Australian news, and some related international items

BHP Billiton trying to lock in huge new uranium mine by splurging money in advance of BHP Board’s decision?

$1.3 billion is  a lot of money to spend on a project that might never come to fruition.  It’s a common tactic, but one that could come unstuck.  But then, I’ve always suspected that Marius Kloppers, Dean Dalla Valle, like many bigwigs might feel that they have plenty of BHP money to splash around –  perhaps an old-fashioned case of more money than sense.

The international news is not encouraging for the uranium industry – though I note that Australia’s mainstream media just ignores facts like  –  the expensive mess of nuclear transport in France and Germany, – the anti nuclear political strength gathering in France,  – the  huge anti nuclear movement and other nuclear hindrances in India, -and the ever downward price of uranium. – Christina Macpherson

South Australia Parliament approves BHP Billiton Olympic Dam expansion, by:Sarah Martin, Adelaide Now, :The Advertiser, November 30, 2011, BHP Billiton will start spending $1.2 billion on equipment for the Olympic Dam expansion in coming weeks after winning final approvals from Parliament for the deal to proceed.

The head of the company’s uranium operations, Dean Dalla Valle, said the approval paved the way for the $30 billion mine to be SouthAustralia’s economic driver for the next 40 years, but gave no guarantees BHP Billiton’s board would approve the project in 2012. Continue reading


November 30, 2011 Posted by | business, Christina reviews, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

Labor Senator and others take a principled stand against uranium exports to India

Time to make a stand over uranium salesThe West, Senator Louise Pratt, 29 Nov 11 At the Labor Party national conference this weekend I will, as the Prime Minister has called on party members to do, be making a robust contribution to important debates. In particular, I will be arguing against the export of uranium to India. I do not believe there is a place for such an export in a world worried about nuclear weapons.

In 2007, I was proud when the newly elected Federal Labor government reinvigorated Australia’s commitment to nuclear disarmament, reversing the Howard government’s neglect of an important issue. Our concern about the poor state of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons motivated us to support the establishment and work of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. Continue reading

November 30, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics | 1 Comment

France: 2nd hottest Autumn since 1900 forces closure of nuclear reactor

Dry weather starts to bite French nuclear output

 * French 2011 autumn: 2nd hottest since 1900

* Nuclear plants use water to cool their reactors

* Chooz plant already forced to stop in July due to weather

PARIS, Nov 29 (Reuters) – Dry weather conditions are starting to hit output at France’s nuclear reactors with EDF forced to stop one reactor in northern France to protect river flows, EDF said on Monday.France, the European Union’s biggest power exporter, this year experienced its driest March-May spring period in 50 years and its hottest since 1900. While rain fell over the summer, France experienced another dry bout this autumn. Autumn 2011 was the second hottest since the start of the 20th century and rainfall in October was 45 percent lower than average, according to French weather forecaster Meteo France.

Nuclear plants use water to cool their reactors. French power producer EDF, which operates the country’s 58 reactors, is not allowed to keep reactors operating if water temperatures rise beyond a set level or if flows fall below authorised limits.

A spokesman at EDF’s Chooz nuclear plant, located close to the Belgian border, said the utility had not restarted the 1,450-megawatt reactor 1 as planned on November 28 to safeguard minimum river flows.”There is an agreement between France and Belgium whereby France owes Belgium a minimum of 20 cubic metre per second on a 12-day average,” the spokesman said…….

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Indian government slow to understand the people’s opposition to nuclear power

Koodankulam struggle: Western nations are learning from their mistakes, India is notThe Weekend Leader,   By Nityanand Jayaraman & Sundar Rajan, Chennai, 30 Nov 2011, Since August 2011, Tamil Nadu has witnessed renewed protests against the commissioning of the first of two 1,000 MW power plants as part of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP).

While protests have been ongoing against the project since the proposal was mooted in 1988, the impending commissioning of the reactors in light of the devastating and uncontrollable nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, has rightly triggered a wave of concern among thinking people in India.

The protest against nuclear power plants is not isolated to Koodankulam. Even as we speak, fisherfolk and farmers in Jaitapur, Maharashtra, and farmers and residents of Gorakhpur, Haryana, are saying a loud “No” to nuclear power plants in their area. Haripur, West Bengal, which was to be a site for Russian reactors, will no longer be on the nuclear map, as the state government bowed to local sentiment and declared West Bengal a nuclear-free state.

Wise people do learn from others’ mistakes. Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium and Japan have all announced that they will move away from the nuclear option, and explore clean and sustainable forms of electricity generation.

But India’s chest-thumping “nucleocracy” wants to play the death game, with peasants and fisherfolk as pawns in the gamble.The staunch and united protests by farmers, traders and fisherfolk in Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Thoothukudi have scared the nuclear establishment.

Faced with the real prospect of having to abandon the project, the Congress-led UPA government is doing what it does best — divide and rule; communalise the issue and allege that foreign hands are at play…..

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Police violence against 25000 anti nuclear activists in Germany and France

 After 126 hours en route the 13th CASTOR delivery arrived for storage in Gorleben. The longest and most expensive delivery trip ever was caused by blockades of anti-nuclear activists, starting in France, continuing throughout Germany and culminating in the Gorleben area itself. 

After a trip of nearly five and a half days from Normandy in France the 13th delivery of processed German nuclear waste reached the “temporary” storage hall in Gorleben, a village in northwest Germany at about 10 pm on Monday   +++  Police perpetrated massive violence and breaches of the law against demonstrators, injuring at least 355 with truncheons, gas, dogs, horses and water cannons  +++   The 25,000 activists in the county were the second largest number ever   +++   Resistance against the shipment began in France where activists reported police violence against them but also an upsurge of anti-nuclear sentiment in the country   +++   In the Gorleben area resistance took the form of rail and road squats, chain-ons (one caused a 14-hour delay in the train journey) and massive road traffic disruptions, notably by farmers with tractors and agricultural machinery +++(See German Source here)

The activists’ first aid team of doctors and other health professionals report treating at least 355 injured by police, including serious head wounds and a suspected vertebral fracture from truncheoning. About a third of the injuries were caused by gas, the others mainly by truncheons. One person was run down by a horse, another had a tooth bashed out. Some police who’d been affected by their own mace or who were totally exhausted (10 cases) were also treated. In some cases the first aiders were denied access, especially during the trucking phase. Nine were ordered away from places. A doctor was not allowed to examine an arrested injured person. In another case first aiders were kettled while washing out people’s eyes. There were several cases of police violence against first aiders, e.g. one was injured by gas, another by several blows with a truncheon. A first aid camp in Laase was overrun linkby police, who threatened and insulted first aiders. The group is shocked by the high number of injured which will probably rise because not all the numbers are in yet.

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Geothermal power for Australia should not be ignored

A Clean Resource Too Large to be Ignored – Geothermal Power Gains Steam Triple Pundit  By  | November 28th, “……..recent studies showing that the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia – Western Australia in particular – have geothermal resources that dwarf their energy needs, and despite the fact that it’s a proven, time-tested, economic source of clean, reliable baseload power….

November 30, 2011 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | 1 Comment

Uranium sales to India – nuclear weapons aspect ignored by media and government

Yes, but India has nuclear weapons! Australia may begin exporting uranium to India, but proponents have hijacked what is primarily an arms control debate. Aljazeera, NAJ Taylo r  29 Nov 2011  “…..The Labor Party will vote on whether to change its policy position, thereby exporting uranium to India, at its national conference held in Sydney, December 2-4, 2011.  

As discussed in part one, on November 15 Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard proposed an amendment to her party’s longstanding and non-negotiable position on uranium exports: that recipient states must be members of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

The immediate response in Australian news media was politically orchestrated and myopically centred on Gillard’sbelief that Australia’s economy and job seekers will benefit, and that India requires a modern policy in line with “the international community”. Few commentators appeared committed to seriously debating the uranium exports in the gritty terms of arms control ……

according to the Australia and Japan-led International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament report in 2009:

“10.5… One criticism – frequently voiced since the India agreement – is that [Nuclear Suppliers Group] members may be driven by commercial incentives to be less rigorous in their approach to countries not applying comprehensive safeguards or not party to the NPT.”

“10.7 The main substantive problem with the deal is that it removed all non-proliferation barriers to nuclear trade with India in return for very few significant non-proliferation and disarmament commitments by it. The view was taken that partial controls – with civilian facilities safeguarded – were better than none.”

Two years after these dire warnings – incidentally by an International Commission co-chaired by our former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans and instigated by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – Gillard also appears to be primarily “driven by commercial incentives” and a perceived diplomatic dividend…..

it’s not the strength or frequency of criticism of the existing policy that is troubling to me, but the flawed arms control logic within, and moral grandstanding of, their arguments.

For if this sort of willing delusion prevails, and uranium sales to India go ahead, then undoubtedly this will be a pivotal moment when nuclear arms control returns to those tense and cold days from which, this time, we may never turn back.

November 30, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Credit rating agency warns on doubtful future for nuclear industry in France

In our view, the pact could have significant adverse credit implications for both EDF and AREVA over the longer term.

TEXT-S&P comments on French Green-Socialist Electoral Pact, Reuters Nov 28- The French Green and Socialist parties’ announced an electoral pact to reduce France’s dependence on nuclear power on Nov. 15, 2011.

Based on its reading of the pact, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services understands that:– 24 out the 58 nuclear reactors operated by Electricite de France S.A. (EDF; AA-/Stable/A-1+) in France would close by 2025, of which two reactors in Fessenheim would be immediately shut down. The pact aims to reduce France’s dependence on nuclear power to 50% from 75% currently.

— No new nuclear projects would be initiated. Continue reading

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Politics in France – profound implications for the uranium industry

Uranium and the French threat [to the nuclear and uranium  industries] 9 News, 30 Nov 11 France will hold presidential elections in two rounds in April and May followed by parliamentary elections in June. Polls currently suggest Socialist Party candidate Francois Hollande would knock off incumbent president Nicholas Sarkozy if elections were held today.

Assuming presidential polls also reflect parliamentary preferences, Deutsche suggests the nuclear industry should be rather concerned about a policy agreement between the Socialist Party and the French version of the Greens. The agreement, which is yet to be formerly signed, is to undertake to close 24 of France’s 58 nuclear reactors by 2025. Two would be closed immediately and a moratorium would be placed on any new construction outside of the one plant currently being built.

In the scheme of things, suggests Deutsche, such a move would be a lot more significant than Germany’s decision to wind down nuclear power made earlier this year after the Fukushima disaster. It would likely also prompt a nuclear rethink across all of the European Union, with Belgium an obvious first candidate for change…..

Deutsche will watch political developments closely given the potentially “profound” implications for uranium prices on the one hand and gas prices on the other, ….

November 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) buyng into the Thorium dream?

Anything to keep the nuclear industry alive?

Australian and Czech consortium announce thorium joint venture Australian Mining – Cole Latimer  – 30 Nov 11 Arrangements will be discussed with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) which is responsible for monitoring the activity and … (Website was not available to me, – Christina Macpherson) 

Technology transitions always happen faster than the conventional market predicts Thorium is the latest suggestion from those attempting to distract us from renewables as the solution, but according to those in the nuclear research arena, thorium realistically is at least 50 years away from being realized.

November 30, 2011 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment