Australian news, and some related international items

Uranium: the mineral that never made sense now doesn’t even make dollars

Uranium: the mineral that never made sense now doesn’t even make dollars, 20 Oct 20,  News that BHP, the world’s biggest mining company, will not continue with the long planned multi-billion dollar expansion of its Olympic Dam uranium and copper project shows the clock is ticking on uranium, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

The planned expansion of the mine in northern South Australia enjoyed strong state and federal government support and was on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent list of major projects to be fast-tracked.

“This move is further evidence of the deep market malaise surrounding uranium operations,” said Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“Today’s announcement shows that political access, spin and favours cannot change the realities of an ore body or the global commodity market.

“BHP has made a basic, hard-headed business decision not to proceed with this project.

“The global uranium price has been hammered since the Fukushima nuclear disaster and it is unlikely to improve. The sector has scant social license and is increasingly embattled.

“Today’s decision by BHP, coupled with Rio Tinto’s exit from operations at the Ranger mine in Kakadu, shows the clock is ticking on uranium, the asbestos of the 21st Century.

“South Australia’s energy, employment and economic options should not be tied to a continued dependence on high impact, low certainty resource projects.

“South Australia is well placed to lead the nation in renewable energy tools, technology and thinking.

“This decision may be the pivot needed to shift to a secure, sustainable contemporary economy.”

For context or comment contact Dave Sweeney on 0408 317 812

October 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

BHP dumps its plan to expand Olympic Dam uranium mine

BHP shelves $3.7bn expansion plan for Olympic Dam mine in SA for a second time
BHP has shelved a plan to spend $3.7 billion expanding the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine – just months after the colossal project was put on a Federal Government fast-track.    Cameron England, Business Editor, The Advertiser, 19 Oct 20, 

BHP’s $3.7 billion expansion plans for the Olympic Dam mine have been abandoned.

The company had been looking at a Brownfields Expansion Project (BFX) which would have increased production from the current capacity of 200,000 tonnes of copper per year to as much as 300,000.

The project was one of a number of big ticket items earmarked for streamlined approval processes by the Federal Government in June in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has major project status from the State Government……….

It is the second time BHP has scrapped plans for Olympic Dam. In August 2012, the company announced it had shelved its $30 billion expansion and would go back to the drawing board to find a cheaper alternative. Market conditions, subdued commodity prices and higher capital costs led to the decision eight years ago………

 in its quarterly review released this morning, BHP said following more than 400km of underground drilling, which improved the knowledge of the ore body, it had decided to focus on incremental improvements, rather than a step change investment at the site.

“Following more than 400 km of underground drilling associated with the Brownfield Expansion (BFX) project studies, we have improved knowledge of the ore body’s variability,’’ the company said.

“This has provided challenges for the economics of the BFX project, and we have decided the optimal way forward for now is through targeted debottlenecking investments, plant upgrades and modernisation of our infrastructure.’………

BHP said Olympic Dam was performing well, and had posted its best quarterly performance in the past five years in the three months to the end of September.

“Over the next two years, our focus will remain on completing our asset integrity program to underpin more stable operations and copper production of more than 200 ktpa. We have a significant investment program in place to achieve that,’’ Mr Basto said.

“We will continue to study longer-term options for growth. Our enhanced understanding of the underground resources in the Southern Mine Area, promising results from Oak Dam and stronger foundations will help us unlock the full potential of Olympic Dam……..

In August, BHP announced Olympic Dam had made a full year loss before interest and tax of $US79 million, on revenues of $US1.463 billion. That was up from a loss the previous financial year of $US58 million on revenues of $1.351 billion.

October 20, 2020 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

New government Bill could target journalists, environmental and human rights groups

October 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media | Leave a comment

Why Nuclear Power Is Unsustainable

Dragon Trailz (accessed) 18th Oct 2020, Why Nuclear Power Is Unsustainable. I’ve collated some resources here outlining why nuclear power is neither safe, sustainable, nor low carbon.
Of late, forceful lobbying from the nuclear industry has attempted to frame nuclear power as a solution for our future energy provision needs. The evidence suggests otherwise. New nuclear power is the most expensive form of electricity generation, with long lead times and many modern reactor builds running well over budget.
There has also been a major push to try and insert nuclear energy into the ‘Net Zero’ discourse, an increasingly confusing and corporatised conversation. These resources should help to debunk narratives that are pushed through mainstream media and by politicians who are still stuck in Cold War era thinking.

October 20, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Scientific women get together in plan for marine protected area for Antarctica Peninsula

October 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, women | Leave a comment

China’s nuclear oppression of the Uighur people

Nuclear imperialism in China’s Xinjiang, Observer Research Foundation,TARA RAO,  19 Oct 20, 

A third of the PRCs uranium for nuclear energy comes from extortion in the Yili basin of Xinjiang. This is also home to a great population of Uighurs.

Today, China has one of the world’s largest nuclear energy development programmes. During the Cold War era, there did not exist a political or economic motivator for commercialising nuclear energy as coal-fired power stations and hydroelectric energy dominated the system. However, after 2005, China has been able to reinvent this narrative. Notably, what this resurrected was a reassertion of spaces of injustice for their minorities. Their lands were first grounds for nuclear weapons’ testing and now used for energy rather than warfare purposes, thus continuing a historical subjugation to nuclear imperialism. This nuclear imperialism situates itself within an already prevalent cyclic violence against China’s far western frontier region of Xinjiang’s ethnic minorities, the predominantly Muslim Uighurs, ever since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Continue reading

October 20, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Solar power really can provide cheap electricity

Nuclear power never delivered on its promise, but will solar?  John Quiggin, Canberra Times, 19 Oct 20, 

The International Energy Agency attracted attention recently when executive director Fatih Birol declared that solar would be “the new king of electricity markets.” Long known for its conservative view of renewables, the IEA’s latest Global Energy Review marked a radical change. Instead of growing slowly over time, solar (along with wind and other renewables) is now seen as meeting all new electricity demand, with coal set for a sharp decline. …….

Solar modules cost virtually nothing to operate, and last a long time. Manufacturers’ warranties typically run for 25 years, guaranteeing at least 80 per cent performance. Experience and experimental evidence suggest this is conservative: even after thirty years, modules installed today should still be working at around 85 per cent of their initial capacity. A working lifetime of twenty-five years is therefore conservative…………
Once a solar module has been installed, a zero rate of interest means that the electricity it generates is virtually free. Spread over the lifetime of the module, the cost is around 2c/kwh (assuming $1/watt cost, 2000 operating hours per year and a 25-year lifetime). That cost would be indexed to the rate of inflation, but would probably never exceed 3c/kwh. There is, then, a real possibility that solar PV and other renewable technologies could fulfil the promise made decades ago by the promoters of nuclear power: that it will deliver electricity “too cheap to meter”. (Even with access to cheap capital, nuclear power never delivered on that promise.)

The prospect of electricity this cheap might seem counter-intuitive to anyone whose model of investment analysis is based on concepts like “present value” and payback periods. But in the world of zero real interest rates that now appears to be upon us, such concepts are no longer relevant. Governments can, and should, invest in projects whenever the total benefits exceed the costs, regardless of how those benefits are spread over time.

October 20, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Twin peaks: South Australia reaches 100 pct solar, and then 100 pct wind power in same week — RenewEconomy

A big week for South Australia as solar delivers 100 per cent of its demand one day – the first time ever in any large grid – and wind does the same thing a few days later. The post Twin peaks: South Australia reaches 100 pct solar, and then 100 pct wind power in same…

Twin peaks: South Australia reaches 100 pct solar, and then 100 pct wind power in same week — RenewEconomy

October 20, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

October 19 Energy News — geoharvey

Opinion: ¶ “Why The US Election Could Decide Battle Against Climate Change” • Scientists studying climate change say that the re-election of Donald Trump could make it “impossible” to keep global temperatures in check. They’re worried another four years of Trump would “lock in” the use of fossil fuels in the US for decades to come. [BBC] […]

October 19 Energy News — geoharvey

October 20, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment