Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

NEW KAKADU URANIUM MINE CONTESTED – RIO MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR RANGER REHAB

The writing is on the wall for Rio – post-Fukushima the uranium commodity price is at an historic low, the global market outlook shows no signs of recovery and the company continue to lose millions at Ranger mine every year. NT and Commonwealth regulators need to use the Ranger 3 Deeps EIA process to take a sobering look at the mine’s struggling financial position, it’s poor worker safety, nuclear security and environmental record and use this opportunity to close the door on this costly and contaminating trade for good.”

7 Oct 14 The Environment Centre has vowed to contest any new uranium mining in Kakadu National Park and called on Rio Tinto to commit to a comprehensive closure and rehabilitation plan for Ranger uranium mine. The call coincided with an international day of action on October 7th with trade unions, communities and Indigenous groups protesting to highlight the health, environment and social impacts of Rio Tinto’s multinational mining operations.

Ranger-3

Rio Tinto and subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia are currently seeking an approval to develop a new underground uranium deposit, Ranger 3 Deeps, despite recent claims that the company is unwilling to take responsibility for the $600 million plus clean-up costs from its open pit operation.

Rio’s Chief Executive Sam Walsh has repeatedly refused to take responsibility for rehabilitation, most recently at the company’s Melbourne AGM, suggesting instead that its subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia, 68% owned by Rio should bear sole responsibility despite its weak financial position.

Lauren Mellor from the Environment Centre NT said “We are supporting the international call today to hold Rio Tinto to account for its appalling track record on environmental, social and industrial safety issues. Here in the NT Rio’s Ranger uranium mine has recorded over 200 license and security breaches, spills, and accidents in its 30 year history. In December 2013 a uranium leach tank collapsed on site due to ageing infrastructure and inadequate monitoring. Key investigation reports into the incident remain secret and the company has yet to be charged under the NT Mine Management Act or the National Work Health Safety Act. Rio doesn’t deserve another chance to put Kakadu at radioactive risk and any new proposal for uranium mining will be hotly contested throughout the Environmental Impact Assessment phase.”

“Rio is positioning itself to blackmail NT and Federal regulators into approval for a new mine, suggesting that without Ranger 3 Deeps it will be unable to afford rehabilitation. But Rio’s reckless disregard for workers safety and the environment shouldn’t be rewarded with approval for a new mine. The company has lost over $500 million in recent years due to a combination of low commodity price, reduced international markets, and ageing and failing infrastructure on site. With a host of recent mine closures in the NT creating expensive environmental and economic legacy mine headaches for the NT government it’s time regulators act urgently towards securing costs from Rio for an accelerated closure and rehabilitation to ensure that costs are not shifted to the public.”

“Rio are legally required to manage and isolate radioactive tailings on site for a period of 10,000 years. They have a long-term responsibility to ensure that the dirty, contaminating mineral they mine cannot contaminate Australia’s largest national park and local communities who rely on clean water downstream of the mine. Rio are proven bad tenants who have been trashing their lease within Kakadu’s boundaries with no intention to pay for clean up.”

“The writing is on the wall for Rio – post-Fukushima the uranium commodity price is at an historic low, the global market outlook shows no signs of recovery and the company continue to lose millions at Ranger mine every year. NT and Commonwealth regulators need to use the Ranger 3 Deeps EIA process to take a sobering look at the mine’s struggling financial position, it’s poor worker safety, nuclear security and environmental record and use this opportunity to close the door on this costly and contaminating trade for good.”

Contact: Lauren Mellor, Nuclear Free NT Campaigner on 0413 534 125

More details on the global day of action against Rio Tinto here: http://www.industriall-union.org/unions-at-rio-tinto-gear-up-for-global-day-of-action

October 8, 2014 - Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, wastes

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