Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s uranium companies put on a bold face, but their prospects are not good

The uranium price tanked after the Fukushima disaster and so far there is no sign of a bounce. Current prices are too low to allow the smaller uranium wannabes to proceed with any confidence.

Uranium flashpoint in the wild West,    The Drum, Jim Green, 22 May 12,  Interesting times in the uranium sector. The mining companies have had a few wins in the 14 months since the Fukushima disaster, but they’ve had more losses.

Bill Repard, organiser of the Paydirt Uranium Conference held in Adelaide in February, put on a brave face with this claim: The sector’s hiccups in the wake of Fukushima are now over with, the global development of new nuclear power stations continues unabated, and the Australian sector has literally commenced a U-turn in every sense.

Yet for all the hype, uranium accounts for a lousy 0.03 per cent of Australian export revenue and a negligible 0.02 per cent of Australian jobs. The industry’s future depends on the nuclear power ‘renaissance’, but global nuclear power capacity has been stagnant for the past 20 years, and if there is any growth at all in the next 20 years, it will be modest. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, spinbuster, uranium | Leave a comment

BHP reluctant to develop its Western Australian Yeelirrie uranium mining project

Procrastinating BHP pressured over uranium deposit, Rania Spooner May 23, 2012  BHP Billiton has been challenged to develop or sell a West Australian uranium deposit, amid growing speculation it may offload the deposit later this year.

Despite a pro-uranium WA government, BHP Billiton delayed submission of the draft environmental review and management program for its Yeelirrie uranium project in June, citing a failure to meet internal standards and flagging a delay of at least six months. Almost a year later,.. speculation grows that a sell-down of the asset is imminent Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Toro Energy’s plan to track radioactive material through Western Australia and Northern Territory



The Australian, 23 May 12 WEST Australian yellowcake will be carted thousands of kilometres across state borders and shipped out of Adelaide or Darwin in a bold plan that limits political fallout in the west and puts the blowtorch on federal Labor to increase uranium exports.

South Australian company Toro Energy yesterday received approval from the WA Environmental Protection Authority to mine 1200 tonnes of uranium ore from its Wiluna operations, 520km north of Kalgoorlie, and to truck it in 200-litre drums across the Nullarbor. Once it crosses state lines, it will go direct to Adelaide and be shipped out or put on rail to Darwin.

The plan means the yellowcake will not have to be shipped through the port at Fremantle, near Perth, where the local council’s policy declares that “no uranium, nuclear waste nor other material connected with the nuclear power industry may be stored or transported in or through the municipality”.

May 23, 2012 Posted by | safety, Western Australia | Leave a comment

World can expect severe nuclear accidents every 10 – 20 years

The computer simulations revealed that, on average, only eight percent of the 137Cs particles are expected to deposit within an area of 50 kilometres around the nuclear accident site. Around 50 percent of the particles would be deposited outside a radius of 1,000 kilometres, and around 25 percent would spread even further than 2,000 kilometres.
These results underscore that reactor accidents are likely to cause radioactive contamination well beyond national borders.

If a single nuclear meltdown were to occur in Western Europe, around 28 million people on average would be affected by contamination of more than 40 kilobecquerels per square meter. This figure is even higher in southern Asia, due to the dense populations. A major nuclear accident there would affect around 34 million people, while in the eastern USA and in East Asia this would be 14 to 21 million people.

Severe Nuclear Reactor Accidents Likely Every 10 to 20 Years, European Study Suggests ScienceDaily (May 22, 2012) — Western Europe has the worldwide highest risk of radioactive contamination caused by major reactor accident. Catastrophic nuclear accidents such as the core meltdowns in Chernobyl and Fukushima are more likely to happen than previously assumed.

Based on the operating hours of all civil nuclear reactors and the number of nuclear meltdowns that have occurred, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz have calculated that such events may
occur once every 10 to 20 years (based on the current number of reactors) — some 200 times more often than estimated in the past.

