Australian news, and some related international items

Gina Rinehart and her influence on Australian media

Like him, [her father, Lang Hancock],  she once advocated opening up new mines in Australia by using nuclear explosions. Hancock got the idea of using nukes to excavate harbours from Edward Teller, the fiercely anti-communist ”father of the H-bomb”

 She is now putting her wealth into the climate change sceptics’ movement.

right-wing Melbourne think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, which has a long association with the mining industry. The IPA is secretive about its funding but it would be a reasonable suspicion that its rapid expansion during the past two years has been financed by Gina Rinehart.

 Will readers of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald soon have to endure regular opinion pieces from climate sceptics like Monckton and Plimer, and various others still stuck in the politics of the Cold War?

Mining in a new vein, SMH Clive Hamilton, February 2, 2012 IF GINA Rinehart succeeds in getting a controlling
interest in Fairfax Media, the only competition to the Murdoch stable of newspapers in Australia, the nation’s political landscape will be changed.
Although she is famously shy of publicity, enough has emerged to make it clear that Rinehart has political views on the far right of the spectrum. Those close to her have reported that she would like to use her wealth to gain political influence.
Last year Rinehart was named by Forbes magazine Australia’s richest person. She is reported to hold more than $20 billion in assets. Citigroup estimates she is on track to become the richest person in the world.

Rinehart inherited more than father Lang Hancock’s mining company; she took on his politics, too. Hancock was described by one journalist as “a swashbuckling right-winger who believed people and governments should bow to his will”. On workers’ rights, WA secession and special deals for mining, Gina is her father’s daughter. Continue reading

February 2, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, people | 2 Comments

Climate denialist campaigner joins Gina Rinehart’s boards

Plimer does very nicely from the mining industry which has set him up for a very comfortable retirement.  He is a director of mining companies   Ivanhoe AustraliaSilver City Minerals  and the UK-listed   Kefi Minerals,  , and is chairman of TNT Mines.  He is reputed to earn more than $350,000 in director’s fees and shares — a lot more than he receives from the University of Adelaide where his fellow academics have written him off as a joke.  .

Gina brings climate sceptic on board, BY: ANDREW BURRELL  The Australian February 02, 2012   GINA Rinehart’s crusade against the Gillard government’s carbon tax has gathered steam with the appointment of one of Australia’s most prominent climate-change sceptics, Ian Plimer, to the boards of two of her key companies.

Professor Plimer, of the University of Adelaide, has served as an informal adviser to Mrs Rinehart and spoke at an event she organised for world business leaders in Perth last year.

February 2, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | | Leave a comment

Drinking water for 11 million people endangered by nuclear power plant

New York nuclear plant threatens drinking water for 11M people, (   February 01, 2012 NEW YORK – The drinking water for more than 11.3 million people could be at risk of radioactive contamination from a leak or accident at the Indian Point Nuclear Plant, located in Buchanan, New York, said a new study released on Tuesday.

According to the report by Environment New York, the state environmental advocacy organization, the drinking water intakes for 11.3 million people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are within 50 miles of Indian Point — the distance the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission uses to measure risk to food and water supplies.

The report also showed that the Indian Point Nuclear Plant threatens drinking water supplies for more than twice as many people compared to any other nuclear facility in the United States.

Environment New York is urging the state to deny the plant relicensing and to move toward a future with no nuclear power and use clean, renewable energy such as wind and solar power. The Indian Point Nuclear Plant, which is 80-minute ride from New York City, has a long history of leaks and accidental releases of radioactive material. One of its nuclear reactors was recently shut down to repair a pump, which was leaking radioactive coolant.

February 2, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Extreme weather rains on uranium mining company’s parade

Toxic year for ERA unlikely to get better, SMH, Peter Ker, February 2, 2012 THE struggling uranium miner Energy Resources Australia has underwhelmed the market with its production forecasts, raising fears its poor year last year could continue into this one.
The stock plunged almost 14 per cent yesterday after the company, majority owned by Rio Tinto, revealed a $153.6 million loss for the year to December 31. The result, despite being 427 per cent worse than the previous year, came as no surprise. The company’s Ranger mine was shut down for much of last year, and a massive depreciation of assets had already been
announced in August.
The bigger surprise for the market came when ERA forecast production of between 3000 and 3700 tonnes of uranium oxide this year, well below the 4100 tonnes forecast by analysts at Goldman Sachs.
Production figures at Ranger are highly dependent on the weather. Water management problems during the Northern Territory’s wet season often cause interruptions.
There was record rainfall in December, and ERA warned that its underwhelming production forecasts could be further affected if bad weather returned.
The ERA board has approved spending of $220 million on a brine concentrator, which will help mitigate its water problems. ERA’s future rests on hopes of finding uranium deposits beneath the Ranger open cut and turning it into an underground mine. Investors will have to wait until 2014 before knowing if the project, known as Ranger Deeps, will proceed.
ERA shares fell 21¢ to $1.33 yesterday….. Hopes that Rio Tinto will come to the rescue of another ASX-listed
uranium company, Extract Resources, appear dashed after Rio sold a strategic investment to state-owned Chinese interests.

