Australian news, and some related international items

Dr Timothy Stone should not be a Royal Commissioner: has financial interest in a nuclear company

scrutiny-Royal-Commission CHAINDr Timothy Stone should be in the same position as any other business or ordinary individual: free to put his opinions to the Royal Commission through the submissions process, but not be a member of the Commission in any form.

Dr Timothy Stone Visiting Professor, International Energy Policy Institute, University College London Adelaide

Current potentially relevant activities:

  • Non-executive Director, Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd (UK)
  • Visiting Professorship, International Energy Policy Institute, University College London (Adelaide)
  • Chairman, Advisory Board of DBD Ltd (UK, nuclear engineering)

June 24, 2015 Posted by | NUCLEAR ROYAL COMMISSION 2016 | Leave a comment

The game is up for uranium miners ERA and Paladin

After 10 years of no profit, and millions in shareholder value destroyed, very few have profited from Paladin’s ongoing existence. ERA, on the other hand, was profitable up until 2010, but has gone backwards since. Neither trend is unlikely to change in the future.

thumbs-downWhat’s next for Australia’s uranium miners?  Motley Fool, 24 June 15 Energy Resources of Australia Limited (ASX: ERA) and Paladin Energy Limited (ASX: PDN)are two of Australia’s largest independent uranium producers, but have they lived out their useful half-lives?

Some might suggest yes, following the recent news stories surrounding ERA, which is majority owned (68%) by Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO).

You may have already seen some of the news surrounding one of Australia’s largest uranium miners, ERA, when its shares plunged 47% in early trading two weeks ago. That reaction was due to the company’s decision to cancel its Ranger 3 Deeps project thanks to continued low uranium prices, and ongoing uncertainty over the uranium market’s direction in the immediate future.

ERA owned and operated the Ranger mine, which is surrounded by the Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory. But the decision to not proceed with the Ranger 3 Deeps project means the mine holds very little value for ERA, Rio or anyone else wanting to mine uranium. Without Ranger 3 Deeps, ERA is processing stockpiled ore. What the company will do when that runs out is anybody’s guess. Continue reading

June 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

The end of big uranium mining projects in Australia

burial.uranium-industryMining exploration slump makes a new Olympic Dam unlikely, The Age, June 24, 2015  Reporter One of the key geologists involved in the discovery of BHP Billiton’s highly-regarded Olympic Dam mine says the industry’s search for another deposit of a similar scale has all but ceased as major miners reject greenfield exploration and juniors struggle to secure financing.

Douglas Haynes was one of a small fleet of young geologists working in the 1970s for Western Mining Corporation, whose innovative approach to copper exploration aided in the discovery of one of the world’s largest economic mineral deposits.

Mr Haynes told The Australian Financial Review on the sidelines of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies Convention the sustained lull in exploration activity suggested “there is no more exploration for Olympic Dams in Australia”.

“There are two things happening,” he said. “The idea of finding an ore body at 300 metres depth puts a lot of small companies off because of the starvation of capital for entrepreneurial types doing this kind of thing.” He added major miners such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were unlikely to “indulge” in large exploration programs……….

June 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Energy Resources of Australia – half of uranium company’s Board quits

Half of Australian uranium miner’s board quits after Rio shelves project SYDNEY, JUNE 22 Half of the board at uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia resigned on Monday, saying majority owner Rio Tinto’s decision to abandon work on a major mine expansion made it difficult for the company to pursue its goals.

ERA’s stock has plunged more than 70 percent since it said on June 12 that it would not proceed with the final development study for its Ranger 3 Deeps uranium project in northern Australia due to low uranium prices.

Uranium prices have tumbled since the March 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant. Japan has idled its entire industry in response, exacerbating a worldwide supply glut.

Three ERA directors, including Chairman Peter McMahon, resigned, leaving the board with just three members, the company said in statement. ERA, a separately listed division in which Rio Tinto holds a 68.4 percent stake, said a search for replacement directors had been approved.

Rio has said it may have to book a $300 million charge relating to its stake in ERA after the Ranger 3 project was shelved. (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

June 24, 2015 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Trans Pacific Partnership – a killer deal for democracy

logo-anti-TPPThe Trans-Pacific Partnership is a terrible deal, Liberal Gene, 22 June 15   “……..Now we have the TPP, which is less about trade than subordinating democratic governments and their laws to the interests of big business profits. That is part of the neoliberal agenda.

TPP negotiations are in secret and led by Michael Froman, a protege of Robert Rubin. Froman followed Rubin to Citigroup before returning to government. As a graduate of Citigroup management he is in good company with the corporate representatives, who participate in the negotiations.
The TPP is doubling down on the provision called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), by strengthening existing ISDS procedures intended to protect investors. According to “The Economist,” The ISDS will, “give foreign firms a special right to apply to a secretive tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers for compensation whenever a government passes a law to, say, discourage smoking, protect the environment or prevent a nuclear catastrophe.”
Claims of billions of dollars, either settled or in arbitration, include Occidental Oil Company against Ecuador over a contract termination, a Swedish utility operator against Germany for shutting down nuclear plants, Phillip Morris against Australia and Uruguay over anti-smoking messages. In 2011, 2012, and  2013 there were over 50 ISDS dispute settlement cases.
Other cases involve the fossil fuel industry going after Quebec for a ban on fracking, and a large French company contesting minimum wage increases in Egypt.
On the financial front, “Public Citizen” has reported that TPP would forbid countries from banning risky toxic derivatives. Also, it would prohibit policies to deal with “too-big-to-fail” banks and banks that would speculate with our savings. In addition, TPP would prohibit the proposed “Robin Hood” taxes on Wall Street speculation.
The neoliberal dogma extolls the free market on the one hand, and demands guaranteed profits on the other. How’s that supposed to work?
The TPP is a terrible deal. To demand that we submit our democratically formed laws and procedures for review by some secret, supranational authority is an assault on Democracy and the prosperity of Main Street.

June 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wind farm research: Tony Abbott’s strategy to delay development by creating uncertainty

You don’t need to remove a policy to kill investment. You only need to make things uncertain

wind-farm-evil-1More research is good, but not if wind experts are told what to find, The Conversation,  , 24 June 15  “………..Research on this topic doesn’t exist in a political or economic vacuum. It is well established that renewable energy broadly, and wind turbines in particular, are matters of significant political debate.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week asserted that his intention when renegotiating the Renewable Energy Target was to “reduce the number of these things (wind turbines) that we are going to get in the future”, while his government is also considering appointing a “wind commissioner” to address complaints about the industry.

Meanwhile, key members of the Senate Committee – including John MadiganDavid LeyonhjelmBob DayChris Back, and Matthew Canavan – have used their positions to speak stridently against wind energy. Against this backdrop, is it really possible to pause the world to undertake entirely neutral research?

Telling researchers how to research

There are allegations that suggest the Senate Committee is less interested in truly independent, high-quality research than its members might claim, and is instead recommending to the NHMRC the researchers whose work they would like to see included in future assessments……..

we’ve had inquiry after inquiry into this topic – with no rigorous scientific process finding any evidence of a human health impact – Continue reading

June 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, wind | Leave a comment

Australia’s Senate passes law to water down the Renewable Energy Target (RET)

Revised Renewable Energy Target Legislation Passes June 24, 2015 Legislation for a watered-down Renewable Energy Target (RET) was passed last night, ending nearly one and a half years of uncertainty for the Australian renewables sector.

The RET has now been officially slashed from 41,000 GWh to 33,000 GWh by 2020.

However, Australia’s Clean Energy Council says major renewable projects would now pick up pace; leading to $40 billion of investment and the creation of 15,200 jobs over the life of the RET, while helping to protect 20,000 current positions.

“While this has been a challenging process, and we are disappointed by the level of reduction of the target for large-scale renewable energy, the passage of this legislation provides the platform for a doubling of renewables over the next five years,” said Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton.

“The legislation also removes the two-yearly reviews of the scheme and ensures no changes to the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, which is great news for thousands of people working in the rooftop solar and solar hot water sectors.”  Continue reading

June 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, politics | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott – dangerously wrong about energy policy

The BNEF report – see details on it here – predicts that households and business will account for more than half of Australia’s demand by 2040, and is the latest, and most comprehensive, of a series of reports that highlight the rapidly shifting sands of the global energy market, and the move from centralised generation to a decentralised future.

This has been canvassed by the likes of the CSIRO, the International Energy Agency, the biggest utilites, and global investment banks.UBS last month came up with a report stating that a scenario where 50 per cent of all electricity generation was provided by solar by 2050 could not be ruled out. Much of this would be behind the meter, on the rooftops of homes and businesses.

Morgan Stanley has predicted 2.4 million homes in Australia will have battery storage. 


Parkinson-Report-Tony Abbott in denial about Australia’s energy Abbott smilesfuture  By  on 23 June 2015 There was a brief exchange on the ABC TV’s Q&A program on Monday night that neatly summed up all that is wrong with Australia’s energy policy.

Grahame Morris – a former chief of staff to Coalition prime minister John Howard, and a corporate lobbyist who is influential in the government of Tony Abbott – had, in the words of host Tony Jones, steam coming out of his ears at the idea that wind and solar could offer a future energy solution. Flapping his arms about and pointing his finger, Morris exclaimed: “Look, not everyone wants a bloody big windmill in their backyard … nuclear power is clean … one of the problems with the third world with poverty is that they don’t have electricity. We have coal and we have uranium that can provide energy sources for those people. You are talking about poverty  … that is the answer.”

Morris also scoffed at the idea of  climate change and, with that, pretty much summed up the policy position of the Abbott government, its principal advisors, and the conservative think tanks that influence and applaud it.

It is a discourse – the belief in the primacy of centralised generation, be it coal or nuclear – that is guiding the Abbott government’s climate, energy and industrial policy. Disconcertingly, it is a view that spreads to the Labor Party, too, judging by the response of Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon, from the Hunter Valley.

It’s also parroting the key marketing point of Big Coal: one that ridicules or downplays climate science, talks down the need to act, and places its faith in ageing technologies. The push against wind farms is a symptom of the view that nothing can or should change, and green policy can’t be allowed to be right about anything.

But it is plain wrong, and dangerously so. Continue reading

June 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Fight back against government plans to shut down remote Aboriginal communities

The racist and neo-liberal mindset that drives the present and previous governments’ policies on land rights and remote, self managed communities does not recognise any culture or society that may be based on community or collective principles, or practises ecological land management, developed for this environment over tens of thousands years.

The UN State of the Indigenous Peoples Report (2009) observed that free-market economies have devastated Indigenous peoples worldwide……What is going on with the forced closure of Indigenous communities and the driving of Aboriginal people from their traditional lands has all the hallmarks of a land grab – rolling back the hard won recognition of land rights and native title in Australia.

Australia’s First Nations peoples and their supporters are coming together in unprecedented numbers to fight back against community closures and policies that foster cultural genocide and disempowerment.

Racist land grab  Stand against forced closures of Aboriginal communities! The Guardian Len Waster, 24 June 15  The Abbott Liberal-National government wants to shut down 150 Indigenous communities in remote Australia. Its actions threaten to leave some of Australia’s most vulnerable people without water, electricity or basic services. The remote or homeland communities that are under threat allow Aboriginal people to live on their traditional country, where they can sustain their language, their spiritual connection to land and their culture.

They are among the more than 1,200 small, discrete Indigenous communities in regional and remote Australia, which present policies place under threat of eventual closure and forced eviction.

As long as there are adequate services people experience better health and wellbeing in their homeland communities than when living in larger townships, where social dysfunction and disadvantage are often prevalent. Continue reading

June 24, 2015 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Wind farm set to be developed on Tasmanian cattle farm

Granville wind farm project awaits Senate vote, 23 June 15 HELEN KEMPTON Mercury THE 1900 cattle grazing on Tasmania’s most isolated farm will soon share the land with up to 33 wind turbines if Australia’s Renewable Energy Target is passed in the Senate tomorrow.

West Coast Wind plans to start construction of its wind farm on Royce Smith’s 1255ha beef property at Granville Harbour, outside Zeehan, at the end of the year. Already, a wind monitoring station is recording bankable energy data as investors in the $200 million project are secured. At 80m tall, the wind monitoring tower is as high as the turbines will be.

June 24, 2015 Posted by | Tasmania, wind | Leave a comment

Renewable energy will dominate Australia’s electricity in 25 years

Australia’s electricity ‘to be dominated by renewables’ in 25 years, : June 23, 2015 Renewable energy in Australia will outrun conventional means such as fossil fuels by 2040, accounting for 59 percent of electricity generation, according to energy analysts.

Rooftop solar systems are expected to squeeze out retiring coal and gas plants, the Guardian reports, referring to New Energy Outlook 2015, published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

However, analysts say that Australia’s carbon emissions from electricity are unlikely to fall significantly for at least two decades and will reduce only 9 percent by 2030 compared with 2014. Pollution will remain “stubbornly high” if the government doesn’t accelerate the closure of coal and gas plants.

It will be cheaper to replace retired electricity plants with wind or solar farms rather than with modernized coal plants even without the government’s participation, Kobad Bhavnagri, the head of Australia’s Bloomberg New Energy Finance, told the Guardian.

The Australian coal industry is currently focused on export and it has been “quite some time” since a new coal power station was built in Australia, he said………

If Australia places restrictions on fossil-fuels, it would be able to achieve 100 percent of renewable energy usage by 2040, Andrew Blakers, the director of the center for sustainable energy systems (CSES) at the Australian National University told the Guardian.

Moreover, the country would be able to achieve greenhouse neutrality a decade later if it switched to electric transport, including cars, trams and trains, he added.

“And it would be in everybody’s medium- and long-term interests to do so,” he said.

June 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Australia at ‘the back of the pack’ in renewable energy progress

In Australia, while the RET changes will reduce the growth of renewables from the previously legislated target, the scheme will still produce a dramatic lift in the amount of renewable energy in the system.

Paths to renewable energy efficiency THE AUSTRALIAN SID MAHER, JUNE 24, 2015 As Australia moves to rein in the growth of renewable energy in its electricity generation mix, Germany, Europe’s most powerful economy, is doing the opposite.

Germany is doubling down on its bet that solar, wind and hydro-electricity will become cheaper as more is produced, underpin its future as an economic powerhouse, and allow it to take on China in industrial production………..

Climate Institute chief executive John Connor says it is important for Australians to understand Australia is the only country scaling back on renewables and on carbon abatement markets.

“We are at the back of the pack when it comes to the carbon intensity of advanced economies,” he says. “It is walking backwards when others are striding forward.’’ Continue reading

June 24, 2015 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment