Australian news, and some related international items

Wrap up of the week’s Australian nuclear news

Olympic Damn uranium mine.  There is doubt about the future of BHP Billiton’s planned new mega mine  (biggest man-made hole in the world).  The project will cost about $30 billion to set up, before making one cent of profit – some 30 years hence. No wonder investors are  a bit jittery about it.  With the global economic down-turn, a slowing Chinese economy, low copper price, and continuing slide in uranium price, BHP is having second thoughts. Investment fund managers are relieved.

Of course, especially in the Australian media BHP executives Jacques Nasser and wonder boy Marius Kloppers are blaming it on the Australian government’s mining tax,  (even though uranium mining is exempt) and on the carbon tax. And, BHP is mounting a determined campaign against the unions. Subservient Australian federal and State governments vow to help BHP with their damn expansion.

Global warming. A revolutionary new research study shows that the Australasian region has warmed more over the past 5 years, than in the past 1000 years, and attributes this to man-made greenhouse emissions.

Muckaty nuclear waste dump plan.  Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) comes out strongly against this Northern Territory waste dump plan. Ian Howe explains the wisdom of temporary nuclear waste storage at Lucas Heights, and calls for a public inquiry and public discussion on Australia’s nuclear wastes.

Radiation monitoring. The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) doesn’t do very much of this. Less than 1% of base stations in Australia have been radiation tested

Coal seam gas Most of the scientists advising the federal government on coal-seam gas pollution have financial links with the mining industry.

May 18, 2012 Posted by | Christina reviews | Leave a comment

Dubious future for uranium market – will BHP pull the plug on the Olympic Dam project?

projects such as the massive expansion of the Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine in Australia and the potash development in Canada are far less certain…… Where the money is put will say a lot about their expectations for demand for specific commodities now and into the future.

 Knives Are Out, But Will BHP and Rio Cut?, WSJ, By Robb M. Stewart, May 16, 2012,    BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have signaled that harder times lie ahead for global miners but have given little indication of where the cuts, if any, will come to the billions of dollars worth of mining projects that both have in the pipeline in Australia and globally.

Neither is backtracking on their long held view about China’s long-term demand for iron ore and coal, but it is now clear that not every expansion project is guaranteed to get off the ground in the current environment–and those that do will be phased in over a longer time period…

… “Clearly what we’ve seen over the last 12 months or so is that our projected rate of cash generation has changed. So on balance while we still want to invest throughout the cycle, it just means that our ability to do those projects will change as the cash flow generation has changed,” Marius Kloppers, chief executive of BHP, told a mining conference in Miami overnight…..
Jacques Nasser, the mining giant’s chairman, speaking in Sydney on
Wednesday made it even clearer: the US$80 billion over five years that
BHP has previously said would be invested on its mining and petroleum
businesses, is no longer a target. Continue reading

May 18, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia | | Leave a comment

Research results on low-dose radiation confirm the accepted linear theory of radiation cancer

Low-Dose Radiation ☢ NEW A-Bomb Study

The most important finding regarding the late effects of A-bomb radiation exposure on mortality is an increased risk
of cancer mortality throughout life
Significant radiation-associated increases in risk have been seen for most sites of solid cancer. The dose–response relationship for these sites has tended to show an approximately linear increase with radiation dose. The relative risks for many cancer sites were higher in those exposed as children. 
Studies of the Mortality of Atomic Bomb Survivors, Report 14, 1950–2003: http://www An Overview of Cancer and Noncancer Diseases
Kotaro Ozasa, a,1 Yukiko Shimizu, a Akihiko Suyama, a Fumiyoshi Kasagi, a,b Midori Soda, a Eric J. Grant, a Ritsu Sakata, a Hiromi Sugiyama a and Kazunori Kodama c a Department of Epidemiology and c Chief Scientist, Radiation Effects Research Foundation, 5-2 Hijiyama-koen, Minami-ku, Hiroshima, 732-0815, Japan; and b Institute of Radiation Epidemiology, Radiation Effects Association 1-9-16, Kaji-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0044, Japan
This is the 14th report in a series of periodic general reports on mortality in the Life Span Study (LSS) cohort of
atomic bomb survivors followed by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation to investigate the late health effects of
the radiation from the atomic bombs. During the period 1950–2003, 58% of the 86,611 LSS cohort members with
DS02 dose estimates have died.
The 6 years of additional follow-up since the previous report provide substantially more information at longer periods after radiation exposure (17% more cancer deaths), especially among those under age 10 at exposure (58% more deaths)…… Continue reading

May 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Further evidence that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the Australian region

“Our study revealed that recent warming in a 1,000-year context is highly unusual and cannot be explained by natural factors alone, suggesting a strong influence of human-caused climate change in the Australasian region,” 

1,000 years of climate data confirms Australia’s warming  May 17, 2012 By Alvin Stone In the first study of its kind in Australasia, scientists used 27 natural climate records to create the first large-scale temperature reconstruction for the region over the past 1,000 years. The study led by researchers at the University of Melbourne, used a range of natural indicators including tree rings, corals and ice cores to study Australasian temperatures over the past millennium. They then compared these with climate model simulations. Continue reading

May 18, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | | Leave a comment

Distributed renewable energy bringing about an energy revolution

 The Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission also recognised that distributed generation also offered a cheap form of energy, and made the network more efficient. 

Nuclear’s financing meltdown   While the technology costs of renewable technologies are falling rapidly, the costs of new nuclear appear to going in the other direction with equal speed

Five things we learned this week, REneweconomy , By    18 May 2012 “…….Solar costs are coming down rapidly …. It seems everyone is now cottoning on to the idea that costs of solar PV have come down so rapidly that the technology is likely to revolutionise the electricity industry, at least at the retail level.

Welcome to the new world of “socket parity”, where comparisons with the price of rooftop solar and the electricity produced at coal-fired power stations becomes redundant, because consumers only care about the cost of electricity at the socket. In Australia, despite its abundant cheap coal, its overcapitalised network guarantees that the grid-based power will be more expensive.

NRG CEO David Crane said this week that solar PV is so cheap, and so compelling for residential and commercial customers, that it would likely do to the electricity grid what mobiles did to fixed line telephony,which basically means that much of the current infrastructure would be made redundant, and the industry would be dominated in the future by new, nimble players with different energy products. …..

Wind costs are falling too …. Continue reading

May 18, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Most Americans see corrupt politics as promoting nuclear, and stalling renewable energy

the public has clearly picked up on the fact that corrupt politics is a key reason we don’t have more of that. 82% of Americans (69% of Republicans, 84% of Independents, and 95% of Democrats) agree with this statement: “The time is now for a new, grassroots-driven politics to realize a renewable energy future.

76% of Americans Want Clean Energy Instead of Nuclear, Natural Gas, & Coal Clean Technica MAY 15, 2012 BY ZACHARY SHAHAN  Yet another recent poll showed that Americans really support clean energy, across political affiliations (though, there’s clearly more support on the left).

The ORC International survey, conducted for the nonprofit and nonpartisan Civil Society Institute (CSI), found that 76% of Americans (58% of Republicans, 83% of Independents, and 88% of Democrats) want to see ”a reduction in our reliance on nuclear power, natural gas and coal, and instead, launch a national initiative to boost renewable energy and energy efficiency.” (And who knows what the remaining 24% are smoking?) Continue reading

May 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Investment fund manager relieved that BHP will delay expansion

Fund manager welcomes BHP’s capex pullback, THE AUSTRALIAN,BY:BARRY FITZGERALD , May 18, 2012 BHP Billiton’s move to wind back plans to spend $US80 billion ($80.5bn) over five years on growth projects has been applauded by the head of Perennial Investment Partners’ growth funds, Lee Mickelburough.

Mr Mickelburough was one of the few local investment managers to publicly criticise BHP’s big-bang growth plan after it was revealed by the company in February last year…  subscribers only

May 18, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

Negative investor sentiment delaying expansion of Olympic Dam uranium mine?

 the $10 billion initial expansion of Olympic Dam may be stretched out over a longer period, analysts and investors said….. BHP would have to seek an extension from the South Australian state government if it fails to commit to the Olympic Dam project by December, or else it would lose its approvals for the project….

BHP may delay at least two mega projects to rein in spending,   By Sonali Paul MELBOURNE May 17 (Reuters) BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest miner, is likely to delay signing off on at least two mega projects after its chairman put the brakes on an $80 billion plan to grow the company’s iron ore, copper and energy operations, analysts say.

Slumping commodity prices and escalating costs have squeezed cash flows, pushing BHP to join rival Rio Tinto in reconsidering the pace of their long-term expansion in countries such as Australia and Canada.  “The major message is: ‘We can’t approve anything right now. We don’t have a spare cent to spend,'” UBS analyst Glyn Lawcock said.

In BHP’s bleakest outlook yet, Chairman Jacques Nasser said on Wednesday the company expects commodity markets to deteriorate further and that investors have lost confidence in the longer-term health of the global economy. Continue reading

May 18, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

Australia’s uranium to India, but not to Pakistan

 Nuclear deal with Pakistan not possible: Australian HC, Business Recorder 18 May 12,    Australian High Commissioner Tim George on Thursday said nuclear deal similar to Australian-Indo nuclear agreement was not possible with Pakistan. George, whose three-year term as Australian envoy to Pakistan comes to an end, was speaking at a farewell news conference.  To a question, he said Pakistan does not qualify for Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) and a bilateral nuclear agreement similar to his country struck with India, was not possible with Pakistan……

May 18, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Distributed energy – solar and wind, brings economic benefits

It’s possible to reduce today’s energy consumption for street and road lighting by as much as 60% with new technologies – LED, smart lighting, distributed wind energy and even lights out programs. 

The distributed energy market refers to small-scale energy produced primarily for on-site energy consumption meaning street lights, roof tops and ledges anything that requires a direct power source. In 2011, the size of the distributed renewable energy market was estimated around $70 billion dollars globally. It’s expected to top $150 billion by 2015. Because distributed energy is generated at the source of where energy is needed, the inefficient transmission lines are eliminated, creating a more direct source of  renewable energy, with the traditional grid being used as a supplemental energy source.

Urban wind solutions from newcomers are also on the rise.

Small Wind Energy Goes Urban In Italy, Korea, Brazil And Texas  Streetlights usually operate at electricity rates like the ones we pay in our private homes. About one-third of a municipality’s electrical costs are for street lighting. So having that energy provided by some form of renewable energy, means that every cent is saved and for municipalities, whose budgets are being squeezed, that’s something serious to consider. Continue reading

May 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment