Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Energy Resources of Australia’s chairman, two directors, say they’ll resign after pressure from Rio Tinto and traditional owners

 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-03/nt-rio-tinto-calls-for-era-chairman-to-resign/101497342?utm_campaign=abc_news_web&utm_content=link&utm_medium=content_shared&utm_source=abc_news_web&fbclid=IwAR3v3JbtHkVxHubJeOaWROwz0GqlpR_9Lhmx_RkoCpSr2oBelxPKoBddv34 By Daniel Fitzgerald,

The chairman and two directors of a company responsible for cleaning up a massive uranium mine on the edge of Kakadu have announced their intention to resign, following pressure from its major shareholder, Rio Tinto, and criticism from traditional owners.

Key points:

  • Energy Resources of Australia is responsible for the clean-up of Ranger uranium mine, on the edge of Kakadu
  • Its chairman and two directors have announced their intention to resign, after pressure from Rio Tinto 
  • It comes after a commissioned report suggested the company could consider developing a second uranium mine in the region

Rio Tinto on Monday publicly called for Energy Resources of Australia’s (ERA) chairman Peter Mansell to resign, four days after an independent report commissioned by the company suggested it could consider developing a second uranium mine next to Kakadu National Park.

Mirarr traditional owners have long objected to the potential mining of the ERA-owned Jabiluka uranium deposit β€” a position which Rio Tinto supports β€” and fiercely rejected the suggestion they might allow it to be mined.

Mr Mansell and two other directors not affiliated with Rio Tinto this afternoon said they would resign, “once a clear funding solution” for the cash-strapped company is arrived at.

In a statement to the ASX, ERA said the three board members would resign, “noting the requests from Rio Tinto” for Mr Mansell to consider his position.

Mine clean-up could cost $1.2 billion more than expected

ERA said the directors notified Rio Tinto of their intention to resign last week, before Rio Tinto’s public announcement.

Earlier this year, ERA estimated rehabilitation works could cost up to $1.2 billion more than expected and take workers until 2028 to complete the job β€” two years longer than initially planned.

Rio Tinto chief executive Australia, Kellie Parker said the company was committed to the rehabilitation of the Ranger mine “in a way that is consistent with the wishes of the Mirarr people”.

“However, given our recent dealings with the Independent Board Committee [IBC] and last week’s release of the Grant Thornton valuation report, we do not believe that can be achieved without renewal within ERA’s board,” Ms Parker said.

“There remains a strong difference of opinion between Rio Tinto and the IBC on the terms of rehabilitation funding, with the IBC’s view that successful rehabilitation could underpin potential future growth opportunities, despite the Mirarr people’s long-held opposition to further uranium mining on their country.”

Justin O’Brien, the chief executive of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirarr people, said the Commonwealth may need to step in to ensure the safe clean-up of Ranger.

“We are extremely concerned that the Commonwealth is relying on a company that has publicly announced it does not have the funds to complete the rehabilitation work,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This public stoush over whether or not ‘magical’ uranium deposits in a World Heritage listed wetland and indigenous cultural landscape should be mined is a question of national public policy.”

On June 30, ERA had $132 million cash in hand and $537 million held by the Commonwealth government in a trust fund for the Ranger rehabilitation.

Rio Tinto said while a funding solution for the rehabilitation was being agreed, the company was “progressing discussions to amend an existing $100 million credit facility to assist ERA with its management of immediate liquidity issues”.

An ERA report released in August said cost overruns on the Ranger rehabilitation “have been caused by a number of factors including complexities in technical risk management, project delays and additional scope matters involving unbudgeted costs”.

Legislation was introduced to Federal parliament last month to grant ERA an extension to its rehabilitation schedule.

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October 3, 2022 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium, wastes

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