The researchers also determined that, in the event of such a major accident, half of the radioactive caesium-137 would be spread over an area of more than 1,000 kilometres away from the nuclear reactor. Their results show that Western Europe is likely to be contaminated about once in 50 years by more than 40 kilobecquerel of caesium-137
per square meter. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, an area is defined as being contaminated with radiation from this amount onwards. In view of their findings, the researchers call for an in-depth analysis and reassessment of the risks associated with nuclear power plants. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Conservation Council opposes Wiliuna uranium mine, Kalgoorlie mayor not enthusiastic, either

The Kalgoorlie-Boulder mayor Ron Yuryevich says he is not opposed to the project as long as the uranium is not transported through residential areas of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

Council to challenge Toro’s uranium approval, ABC News May 22, 2012  The Conservation Council is to challenge the approval of Toro Energy’s proposed uranium mine in Western Australia’s northern Goldfields. Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Authority gave the go-ahead for the company’s proposal to develop the mine 30 kilometres from Wiluna. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | | Leave a comment

Opposition to Western Australia’s first uranium mining project

“The EPA has ignored the serious risks associated with transporting toxic and radioactive material through Western Australian communities, and has given us no confidence that radioactive mine waste would be safely isolated from the environment for the required 10,000 years,” 

The EPA report is now open to public appeal for two weeks. WA’s environment minister is required to review any appeals before finalizing a decision on the project. A federal government decision on the assessment will follow after the WA process is finalised.

Energy Watch: Australia’s First Uranium Mine Project Meets Opponent International Business Times, By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | May 22, 2012 “….The Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA) said it is opposed to the construction of the uranium mine project in Wiluna town in the northern Goldfields on the basis that Toro Energy has yet to provide a safe and reliable track record in uranium mine construction, development and maintenance… Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

New book exposes the myths of the nuclear lobby

Fukushima Tour de Force: New Book Chronicles Nuclear Devil’s Tango HUFFNGTON POST, Jeff Biggers, 22 May 12With Japan now only weeks into its temporarymoratorium on nuclear power  plants, a chillingly prescient chapter in Cecile Pineda’s new tour de force, Devil’s Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step , foretells the lasting impact of a “planetary catastrophe” in the time of powerful energy lobbies…..  “It’s not easy for you, or me, or anyone to pay attention to the consequences of the nuclear energy cycle,” Pineda tells the reader in her foreword. “Why? Because you can’t see radiation.”

Unfolding through a series of beguiling, passionate and often revelatory entries in a daily chronicle, at times with a flair for scintillating satire, Pineda’s masterful framing of the urgency for readers to learn from the Japanese nuclear disaster and the machinations of its industry handlers makes Devil’s Tango one of the most important and required reads this year. She writes:

“You can’t see fallout, you can’t tell when you’re eating strontium by the spoonful. It’s invisible, you can’t see it, feel it, touch it, hear it; you can taste it only in your mouth — when the fallout is particularly dense — as a metallic taste in your mouth, which any number of people reported this past year in places as far apart as Seattle and Arizona. In a world that enshrines surfaces, the industry thinks invisibility is a sure bet you won’t ever find out.”…. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Solar power can only get cheaper – an opportunity for Australia

The breathtaking opportunity that we stand to gain from being able to convert energy from the sun into electricity is that solar power has no fuel price setting a floor on cost. Irrespective of geopolitical tensions and reserve depletion, the cost of solar power can only get cheaper. This view is lost when investment decisions are justified solely on current levelised costs and carbon prices.

Set the controls for the heart of the sun: time for solar courage, The Conversation, Lynette Molyneaux
Researcher at University of Queensland, 21 May 2012  “…..The breathtaking opportunity that we face today is the transformation of global energy use from fossil fuels to renewables; a journey to environmental sustainability. The insoluble problem that we think we face is cost.

So what is the state of the technological transformation required to source our energy from the sun? Photovoltaic (PV) technology (which converts sunlight to electricity using semi-conductors) currently being rolled out in Germany and China originated in Australia but due to a lack of support for development and deployment, those countries
were able to acquire the Intellectual Property (IP) and build industry to deploy the technology. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Clean Energy Finance available to Australian companies first

Australian companies get first shot at green energy cash, David Wroe, Brisbane Times, May 23, 2012 AUSTRALIAN companies will be guaranteed the chance to pitch for business flowing from the Gillard government’s $10 billion clean energy fund that Labor will announce today in an effort to sell the benefits of green jobs at home.

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet will announce today that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which will provide grants and government investment to green projects, will require candidates to show they are
giving local firms a fair go to supply parts and services……

Mr Combet, meanwhile, will introduce today legislation to set up the $10 billion corporation, to be chaired by respected businesswoman Jillian Broadbent. It will require candidates for funding to have Australian Industry Participation Plans, which are a key part of the government’s broader manufacturing strategy.

Under these plans, which are already used by the resources sector in return for tax breaks, projects have to demonstrate they have given Australian firms ”full, fair and reasonable opportunity”. A wind farm, for example, might have to show it has offered Australian firms the chance to supply the turbine towers.

May 23, 2012 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Australian Conservation Foundation wants the CEFC to be made more effective

 to be truly effective the Clean Energy Finance Corporation should not be constrained by the existing 20 per cent renewable energy target (RET), the ACF says.

 the ACF says the scheme, perversely, limits large-scale clean energy investment to that 20 per cent level. It wants the government to replace RET certificates generated under CEFC projects so they’re essentially not counted towards the overall target.

Corporation to invest $10B in clean energy, 9 news 23 May 12   The federal government will introduce legislation on Wednesday to establish its $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC). The corporation, part of the government’s carbon price package, will support renewable energy projects through loans, guarantees and equity
investments. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

A South African example of how Australia could develop renewable energy

The contrast with the Australian situation could not be any more stark. While Australia has a mandated renewable energy target, large scale developments have been at a standstill for much of the last few years. And on emerging technologies such as solar, little has happened. It is interesting to note that two of the most progressive international solar companies, Abengoa and Acciona from Spain, will be building their latest technologies in South Africa.

Under different circumstances, that development might have occurred in Australia.

South Africa shows Australia how to do green energy By Giles Parkinson   22 May 2012 South Africa is pushing forward with its ambitious renewable energy rollout, announcing overnight it has awarded contracts for another $3.4 billion of renewable energy developments, with 19 wind, solar and hydropower projects totaling 1,043MW getting the nod.

South Africa has much in common with Australia. It relies heavily on coal for its electricity (85 per cent) and has a similar sized grid (41GW). But it has chosen to kick-start its target of sourcing at least 30 per cent of its electricity requirement from renewables by 2030 with a series of competitive tenders that will allocate contracts for a total of 3,725MW of capacity. It reasons that once this is built, the rest of the 17,000MW of renewable energy required to meet
the target will flow. Continue reading

May 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia’s clean, non nuclear, soil giving hope to Japanese farmers

Japan farmer harvests hope in our soil, BY: SUE NEALES The Australian May 23, 2012   JAPANESE farmer Takemi Shirado still sounds grief-stricken and shell-shocked when talking about last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster that so devastated his rural community.

Catastrophic radiation contamination of the soil means his family won’t be able to sow rice on their Iwaki rice paddies, about 60km from the crippled defunct power plant, for at least 300 years. Other local farmers are starting to grow leafy vegetables on less-contaminated fields, but are finding consumers too scared to buy their risky produce.

But Mr Shirado is clearly not a man to moan and mope. Instead he has come to Australia as head of a consortium of Fukushima farmers to see if north Queensland’s fertile Burdekin valley might hold the solution to his prefecture’s long-term fallout-affected food problems.

Mr Shirado’s dream now is to turn the sugarcane fields around Ayr into fertile flooded rice paddies growing Japanese rice varieties in traditional organic ways, to supply the people of his ruined home prefecture once again with their staple food…… “So far this looks like being a very good area for growing rice; I think we can grow four crops a year here and the water is very pure too.”……

May 23, 2012 Posted by | environment, Queensland | Leave a comment