February 2, 2012 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | 1 Comment

Malaysian opposition to Lynas, the Ugly Australian company overseas

“We are disappointed but not surprised by the very weak application presented by Lynas. Most worrying of all is that Lynas’ proposed waste management plan is full of holes and is totally unsafe. ”

Raw Earth Miners and Processors, Bad Developers, 2 Feb 12 Today marked the final day for public comments on Lynas’ application for the pre-operational licence for its Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) in Gebeng.
Together with concerned citizens including representatives from the Pahang Bar Council and the Malaysian Medical Association who converged at the Pahang Secretariat Office, SMSL and SLC delivered a joint
submission to MOSTI and the AELB urging the two authorities to reject Lynas’ application until a safer plan is produced. Continue reading

February 2, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths, uranium | Leave a comment

Still no plan for radioactive waste disposal, but Australian company Lynas gets temporary license

Lynas’s plant is near Kuantan, the capital city of the central Pahang state. Protests by residents and non-governmental organizations over the past 10 months included a march on Malaysia’s parliament and the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur….

China has been limiting rare-earth output and exports since 2009 on concerns mining activities caused pollution

Lynas Granted Temporary Rare-Earth Refining License From Malaysian Board, Bloomberg, By Manirajan Ramasamy – Feb 1, 2012 Malaysia’s Atomic Energy Licensing Board granted Lynas Corp. (LYC) a temporary operating license to begin refining rare earths under certain conditions following public protests.

The Sydney-based miner will be able to start refining under conditions that include a plan for a permanent disposal facility and paying the government a $50 million security bond in installments, the board said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
Lynas’s plant would be the world’s largest refinery of the minerals with total capacity of 22,000 tons per year should a second phase be approved and completed, the company said on Nov. 16.

Its plan to start production in September was delayed after the government imposed extra safety standards recommended by an international review panel after residents expressed fears over possible radiation and contamination. Continue reading

February 2, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, rare earths, uranium | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott insensitive to Aboriginals’ right to decide on future of their political protest

Why Abbott’s tent embassy comments were wrong, SMH, Russell Marks,February 2, 2012 “…….What was wrong with what Tony Abbott said? It was his assumption that he, as a non-indigenous man, could rightfully or usefully express an opinion on the way indigenous people conduct their politics of reform, protest and resistance. And it was that Abbott expressed such an opinion on a day many indigenous people mourn as commemorating a colonial invasion.

If non-indigenous Australians are to truly “work on our own racisms”, then we (my own ancestry is European) must not only acknowledge the problem, but we must also acknowledge indigenous people’s rights to determine their own
strategies in response to the problem…….

he remains blind to the racism that has informed nearly every policy in this area since European colonisation, from protectionism to assimilation to the Northern Territory intervention: the racism of paternalism, of “we know what’s best for you”.
Unfortunately, most of the media commentary since the incident has missed this core aspect of the protests.
The protesters’ rights to express their anger have been roundly dismissed. As the media chased the story down various rabbit holes,….. mainstream opinion is hostile to indigenous demands fortrue equality……

If non-indigenous Australians are to contribute towards improving those shameful epidemiological statistics and towards a true national reconciliation, then we must acknowledge the racism inherent in the kind of paternalism that allows Tony Abbott to express an opinion on the suitability of the tent embassy – and the racism inherent in our inability to see anything wrong with that.

February 2, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Solar power and energy efficiency save money for Queensland hospital

Hervey Bay solar projects keep powering on, My Sunshine Coast, 2 Feb 12, Energy Minister Stephen Robertson has welcomed another key milestone in the Bligh Government’s $4 million plan to help power Hervey Bay with clean energy.
Mr Robertson said Queensland Health had now completed contractual arrangements with ABB Australia to install a $1.3 million 266 kilowatt solar panel system at the Hervey Bay Hospital.

“Depending on the weather, installation will begin within a few weeks on a solar panel system that will generate approximately 385 megawatt hours of energy each year, saving the hospital around $20,000 per year on electricity costs,” Mr Robertson said.   “It will also help to reduce the hospital’s carbon emissions by 400
tonnes a year.

“An interactive web-kiosk and large screen television showing the energy being produced by the system daily, monthly and annually will also be installed in the hospital’s foyer as an education tool for visitors.

“This project and the $2.7 million Fraser Coast  Community Solar Farm are part of the Bligh Government’s commitment to renewable energy
projects…. “ABB will draw from our global expertise in the solar industry to deliver a solar power system which operates at high efficiency, providing a lower cost per kilowatt production. “Our innovative technology and expertise is gained by our involvement in many of the world’s largest turnkey solar projects.

“The hospital has already reduced its energy consumption significantly by implementing a number of energy efficiency initiatives, and with the addition of the renewable energy from this system, they will become more self sufficient.”,246

February 2, 2012 Posted by | Queensland, solar | | Leave a comment

Nuclear regulation agency should no longer be in bed with nuclear industry promotion

Nuclear regulatory reform must weed out entrenched interests, Mainichi Daily News, 2 Feb 12,  Bills relating to a shift in the nation’s nuclear power policy were approved by the Cabinet on Jan. 31. In addition to the establishment of a new nuclear regulatory agency under the Environment Ministry, the government is aiming to legislate the lifespan of nuclear reactors, and require plant operators to outline specific measures against severe nuclear accidents.

Significant harm has been done by allowing the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), an administrative body tasked to regulate nuclear power safety, to exist under the umbrella of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), a major promoter of nuclear power.

Divorcing nuclear regulation from nuclear promotion and centralizing regulatory duties into one agency stands to reason. Continue reading

February 2, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment