Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Internal briefing reveals Northern Territory government approach to defence regarding AUKUS nuclear submarines

ABC By Jacqueline Breen 8 Nov 22

The Northern Territory government quietly approached the defence department seeking to discuss Australia’s nuclear submarine program, according to internal briefing documents.

Key points:

  • Defence says it initiated talks with ‘priority’ states, while the NT approached the department for talks
  • The NT government says a review of the Top End’s ‘suitability and readiness’ is underway
  • A government advisor says nuclear submarines from the AUKUS partners could rotate through Darwin

Amid rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, Australia last year announced plans to build a fleet of nuclear submarines as part of the AUKUS defence pact with the United States and United Kingdom.

The NT’s interest in the nuclear submarines has been revealed in a defence department briefing given to the incoming Albanese government after the May election.

The briefing was released under Freedom of Information laws in September, but the NT’s approach to the department’s Nuclear-Powered Submarines Taskforce has not been previously reported.

Large parts of the undated brief were redacted but a short section on “stakeholder engagement” was published in full…………………………………

The ABC asked what the NT government had sought to discuss with the taskforce, including whether it included the prospect of hosting the nuclear submarines in Darwin harbour.

A spokesperson for Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said: “The NT government is undertaking a review to assess the Territory’s suitability and readiness to support the Federal Government.”………………….

Defence hints at ‘services and support’ that might be needed in Darwin harbour

Visiting Australian and international submarines are seen periodically in Darwin harbour.

But it is generally considered an unfavourable training ground or deployment point because of the long stretches of shallow waters stretching out from the coast.

A shortlist of three potential locations for a new base for the nuclear submarines — all of them on the east coast — was announced in the lead up to the federal election…………………………

US and UK nuclear subs should rotate through Darwin, advisor says

Last week, Four Corners revealed plans for the deployment of up to six nuclear-capable American B-52 bombers in the Top End, as part of an ongoing expansion of military activity in Australia’s north.

Following the report, deputy chief minister Nicole Manison was asked whether the deployment would put the NT at greater risk from potential adversaries………..

Defence and national security are among the key “growth” sectors the NT government hopes will drive its ambitious push to achieve a $40 billion economy by 2030.

To help maximise defence investment in the Top End, Labor created the Canberra-based position of Defence and National Security Advocate to lobby government and industry on the NT’s behalf.

The current advocate, defence analyst Alan Dupont, declined an interview request.

But he has previously argued for an NT role in the transition to nuclear boats, which may not be ready before Australia’s current conventional fleet needs replacing.

“The navy’s nuclear-powered submarines are unlikely to be in the water much before 2040,” he wrote after the AUKUS deal was announced.

“Having our submariners train and operate as joint crews on American and British nuclear submarines rotating through Darwin and Perth would help fill the looming submarine capability gap.” https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-08/nt-govt-seeking-involvement-aukus-nuclear-submarine-program/101585724

November 10, 2022 Posted by | Northern Territory, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Energy Resources of Australia’s investor Willy Packer completely wrong on Jabiluka uranium

   https://gac-v3.katalyst.com.au/news_items/era-minorities-completely-wrong-on-jabilukaKirsten Blair, 10 Oct 122, The Mirarr Traditional Owners of the Ranger Uranium Mine totally reject the commentary of Energy Resources of Australia minor investor Willy Packer as completely wrong. Like ERA’s former Independent Board Committee, Mr Packer mistakenly considers the question of Jabiluka’s development as simply being about Traditional Owner consent.

Representing the Mirarr, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) seeks to bring clarity to the debate, including correcting misunderstandings about the contemporary significance of cultural heritage, insurmountable environmental and technical challenges at the site and the true costs of mining in the Kakadu region.

“It is simply wrong to say that anyone can just change their mind about Jabiluka in the future. This place is unique, Kakadu is World Heritage listed because of its value to the whole world. This isn’t about Traditional Owners agreeing to mining, they are defending heritage that matters to all of us. It is also wrong to ignore the fact that mining at Ranger produced a two-billion dollar clean-up bill. This is not just something interesting for valuers to toss around. What Packer wants is offensive to the majority of Australians,” CEO of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation Justin O’Brien said.

“It’s also wrong to ignore the scale of the rehabilitation. The task is massive. ERA must rehabilitate Ranger to a standard such that it may be incorporated into the surrounding national park. The company is obliged, among other requirements, to physically separate tailings from the environment for 10,000 years.

“Further mining in Kakadu National Park would be insane,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr Packer has raised the prospect of the compensation of ERA’s minority shareholders. “Mr Packer is asking to be compensated for his wager on an impossible project. It’s nonsensical and contrary to standard business risk. This is why investors shouldn’t and don’t run mining companies.

“We are living in the 21st century; iconic cultural heritage of international significance is not up for negotiation. Our hearts go out to the Traditional Owners at Juukan Gorge. Their loss has focused the nation and indeed the international investment community on supporting Traditional Owners and protecting cultural heritage. Everyone wants to ensure Kakadu National Park is protected.

“Mr Packer needs to stop blaming Rio Tinto for his own ignorance about cultural heritage.  Of course, Rio Tinto, now knows better after Juukan Gorge.”

Mr O’Brien said the role of directors within ERA is to be perfectly honest with the market, including all minor investors. “Unlike many other proposed projects on Aboriginal land, Jabiluka is utterly impossible – it is unfeasible both culturally and technically. Rio Tinto has acknowledged this. It is hardly a secret.

“Mr Packer has complained of something having gone “terribly wrong” with his gamble at Jabiluka. In fact, the only thing ‘terribly wrong’ has been the false hope of ignorant investors.”

October 10, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Ranger Mine uranium-contaminated waste trucked to Darwin suburb.

finding 50 kg of uranium tailings waste off-site is not a “small scale” event as claimed by ERA, and near three months for this radioactive event to make the media…

Potentially ‘deadly’ toxic waste accidentally trucked into Darwin

Energy Resources Australia is investigating how Ranger Mine toxic waste came to be transported through the Kakadu National Park and left on a truck in a Darwin suburb.

RADIOACTIVE waste has been transported through Kakadu National Park and left on a truck in Winnellie.

In June an excavator at Ranger Mine used to dig uranium tailings, was removed from the site with 50kg of mixed material still inside the vehicle.

The removal of any toxic waste is a major breach of Energy Resources Australia’s Ranger Mine rehabilitation plan as it poses a deadly contamination risk to people and the environment.

According to Energy Resources Australia the compacted waste was in a steel encased void of an excavator and not detected by radiation screening before leaving the site………………………

Supervising Scientist Keith Taylor said the breach was “regrettable” but he was confident there was no risk posed to people or the environment.

“There have been other incidents of this nature, most notably the 2004 prosecution which is of public record,” he said.

“There have been others as well but that is the most notable.”

Mr Taylor said scientists and ERA were working together to review the ‘clearance processes,’ which includes a radiation screening.

Mirarr Traditional Owners and the NLC were made aware of the incident on June 3.

In February, ERA announced the rehabilitation plan for Ranger Mine had blown out to an estimated $1.2bn.

It left the company scrambling for cash and relying heavily on its major shareholder Rio Tinto.

August 27, 2022 Posted by | - incidents, Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

ERA looks at funding options for Ranger

 https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/era-looks-at-funding-options-for-ranger/?fbclid=IwAR0d8ZOC6Sw7adxsNmSSEDnOWzZ319hiuqJB4clv0bQtKX5INnhiTtalqeY June 27, 2022 Ray Chan Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) is reviewing all available options to ensure that the forecast increase in the cost of rehabilitation of its Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory will be adequately funded.

In January 2021, ERA – in which Rio Tinto holds 86.3 per cent shares – ceased all mining and processing activities at Ranger after 40 years of operation. It was Australia’s longest continually operating uranium oxide producer.

ERA said it was committed to delivering a positive legacy for Traditional Owners and for all Australians for the future, with its closure plan outlining the path for progressive rehabilitation, which began in 1981, with final rehabilitation to be completed by January 2026.

But given ERA’s current cash on hand position, it said an urgent interim funding solution was required.

The company is engaging with its substantial shareholders in relation to a potential interim entitlement offer to raise ongoing funding for the rehabilitation of the project, the size, price and structure of which are still to be determined.

The operations of ERA are located on Aboriginal land and surrounded by, but separate from, Kakadu National Park. ERA respectfully acknowledges the Mirarr, Traditional Custodians of the land on which the Ranger project area is situated.

During its lifetime, Ranger produced in excess of 132,000 tonnes of uranium oxide.

June 28, 2022 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Remembering the success of the nuclear-free movement at Muckaty in Australia’s Northern Territory

The Commons Social Change Library Nuclear Fuel Cycle watch Jim Green, 24 FEb 22, https://www.facebook.com/groups/1021186047913052

 To mark the first anniversary of the official announcement of Muckaty in the Northern Territory as the site for a proposed national radioactive waste dump, members of Friends of the Earth ACE (Anti-nuclear and Clean Energy) Collective toured part of the ALP Energy and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson’s Batman electorate in search of an alternative dumping ground.

This was one of many protests against the project and it would take another three years of concerted campaigning by the Muckaty community and supporters to overturn the government’s decision. For his part Ferguson rapidly transitioned from mining minister to mining lobbyist, taking up a role as the chair of peak group the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association within six months of retirement from parliament.

To learn more about creative activism visit- https://commonslibrary.org/creative-activism-101-an…/

February 26, 2022 Posted by | Northern Territory, Opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Australians should remember our past and continuing uranium/nuclear environmental disasters

Australia has a nuclear past, we just like to forget it, St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, Chris McLennan,  29 Oct 21, No sooner did Australia announce it was going to buy a nuclear submarine fleet, there was talk of nuclear power plants as well.

Am I the only one who fears they unknowingly contracted COVID-19 or some other nasty and it has somehow warped their mind?

Nuclear this and nuclear that – everyone needs to have a nice lie down.

Australia has a poor record when it comes to nuclear power………….

One of the biggest fans of nuclear power in this country is a Senator from the Northern Territory, a veterinarian in her former life, Sam McMahon.

As someone from the Territory, she should know better

I’ll explain why in a bit.

One of the biggest fans of nuclear power in this country is a Senator from the Northern Territory, a veterinarian in her former life, Sam McMahon.

As someone from the Territory, she should know better.   There are quite a few thumping great holes in the ground in her patch which need mending first.

It’s one of our dark secrets and remains one of the biggest environmental disasters in Australian history…..

Australia’s first large scale uranium mine was dug at Rum Jungle on behalf of our “Allies” in the UK and USA to fuel their nuclear weapon programs in the 1950s….

The NT Government has recently lodged plans for another go at the rehabilitation of the old mine which is today filled with water.

If it goes ahead, this will be the second go.

The mine was the first large industrial enterprise undertaken in the NT……

At Rum Jungle, a total of 863,000 tonnes of uranium ore was mined in a project under the ownership of the Commonwealth Government through the Australian Atomic Energy Commission.

The 200 hectare site closed in 1971 and was abandoned.

About $20 million was later spent trying to clean up the NT site, but the pollution continues and may continue for thousands of years.

Large volumes of radioactive mine waste (tailings) are still on the site.   In 2003, an investigation of the tailings piles found that capping which was supposed to help contain this radioactive waste for at least 100 years, had failed in less than 20 years.

The latest rehabilitation efforts at Rum Jungle from 1983 to 1986 cost $18.6 million.   Although at the time of the 1980s works the objectives were deemed to have been achieved, more recent studies have documented the gradual deterioration of the original rehabilitation works.

The NT and Federal Government agree there needs to be an improved rehabilitation strategy for the site.

These latest plans say the clean up would take at least five years.

No estimate was given for how much it would cost or who is going to pay for it.

The soil is contaminated, as is the groundwater and there is still waste rock needing disposal on the site.

In short, it’s a mess…….

There’s Ranger.

There is still no logical explanation as to how a big uranium mine could be allowed in the middle of perhaps Australia’s most famous national park, Kakadu, but it was.

Ranger has recently been closed and the site is somehow to be rehabilitated after more than 130,000 tonnes of uranium oxide was pulled from the place over the past three decades.

Energy Resources Australia, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, says it has spent more than $642 million in the past eight years on rehabilitation of the mountains of tailings complicated by a lake created from a vast flooded pit.

Their work is only a few years from being finished.

Only time will tell if that scar ever heals…………. https://www.theleader.com.au/story/7485098/australia-has-a-nuclear-past-we-just-like-to-forget-it/?cs=9676

October 30, 2021 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

‘It makes us sick’: remote NT community wants answers about uranium in its water supply


‘It makes us sick’: remote NT community wants answers about uranium in its water supply,  
Laramba’s Indigenous residents fear they are at risk of long-term illness and say they need to know who is responsible for fixing the problem, Guardian, by Royce Kurmelovs and Isabella Moore, Mon 18 Oct 2021,

Jack Cool is looking to hitch a lift out of town.

The 71-year-old former stockman has lived in Laramba, a remote Indigenous community in the Northern Territory, for most of his life

Since his partner, Jennifer, 57, and his youngest daughter, Petrina, 35, started kidney dialysis at the end of last year, he has been trying to make the two-and-a-half hour trip south into Alice Springs whenever he can.

Cool, who also takes medication for kidney issues, says he doesn’t know why this has happened to his family but he thinks it has something to do with the water.

“When we drink the water it makes us sick,” he says.

Problems with Laramba’s water supply have been known since at least 2008 but the scale of the issue was not revealed until 2018, when testing by the government-owned utility company Power and Water Corporation (PWC) found drinking water in the community of 350 people was contaminated with concentrations of uranium at 0.046mg/L.

That is nearly three times the limit of 0.017mg/L recommended in the Australian drinking water guidelines published by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Follow-up testing in 2020 found the problem was getting worse as uranium concentrations – which occur naturally in the area – had risen to 0.052mg/L, and the water also contained contaminants such as nitrate and silica.

A stream of conflicting advice

Prof Paul Lawton, a kidney specialist with the Menzies School of Health Research who has been working in the Territory since 1999, says there is no good evidence to say for sure whether the water at Laramba is safe to drink…….

Assoc Prof Tilman Ruff from the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne says uranium contamination also delivers “relatively low but relatively frequent doses” of radiation

“The overall consequences from a radioactive point of view is that this will widely dispose in the body and organs, and will contribute to a long-term risk of cancer,” Ruff says.

Because children are particularly vulnerable, with girls 40% more likely than boys to be affected over their lifetime, Ruff says there is “no good amount of radiation”.

Though there are still many unknowns, authorities elsewhere have addressed similar situations by acting with caution. In Eton, Queensland, a bore supplying the community was turned off when concerning concentrations of uranium were found in the water supply……….

A permanent holding pattern’

Laramba is just one of many among the 72 remote Indigenous communities in the Territory whose water is contaminated with bacteria or heavy metals.

This year the NT government promised $28m over four years to find “tailored” solutions for 10 towns, including Laramba, after a campaign by four land councils for laws to guarantee safe drinking water across the territory.

Asked what was being done to fix the problem, a spokesperson for PWC directed Guardian Australia to sections of the company’s latest drinking water quality report that discuss pilot programs for “new and emerging” technologies to “potentially” clean water of uranium and other heavy metals……….

What little information that is available has filtered through in the media or highly technical language that many people, for whom English is a second language, can’t understand.

In the meantime both men say several people, including some in their own families, have been diagnosed with kidney problems or cancer.

“We have to drink, so we are drinking it,” Hagan says. “We don’t know anything about $28m. We’re still here drinking the same water. Nothing’s changed.”

The co-director of the Environment Centre NT, Kirsty Howey, says communities such as Laramba have been left in a “permanent holding pattern” and the lack of engagement is a “feature of a flawed system”.

Boiling point

Andy Attack, a non-Indigenous man who runs the Laramba general store, says in the three years he has lived there he has noticed a change in the community.

“People here are just so respectful and polite and calm,” he says. “The water is something that makes them really angry, and they don’t like being angry. It’s not nice seeing them like that.”

Attack says the first thing he was told when he moved to Laramba was not to drink the water. He installed reverse osmosis filters normally used in hospitals, which cost $130 a year to maintain, on the taps in his house.

Those who can’t afford such sums must either rely on rainwater or buy expensive 10L casks. ……….https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/oct/18/uranium-in-the-water-remote-nt-community-wants-answers-about-safety

October 18, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, health, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium mining and high cancer rates in Aboriginals around Ranger mine

Kakadu mining and radiation, The Saturday Paper 14 Aug 21, Max Opray  Carved out of the pristine surroundings of Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, the Ranger uranium mine has long been a site of deep controversy.

The mine may have been decommissioned in January, but concerns remain about its legacy, as the Mirarr traditional owners suffer through a mysterious health crisis.

The stillbirth rate among Aboriginal people living near the mine is more than twice as high as among Indigenous Australians elsewhere in the Top End, and rates of cancer are almost 50 per cent higher.

A six-year Northern Territory investigation into the issue failed to identify the cause, noting only that risk factors relating to diet, smoking and alcohol consumption were higher in the local population than in other Aboriginal populations.

The investigation was conducted by staff at the Population and Digital Health Branch of the Northern Territory Department of Health  and overseen by an independent reviewer in cancer, epidemiologist professor Bruce Armstrong.

The report, published in November 2020, concluded ionising radiation from uranium mining was unlikely to be linked but did not categorically rule it out.

However, a Flinders University Centre for Remote Health analysis of the government investigation, published in the Medical Journal of Australia this month, found that the parameters of the inquiry were too narrow.

“Cancer is a complex condition,” Dr Rosalie Schultz, author of the analysis, tells The Saturday Paper. “A study like this can’t find a definitive cause.”

The Alice Springs GP was concerned that the main outtake of the report was that Aboriginal people should smoke and drink less.

“Statistically, it didn’t look like smoking and drinking caused the excess cancer rate,” she says. “It’s almost like blaming people rather than looking into the reasons – why is it people are smoking and drinking more in that area in particular, for instance?”

With more than 200 documented leaks, spills and other incidents associated with the mine, Schultz argues the impact of Ranger was multifaceted, including social consequences not considered by the investigation. “Things like destruction of waterbirds and creeks, the worry of that when you get your food and livelihood from the land,” she says.

A senate estimates committee heard in 2009 that 100,000 litres of contaminated water a day was leaking from the mine’s tailings dam into rock fissures beneath Kakadu.

In another breach in 2004, dozens of mine employees were found to have showered in and consumed water containing 400 times the legal limit of uranium.

In response to the release of the Territory government report, Reuben Cooper, chair of the Red Lily Health Board Aboriginal Corporation, welcomed messages “to encourage reduction in smoking and alcohol consumption” but said the findings offered an incomplete picture.

“This investigation does not discuss the reasons for higher rates of smoking and alcohol consumption in the Gunbalanya–Kakadu region,” he said, “which could include factors such as cultural dislocation, stress and royalty payments. Nor does it discuss the potential social impacts that the uranium mining industry has had on the population in the region.”

Schultz’s analysis expands further on these points, noting how unevenly distributed royalty money can increase inequality and the ways in which locals were deprived of a sense of agency and authority.

“The inquiry didn’t look at other knowledge, such as the Dreaming stories about sickness country,” Schultz says.

Centuries before Western science understood the dangers of radioactive substances, Aboriginal people were avoiding the uranium-rich sites near Kakadu, which were considered inappropriate places to camp.

The Dreaming stories of the Jawoyn people warn against disturbing stones or drinking water in what they called “sickness country” south of Ranger, beneath which Bula the creator is said to lie dormant.

In and around the Ranger site itself, the Dreaming stories of the Mirarr warn of sacred sites that are dangerous to disturb……………..

With no data available about individual exposure to ionising radiation, the report authors concluded this was unlikely to have been a contributing factor based on measurement of environmental radiation levels, consumption of bush tucker, and airborne exposure to radon gas.

Justin O’Brien, chief executive of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirarr people, says the “shocking paucity of data” extends to all aspects of the health and social impacts of the mine. “It’s a very limited data set, so no wonder the findings are inconclusive,” he says………..

With the mine decommissioned in January this year, O’Brien is concerned about whether operators Energy Resources of Australia, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, will properly rehabilitate the Ranger site, warning that radioactive waste from uranium mining can remain hazardous for tens of thousands of years.

“This is just the first chapter of the legacy of this mine, and the world is watching Rio Tinto,” he says. “The mining company has been given five years to complete all the rehabilitation work – this is patently insufficient.”…………

For Schultz’s part, the monitoring of Ranger failed even in the context of Western science. “They didn’t do what was recommended to consider local perspectives and concerns,” she says. “It was a top-down epidemiological approach, where if you can exclude ionising radiation, the mine is off the hook. It feels like the science is taking a narrower approach now – we used to have researchers embedded in communities. Forty years later … we just look at five data points and that’s it.”  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/life/health/2021/08/14/kakadu-mining-and-radiation/162886320012251#mtr

August 14, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, health, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Higher cancer and stillbirth rates in Aboriginal people living near the Ranger uranium mine

Aboriginal people near the Ranger uranium mine suffered more stillbirths and cancer. We don’t know why,  The Conversation, Rosalie Schultz, Adjunct Senior Lecturer, College of Medicine and Public Health Centre for Remote Health, Flinders University, August 2, 2021 This article mentions stillbirth deaths in Aboriginal communities.

The Ranger uranium mine, surrounded by Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, operated for 40 years until it closed in 2021During this time, Aboriginal people in the region experienced stillbirth rates double those of Aboriginal people elsewhere in the Top End, and cancer rates almost 50% higher.

But a NT government investigation couldn’t explain why. And as I write today in the Medical Journal of Australia, we’re still no wiser.

We owe it to Aboriginal people living near mines to understand and overcome what’s making them sick. We need to do this in partnership with Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations. This may require research that goes beyond a biomedical focus to consider the web of socio-cultural and political factors contributing to Aboriginal well-being and sickness.

Investigating the health impacts

Uranium was mined at Ranger from 1981 until 2012. Processing of stockpiled ore continued until 2021. This is despite community opposition when the mine was proposed and during its operation.

Over the life of the mine, there have been more than 200 documented incidents. Diesel and acid spills have contaminated creeks and drinking water.

The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation represents the Mirarr people of the region. For decades it has expressed grave concerns about continuing incidents and the lack of an effective government response.

When Ranger’s operators proposed expanding the mine in 2014, opponents pointed to suggestions of higher rates of stillbirth and cancer among Aboriginal people living nearby.

The NT health department then set up an investigation. Investigators began by identifying all Aboriginal people who had spent more than half their lives near the mine between 1991 and 2014. These people were compared with all other Aboriginal people in the Top End.

The investigators considered the worst-case scenario would be if Aboriginal people were exposed to radiation from the mine contaminating bush food, water or air, and this exposure increased stillbirth and cancer rates.

Investigators also looked at smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol and poor diet as possible contributing causes.

Here’s what they found

Investigators found the rate of stillbirth was 2.17 times higher among Aboriginal women near the mine. Radiation can lead to stillbirth by causing congenital malformations, and some other risk factors for stillbirth appeared more common amongst women near the mine. However the investigation found neither radiation nor other risk factors explained the higher rate of stillbirth.

The rate of cancer overall was 1.48 times higher among Aboriginal people near the mine than elsewhere in the Top End. No rates of single cancers were significantly higher…………. https://theconversation.com/aboriginal-people-near-the-ranger-uranium-mine-suffered-more-stillbirths-and-cancer-we-dont-know-why-164862

August 2, 2021 Posted by | health, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Historic handback of Kakadu town to Mirarr traditional owners,

Historic handback of Kakadu town to Mirarr traditional owners, The Age By Miki PerkinJune 26, 2021,  For four decades the Mirarr people, led by senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula, have been calling for the town of Jabiru, inside World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, to be returned to its rightful custodians.

At a handback ceremony on Saturday, their decades-long fight for recognition of their traditional ownership over Jabiru culminated in the grant of freehold title over the town, the first of its kind in Australia.

At a handback ceremony on Saturday, their decades-long fight for recognition of their traditional ownership over Jabiru culminated in the grant of freehold title over the town, the first of its kind in Australia.

The fight for land rights in the region began in 1978, when Jabiru was built on Crown Land without the involvement of traditional owners to service the controversial Ranger uranium mine.

Ranger began operations in 1980, and was run by Energy Resources Australia, which is majority-owned by Rio Tinto.

Initially, there were plans to bulldoze the Jabiru town once the mining lease expired, but the Northern Territory government and the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents Mirarr people, have developed an ambitious plan to transform it into a tourism hub for Kakadu, and a regional centre.

The Commonwealth has promised $276 million towards the revitalisation of the town, which includes a new international airport, a five-star eco-tourism lodge, and better access to Kakadu’s natural attractions, but there have been criticisms at the speed of progress.

Justin O’Brien, the chief executive of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation said the lease handover was a historic milestone in the transition from a mining economy to tourism but the town’s future challenges should not be underestimated.

Energy Resources Australia had failed to engage in a timely way on the town’s transition, Mr O’Brien said, with former mining employee houses not ready for use, and at least 70 ERA houses vacant…….

Processing of ore at the uranium mine finished in January and the mine’s vast pits will be filled in over the next five years, but there are concerns about the rehabilitation process.

Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney welcomed the tenure change but said there were profound challenges ahead for the costly and complex mine rehabilitation, which is set to be completed by 2026.

“There has been 40 years of industrial activity involving heavy metals and radioactive materials in a wet-dry tropical place, surrounded by a World-Heritage listed area,” Mr Sweeney said. “To bring that up to a standard where it could be reincorporated into the surrounding area is a very, very high bar.”

In a statement, Energy Resources Australia extended its congratulations to Mirarr traditional owners and said that after 40 years of production its priority was to successfully rehabilitate Ranger to a standard that could be incorporated into Kakadu National Park.

In the mid-1990s, Ms Margarula and other Mirarr people mounted a high-profile campaign to oppose the Jabiluka uranium mine. Elders also lodged the Jabiru native title claim which was decided by the Federal Court in 2016 after one of Australia’s longest-running native title matters. The court granted native title to the Mirarr.

In 2017, researchers published their findings about a wealth of artefacts on Mirarr country which indicated humans reached Australia at least 65,000 years ago — up to 18,000 years earlier than archaeologists previously thought.  https://www.theage.com.au/environment/sustainability/historic-handback-of-kakadu-town-to-mirarr-traditional-owners-20210625-p584c7.html

June 28, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

With uranium mining closed, Kakadu ‘stagnates” during long wait for proposed federal funding.

Fears Kakadu is ‘probably going to stagnate’ during the long wait for promised federal funding, ABC
By Roxanne Fitzgerald  11 Apr 21
, The federal government has been urged to fast-track an investment worth more than $200 million it promised two years ago to revitalise the world heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.

Key points:
Kakadu National Park has been waiting two years for a pivotal federal investmentPoliticians and traditional owners fear Kakadu will ‘stagnate’ without it

A Senior Advisory Group has been established to examine the management of the park.

The Australian government has allocated only $5.4 million so far to transition Jabiru — the community in the centre of the park — from a mining town into a world-class tourism hub.

Outlined in 2019 federal budget papers, the $216.2 million was also meant to fund road upgrades, a new park visitor centre and more than $50 million in tourism infrastructure over a 10-year timeframe.The federal government’s promised spending has now grown to $276 million.

Parks Australia has blamed the COVID-19 pandemic and consultations with traditional owners for delays in approving funding………….. .
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-11/nt-calls-for-kakadu-investment-to-be-fast-tracked/100054140

April 11, 2021 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

The remediation of Ranger uranium mine: will it really restore the environment?

Traditional owners were given land rights in return for their support for the Ranger mine, and Kakadu National Park was born.   ……. the land will finally be returned to the traditional owners… the question is, in what state?  ………    we could find the site an eroding heap of substandard scrub.    

As part of cleaning up the mine site, contaminated buildings and equipment will be buried in one of the mine’s enormous pits.    

  We’ve been told that burying the equipment and the contaminated material in the mine site is out of step with global best practice in the mining industry.

February 25, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Australia a renewables leader – or the Saudi Arabia of nuclear energy”

“Nuclear power is dangerous, unnecessary and colossally expensive. It would take more than a decade to build a nuclear reactor in Australia and cost billions. It’s the ultimate climate action delay tactic”
“Australia has an opportunity to position itself as a world leader in renewables.”
The NT, with our abundance of Uranium, should be the Saudi Arabia of nuclear energy’: Senator McMahon,    Hepburn Advocate, Roxanne Fitzgerald, 19 Feb 21,

Northern Territory Senator Dr Sam McMahon says she is “delighted” her push for nuclear has been backed, after the Nationals announced new amendments to a bill in favour of nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage.

Nationals Senators, led by Matt Canavan and Bridget McKenzie have announced a raft of amendments to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) bill to invest in nuclear power.

Senator McMahon says the drafted legislation supports her long-established calls to unlock nuclear energy…..

The Northern Territory, with our abundance of Uranium and potential nuclear fuel Thorium, should be the Saudi Arabia of nuclear energy.

But political activist group Get Up’s national director Paul Oosting says that as Australia forges ahead with solutions to the climate crisis, such as solar technology, the push for nuclear could delay climate action.

“Nuclear power is dangerous, unnecessary and colossally expensive. It would take more than a decade to build a nuclear reactor in Australia and cost billions. It’s the ultimate climate action delay tactic,” Mr Oosting said.

“Australia has an opportunity to position itself as a world leader in renewables. It’s critical this pivotal moment in our history not be squandered on obsolete and failing technologies that will lock in irreparable climate damage.”

Mr Oosting said he was concerned the clean energy corporation could become a “slush fund” for the coal, gas, and nuclear industry, and cautioned politicians from backing the bill.

“When Taylor’s Bill comes before Parliament, politicians who accept the seriousness of the climate crisis we face – of all parties and none – must act to ensure coal, gas, and nuclear are excluded from any definition of ‘low emissions technology’, the return-on-investment requirement is kept, and the independence of the CEFC board is maintained,” he said………….he said………….   https://www.hepburnadvocate.com.au/story/7134825/the-nt-should-be-the-saudi-arabia-of-nuclear-energy-senator-mcmahon/

February 20, 2021 Posted by | Northern Territory, politics | Leave a comment

Mediation continuing over rehabilitation of Range uranium mine

Mediation continues behind closed doors, but the case is a clear reminder that commitments are not set in stone and that clean-up funding for even the most environmentally destructive projects is not guaranteed.

While national and/or state law jurisdictions regulate specific requirements for closure and associated financial assurance, which also determine the period of rehabilitation, it is essential that members of the mining community are aware of applicable law and regulation in all jurisdictions of operation……….

“In the context of price volatility, investment shifts and now Covid-19, many major companies have been mothballing operations and selling mines to juniors, smaller and/or less resourced companies around the world. The most notable may be Blair Athol coal mine in Queensland, sold for $1 in 2016.”

The socio-economic and financial arrangements for closure agreements are especially important in order to avoid dumping the costs on taxpayers and society .

How long should a miner commit to oversight?  https://www.mining-technology.com/news/mining-rio-tinto/   Yoana Cholteeva11 February 2021 

A subsidiary of Rio Tinto is currently in mediation  with the Australian Government over continuing commitments to scientific monitoring of the Ranger mine. We examine the dispute and take a look at some positive examples of land remediation.

Land rehabilitation as part of mining oversight is an essential process where the land in a mining area is returned to some degree of its former state. Recently, a new dispute over the rehabilitation of the Ranger Uranium Mine in the Northern Territory of Australia, owned by a Rio Tinto subsidiary, once again reignited the debate over how long a miner should maintain oversight once operations have stopped.

Rio Tinto’s oversight dilemma

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February 18, 2021 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Solar, storage to take over from Ranger uranium mine

February 18, 2021 Posted by | Northern Territory, solar, storage, uranium | Leave a comment