the opening of new mines……http://www.perthnow.com.au/business/was-first-uranium-mine-likely-to-be-delayed-as-toro-energy-puts-wiluna-on-hold/story-fnhocr4x-1227552733503
The aim was to give a green light to Australian uranium exports to India. Two objectives were to be served, one commercial, the other diplomatic. A vast new market was to be opened for Australian uranium exporters and India was to be convinced Australia was a reliable partner, worthy of a closer relationship.
Instead, as has been exposed in the Joint Parliamentary Committee, the Australian side gave away so much in the course of the negotiations on safeguards against nuclear proliferation and left open such loopholes for Australian uranium to end up in bombs or otherwise help their manufacture, that this proposed treaty does not do what Australia’s 23 existing nuclear safeguards treaties do.
Unlike them, it does not give Australian exporters legally watertight guarantees that the trade will be subject to effective controls against misuse of the uranium in ways Australian companies neither want nor could afford. So many deficiencies in the proposed treaty have been exposed it amounts at best, not to a greenlight but to a blinking yellow one. Not ‘all is guaranteed safe’ but ‘proceed carefully at your own peril’. And JSCOT’s main recommendation is a red light: no uranium exports to be permitted for the foreseeable future.
How Australian companies will respond and what risks they will be prepared to take remains to be seen, but no responsible government would have placed them in this situation.
The Indian Government has every reason to feel it too has been dudded. Instead of a reliable supply, there is a big element of precariousness. As for a demonstration of the Australian Government’s trustworthiness as a close partner, the contrary impression is conveyed of a bumbling inability to manage our own end of the deal.
By Craig Quartermaine Yellarie Source: NITV News 31 AUG 2015
TRANSCRIPT Malarndirri McCarthy: The Walkajurra Walkabout has international anti-nuclear protesters and traditional owners gathered together on some of the richest uranium deposits in the country.
Craig Quartermaine: I’m here at Yellerie Station for the Walkajurra Walkabout that will continue for the next two weeks it’s a dynamic mix of people who make their way through country
After protesters set up camp, they had a breakdown of the meeting with Toro Energy before turning in for the night……
Kado Muir is the Tjurrura man who has lead the event for the last five years .
Kado Muir, Walkajurra Walkabout organiser: So if they ever got the approval to mine it, it would dig up a 50 kilometre area, taking uranium out of the ground, turning it over, extracting the ore, leaving radioactive materials behind, all this beautiful land will end up being a radioactive wasteland……..Basically all these people share this common goal with us the Aboriginal people of this land of keeping uranium in the ground and shutting down the nuclear industry.
Rosatom sells Honeymoon uranium mine in South Australia, SMH September 1, 2015 Simon Evans Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom has finally lost patience with the Honeymoon uranium project in northern South Australia and is selling it off to an ASX-listed minnow called Boss Resources.
Honeymoon is one of the five Australian uranium mines in Australia, four of which are located in South Australia, but it has been in mothballs for the past two years because of the plunge in uranium prices which made it uneconomic to continue mining from the site.
The Honeymoon mine is located about 75 kilometres north west of the town of Broken Hill and has been through a series of changes in ownership, the last being a buyout of the Canadian firm Uranium One by the Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom. This gave Rosatom ownership of Honeymoon.
Boss Resources chairman Evan Cranston told Fairfax Media on Tuesday that one of the big attractions was the 2600 square kilometre tenement package which came with the project…….
The complex buyout by Boss involves several components including a $2.4 million cash payment, a $200,000 “site access” fee and several milestone payments into the future if the mine does go into production again. http://www.smh.com.au/business/rosatom-sells-honeymoon-uranium-mine-in-south-australia-20150901-gjci9k.html#ixzz3kWS1eIJQ
Aurora Energy suspending uranium exploration in Labrador, CBC News Company cites low prices for decision to mothball Labrador operation Sep 01, 2015 Aurora Energy has announced it is suspending uranium exploration in Labrador and is blaming lower commodity prices for the decision.
Ches Andersen, Aurora’s vice-president of Labrador affairs, said since there’s no mining underway, the parent company will mothball the Labrador operation…..
Aurora is a member of the Paladin Energy Ltd. Group of Companies, based in Australia.
Lifting of moratorium
The issue of uranium mining in Labrador has been a divisive one.
The Nunatsiavut government narrowly passed a controversial bill to put a moratorium on exploration in place in April 2008. The decision to lift the moratorium was made unanimously late in 2011….http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/aurora-energy-suspending-uranium-exploration-in-labrador-1.3209939
One of the major risks for the uranium industry is the rapid advancement of the renewable power sector, particularly in battery technology.
“We have been waiting for the Japanese nuclear power fleet to be turned back on. We had an expectation for the past two summers that it would be turned back on and that hasn’t come to pass, and that remains the biggest question for uranium prices..”
Australia is well placed to cash in on uranium boom, say mining experts The Age, August 6, 2015 Peter Ker If uranium demand were to ever boom like iron ore, Australia would make a packet. But renewables and community attitudes threaten that. If uranium demand were ever to boom in the way iron ore has over the past decade, Australia would be well placed to cash in.
With the world’s largest known uranium resource and enough mining to be the world’s third biggest producer of the nuclear fuel, Australia is already a significant player in the global uranium industry.
But that industry remains relatively small compared with the likes of gold, copper and coal, and it has endured a severe downturn over the past four years………..
dramatically reduced demand for uranium and prices have been badly depressed ever since. The benchmark price has spent the past couple of years between $US25 a pound and $US40 a pound, and uranium was fetching $US35 a pound last week.
The weak prices have forced many marginal mines around the world to close which, combined with older mines reaching the end of their working lives, has reduced the number of operating uranium mines in Australian in recent years.
Uranium is now being produced at just three Australian sites: BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, the Rio Tinto-dominated Ranger lease in the Northern Territory, and the Four Mile mine in South Australia, run by Quasar and Alliance Resources.
Mining at Ranger has stopped and the company is gradually working through the remaining stockpiles, while Olympic Dam is focused on copper and treats uranium as a byproduct.
Two others in South Australia (Russian miner Uranium One’s Honeymoon mine and US company General Atomics’ Beverley mine) closed down during 2013 and 2014 because weak uranium prices made them unviable.
But weak prices do not only hurt the mines that are already in production; they also deter companies from pushing ahead with the next generation of uranium mines, as at Ranger last month when plans for a underground expansion were abandoned.
Other Australian uranium deposits, such as the ones Toro Energy is developing in Western Australia, seem unlikely to be mined unless uranium prices significantly recover. Continue reading
why should the people of Esperance have any faith they will be protected this time around by those with responsibility to regulate mining companies and protect the community, when they failed so badly last time?
During the Esperance lead crises, Government agencies continually downplayed the seriousness of the problem and denied any serious risk to human health.
Martin Bruckner’s remarkable book Under Corporate Skies tells the shocking story of another Western Australian “Sacrifice Zone”
The inability of WA Government agencies to effectively regulate and monitor the operations and performance of multinational corporations whose rationale is profit maximization was confirmed in a recent WA Auditor General’s Report.
Esperance WA: Sacrifice zone for the profits of the uranium industry?, The Stringer, by Colin Penter July 20th, 2015 A mining industry media outlet hasreported that the uranium industry in WA is keen to establish Esperance on WA’s southern coast, as a port export hub for radioactive uranium material mined in Western Australia. Continue reading