Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

All is not well with Australia’s uranium industry

for all the hype, uranium accounts for a lousy 0.3% of Australian export revenue and a negligible 0.02% 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. 

The uranium price tanked after the Fukushima disaster and so far there is no sign of a bounce.

Australian uranium industry in trouble after Fukushima, June 2, 2012,Green Left, By Jim Green A protest walk from Wiluna to Perth took place last year against the proposed Wiluna uranium mine.

These are 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 0.3% of Australian export revenue and a negligible 0.02% 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. If there is any growth at all in the next 20 years, it will be modest.

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.

In South Australia, BHP Billiton’s plan for a massive expansion of the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine has yet to be approved by the company board, with recent rumblings that the project may be put on the slow-track.

Japanese company Mitsui recently pulled out of the Honeymoon uranium mine because it “could not foresee sufficient economic return from the project”. Marathon Resources’ plan to mine uranium has been terminated by a South Australian government decision to protect the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary  — a decision made all the easier by the company’s licence breaches during exploration.

The industry also has problems in the Northern Territory. A traditional owner veto has put an end to plans to mine Koongarra , and plans are in train to incorporate the mining lease into Kakadu National Park.

Energy Resources of Australia has abandoned plans to use heap leach mining at the Ranger mine, though an exploratory drilling program has recently started. Water management problems continue to plague the mining and milling of uranium at Ranger.

At various times in recent years, both the NT Country Liberal Party and the Labor Party have opposed plans to build a mine at Angela Pamela, a short distance from Alice Springs and an even shorter distance from the town’s water supply.

In Queensland, the new Liberal National Party government has so far stuck to its pre-election promise to prohibit uranium mining. That may change, but in any case Queensland is home to only about 3% of Australia’s uranium reserves. The NSW Liberal Party government has recently passed legislation to permit uranium exploration, but exploration in earlier decades yielded little of interest.

Western Australia is now the key uranium battleground. ….. http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/51224

June 16, 2012 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium

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