Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s mainstream media – ignoring Olympic Dam uranium mine, while they cover Climate Denialism?

19 Oct 11,  There might be some delay in updating this website, due to circumstances.

A pity, because it is an interesting, and rather scary time, in Australian politics.  The mainstream media continues to focus on the ?wrongs and rights of Australia’s carbon tax legislation.   Plenty of coverage to Australia’s anti carbon tax enthusiasts.  Little or no coverage of the international approval as Australia joins the many countries now choosing to act on climate change.

Barely a mention of the hastily rushed approvals for BHP Billiton to create the world’s hugest uranium mine, biggest man made hole, and biggest area of radioactive waste.  The South Australian Parliament must now go through the process of approving  a new Indenture Act –   I bet that Labor and Liberal would like to rush this through too, while Australia’s mainstream media looks away.

In Victoria, the Baillieu government has handed out approvals for coal seam exploration and mining.  However, this government, with not a shred of scientific evidence, has decide to prevent wind energy from going forward.

And – to return to the BHP plan.  As Mike Rann and Mariius Kloppers congratulate each other –  one wonders whether the new big uranium mine might turn out to be an expensive folly.  It won’t make a profit for at least 20 years.  Who knows whether even the copper price will stay high, let alone the uranium price?

The uranium market is in  a mess.  And, as well as the continually down ward price trend, nuclear fuel providers compete with each other.  Thorium might win – no need for uranium, then.  Reprocessing might win. No need for uranium then.  The USA and Russia might increase sales of old weapons grade uranium, seeing that they don’t know what else to do with it – no need for uranium then.

The new BHP Billiton $30 billion copper-uranium mine is an expensive gamble.   – Christina Macpherson

October 18, 2011 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

The definitive story on the new BHP Billiton Olympic Dam uranium mine

Complete with photos of the region’s dust storms, and videos of David Bradbury’s latest film, videos about water use, videos from Gavin Mudd and Scott Ludlam .

Uranium mine expansion to unleash radioactive dust storms across Australia

Independent Australia, 19 Oct 11 Environment correspondent Sandi Keane takes an in-depth look at the troubling implications of the Olympic Dam uranium mine expansion before asking: “Is Occupy Roxby Downs a possibility?”

“….. take-home messages that will haunt you after watching David Bradbury’s new shocker,Wake Up. Filmmaker, Bradbury, is lauded by critics for his superbly made documentaries.  With five AFI awards, two Academy Award nominations and countless international film festival prizes under his belt, the horrific consequences of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam expansion are told in chilling, graphic detail. Invest 12 minutes of your children’s future and watch it….

The Federal Government’s crucial environmental approval of the expansion of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine at Roxby Downs was cynically announced on the eve of the historic Clean Energy Bill’s vote in the lower house — with good reason. To bury it. Last week’s reported sighting of Premier, Mike Rann, in Canberra at the Federal government’s tax summit, signalled a fast-track decision by the Environment Minister was in the wings. A week later, Premier Mike Rann signed the agreement with BHP just days before departing politics on 20thOctober

Rushed isn’t the word for this disgraceful lack of process. For what? So Premier Rann can have his name on a piece of paper and a plaque at the site? Or be catapaulted into the lucrative world of the “pale, male and stale” brigade of political retirees on multinational mining boards? read more at:

October 18, 2011 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Hindrances in South Australian Parliament to BHP BIlliton’s plan for monster uranium mine

Greens call for inquiry into Olympic Dam expansion, SMH Peter KerOctober 18, 2011 APPROVAL for BHP Billiton’s massive Olympic Dam expansion may not proceed as quickly as the global miner would like, with minor parties in the South Australian parliament seeking to slow the process by attempting to force the company to front a parliamentary inquiry.

The indenture agreement struck by BHP and the SA Government for Olympic Dam will be introduced to the state’s parliament today or tomorrow, and must be approved by both chambers to have any legal power.

The Premier Mike Rann – who will retire on Friday – wants Parliament to approve the bill as soon as possible, and BHP has promised to start spending up to $US1.2 billion as soon as the bill secures passage through the Parliament.

But Mr Rann’s Labor Party does not control the upper house of Parliament, where a group of seven minor party MP’s have the balance of power. Two of those MPs represent the Greens Party, and Greens leader Mark Parnell said the agreement was so important to South Australia’s future it must be fully analysed by a select committee with powers to call and question BHP executives.

Mr Parnell said the delay should pose no problem given BHP does not expect to take a final investment decision until mid 2012. ”What is the point of the SA Parliament cutting corners and rushing this through when the company isn’t going to decide until the middle of next year anyway,” he said.

Mr Parnell wants to quiz BHP over why more processing of Olympic Dam’s copper, uranium and gold could not take place in Australia, as well as the environmental impacts. Despite the approvals process running over many years and through hundreds of pages of environmental impact statements, Mr Parnell said the public had never had a chance to publicly question BHP officials.

“It is time, as Parliament sets to sign off on the biggest deal in South Australia’s history, to finally get some straight answers on this enormous project,” he said.   :


October 18, 2011 Posted by | Olympic Dam, South Australia, uranium | , | Leave a comment

South Australian Premier Mike Rann having a bet each way on his uranium “legacy”

Two faced Premier Mike Rann, previously elected as S.A. Labor Party’s spokesman AGAINST uranium mining, went on to be a fervent servant of BHP Billiton. Now he wants to have his “legacy” as having approved. the monster Olympic Dam open cut uranium mine.

BUT – that mightn’t work out.  Olympic Damn has a good chance of becoming an environmental and economic nightmare for South Australia.   So, just in case, Mr Rann is now piously giving himself the credit for saving Arkaroola Wildreness from uranium mining.  (Bad luck, Marathon Resources,  your Premier dumped you for BHP.) – Christina Macpherson

Arkaroola protection bill going to SA Parliament ABC News, October 17, 2011  Premier Mike Rann has visited Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary to promote this week’s introduction of legislation to permanently protect the area from mining.

The South Australian Premier sees Arkaroola’s protection as some of his last business before he steps out of the limelight…

His Government signed the Olympic Dam indenture with BHP Billiton last week, another key project Mr Rann leaves as his legacy….. New laws will ban all types of mining at Arkaroola and come four years after exploration waste was dumped at Mount Gee in the area by explorer Marathon Resources. Arkaroola also has been provisionally listed on the state heritage register and will be nominated for national and world heritage listing…

Marathon Resources had spent millions of dollars exploring at Arkaroola and its share price has fallen since the mining ban was flagged.It is negotiating with the SA Government for compensation.

October 18, 2011 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

Nuclear corruption in Japan

Japan’s ministries were never intended to regulate industry. Rather, they were intended to promote it. This is a form of government known as the “capitalist development state,” in which the state actively fosters the growth of selected industries through a partnership between industry and bureaucracy (ministries)….. 
Campaign cash from the electric power industry….Given the strong pronuclear bias of Japan’s electric power companies, this effectively guarantees Japanese government support for nuclear power…..The result is that the elite of Japan receives an education that is decidedly pronuclear, while research into the dangers of nuclear power is actively discouraged.
Corrupted academics: The Japanese nuclear industry provides generous support to academic institutions and individual professors in order to influence their views on nuclear power.
Noda, tear down this ‘nuclear village’ -HOTLINE TO NAGATACHOCHRIS ROWTHORN Japan Times , Kyoto  Oct. 18, 2011

Dear Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda,
The Great East Japan Earthquake was a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions. While the quake and tsunami did tremendous damage to Tohoku, the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant did even more harm to the country by threatening the health of the population, weakening Japan’s economy, and tarnishing Japan’s reputation as an efficient and safe country.

However, the disaster also represents a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Japan to reinvent itself.

Looking at the damage wrought by Fukushima No. 1, it is clear that Japan must eliminate nuclear power. Japan has too many earthquakes and tsunamis to operate nuclear plants safely. However, the most important reasons to eliminate nuclear power in Japan are human, not geological. Foremost among these human factors is Japan’s peculiar industrial-bureaucratic partnership.

The following is a brief list of reasons why nuclear power plants cannot be operated safely in Japan. Continue reading

October 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Sydney’s Hunter’s Hill uranium radioactive wastes might be dumped in western suburb

Sydney’s uranium waste could still go west, Josephine ToveyOctober 18, 2011   The Premier, Barry O’Farrell, will not rule out sending waste from a former uranium plant in Hunters Hill to western Sydney, despite the Coalition campaigning against the move when it was in opposition.

The Keneally government had signed a contract with SITA Environmental Solutions at Kemps Creek to dispose of the waste but withdrew from it last year after an outcry from the community.

Liberal candidate for Mulgoa Tanya Davies, who won the seat, had accused the former government of using her electorate as “dumping ground for Sydney”….

October 18, 2011 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

India’s people attuned to need for clean non-nuclear energy

Uncommon India, Dissident Voice, by Nidhi Zakaria Eipe / October 15th, 2011 “……..Instead of criticizing Australia’s decision [against selling uranium to India] both India and the United States would do well to take a page from Australia’s book, one of the earliest ratifiers of the CTBT. India’s long-touted ‘impeccable record of non-proliferation’ does not provide a moral warrant for it to circumvent internationally established instruments of law and co-operation.

Moreover, when India has already declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear weapons testing, what is the profound difficulty in making this commitment legally binding? A no-first-strike policy appears to translate to a no-first move-policy too, as India refuses to lead—as it has before—an active, committed and urgent initiative to achieve global nuclear disarmament.

It would also be prudent for  India to explore less controversial, more environmentally-friendly forms of energy for its burgeoning population, especially in light of disasters like those at Chernobyl and Fukushima, growing issues with the secure disposal of nuclear waste, and decisions by some countries to phase out nuclear power entirely.  The Indian people are, perhaps, more attuned to these concerns than their government, judging by ongoing protests against proposed nuclear power plants, ranging from Jaitapur in the West to Kudankulam in the South…..

October 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s New England area has bright future for farmers and wind energy

The huge commercial wind farm planned for Sapphire, between Glen Innes and Inverell, has negotiated with more than 20 landholders to take between 150 and 170 turbines.

“Those turbines are all on large properties,” Mr Cruickshank said. “They can run their sheep and cattle without any difference, they get a good return, and there aren’t any neighbours who are affected.”

Wind power puts region in renewable energy box seat, The Armidale Express JANENE CAREY 17 Oct, 2011  NATURAL advantages are making New England a significant part of the push to source 20 per cent of Australia’s energy from renewables by 2020.

Paul Cruickshank, one of the speakers at a low-carbon economy seminar held in Armidale said that although this region has the potential for large scale solar, our real advantage lies in wind power.  Continue reading

October 18, 2011 Posted by | energy, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Clean Energy Finance Corp could guide Australia to be a renewable energy super power

Clean Energy Finance Corp vital to untainted future –Cowra Community News, 18 Oct 11,   ACF  THE Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has welcomed the appointment of Jillian Broadbent AO as chair of an expert review panel that will advise on the design of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.  The foundation has also urged the federal Government to enshrine the new body in law by April 2012 “so it can start investing in the next wave of renewable, clean energy by July 2013”.

“The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will harness Aussie innovation in cutting edge technologies like solar thermal, geothermal and wave power,” says the ACF’s economic adviser, Simon O’Connor, in a statement.

“Australia has massive untapped, abundant renewable energy resources, yet we have failed to capitalise on this natural competitive advantage. “Funding for renewable energy has struggled to match commercial needs, with the result that Australian-made technology has gone to China, California and Spain.

“Now, the CEFC will help fill the renewable energy ‘valley of death’, keeping Australian technology here and creating Aussie jobs.  “Returns on public investment through a CEFC are far better than the returns delivered through grant programs.
“Combined with a carbon price, this is the most economically efficient way to turbo-charge the renewable energy sector, which is why we are seeing many countries setting up finance corporations, like the UK’s Green Investment Bank.

“The renewable energy industry is ready, investors are ready, Australians are ready – it’s time to get on with the job and help Australia become a clean energy superpower.”  Further detail about the CEFC in the ACF’s report, Helping Australia Compete in the Renewable Energy Race, at       /CEFC.

October 18, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Grandiose uranium mine depicted as a tourist attraction!

As well as a giant open pit, the company will leave behind a small mountain of unused rocks and a large tailings storage facility, which will need to be fenced off with warnings of the potential for radiation exposure.

Once mining stops, the pit is expected to fill with rising groundwater, creating a vast outback lake that would be up to 350m deep.

BHP Billiton says backfilling is not a feasible option and has suggested the South Australian Government resume control of the pit and turn it into a managed tourist attraction. It says the government would be responsible for building and maintaining viewing platforms and controlling access by tourists, students and scientists.

It suggests the rock storage, where it will dump the ”overburden” of surface rock and soil which will take about five years to remove, should be returned as crown land and could also be used for tourism….

The expanded mine is planned to be productive for 40 years……

Over the next four decades, the open pit will grow to be more than 4km long, 3.5km wide and 1km deep……

Anti-nuclear groups and the Greens have criticised the conditions for not going far enough, but are equally concerned about what will be left behind.

The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance said almost nine billion tonnes of radioactive waste would remain in northern SA. A spokeswoman said if that was acceptable to the SA Government, then it was setting the bar ”extremely low”.

”The radioactive waste will remain on Kokatha and Arabunna country long after BHP Billiton packs up its business and moves on,” she said, referring to traditional indigenous landowners of the region….

October 18, 2011 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment