Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Mirrarr people to lead the Kakadu region’s transition from uranium mining

Kirsten Blair, Community and International Liaison, 15 Aug 19,   Gundjeihmi Aboriginal CorporationToday GAC chairwoman, Toby’s Gangale’s daughter: Valerie Balmoore signed an MOU with the Federal and NT Governments as well as mining company ERA committing all parties to a Mirarr-led post-mining future for Jabiru.

There is still much work to be done on Mirarr country including cleaning up the immense Ranger uranium mine. GAC and others will continue our diligent work in this area – and there are no guarantees the cleanup will be wholly successful – but restoration of country remains the absolute objective.

Mirarr continue to assert their rights as Traditional Owners and lead the way for people and country, this Jabiru story is evidence of a massive shift. The power in these images speaks for itself. Today is deeply hopeful for the Kakadu region and offers an incredible message for all communities resisting unwanted mining projects.

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August 15, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

(Officially no climate change in Australia) but Norther Territory towns are running out ofvwater

NT rural residents face spending thousands to truck in water if bores run dry, ABC News, By Sowaibah Hanifie  29 July 19, With groundwater levels critically low and the wet season yet to begin, some rural Northern Territory residents fear they may have to pay thousands of dollars to truck in water for their homes.

Many bores connected to the Berry Springs and Howard Springs groundwater systems have been flagged as critical and could run dry as soon as October due to the driest Territory wet season in decades.

Eddie and Sheryl Kendall’s Berry Springs bamboo business could collapse if their bore runs dry.

“The plants, we’d just have to let them die,” Mrs Kendall said.

“That wouldn’t be very good, but if you have to do it, you have to do it.”

Mr Kendall said while their bore was not critically low yet, they were being conservative with their water use, meaning their plants were not getting the water they needed to thrive.

In the community of Southport, Progress Association president Barry Whalan said he would be forced to pay $400 per week if his community, which has a critically low bore, ran dry before the wet season in December……..

Humpty Doo resident Shannon Griffiths is living near the site of a proposed $2 billion, 4,000-property development in Noonamah Ridge, which would be completed over 30 years.

Mr Griffiths said while he understood the Government wanted to increase the Territory’s population, he was concerned more rural development would put his groundwater at risk.

“How are they going to monitor people running their bores or irrigating their yards at night, which a lot of people do,” he said…..

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-29/rural-water-bores-running-dry-northern-territory/11354680

July 30, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Rio Tinto moves to own Ranger remediation

Rio Tinto moves to own Ranger remediation, Matthew Stevens, Jul 26, 2019

https://www.afr.com/companies/mining/rio-tinto-moves-to-own-ranger-remediation-20190725-p52ape

In pushing Energy Resources Australia towards a potentially controversial capital raising Rio Tinto has moved to take greater ownership of what is arguably the most important mine retirement and clean-up in Australian resources history.

The task ahead is the required $830 million remediation of the Ranger uranium mine, which sits in a necessarily excised pocket of the United Nations World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.

Ranger has been operated by Energy Resources Australia through its often controversial 40-year life. Through that time ERA has been majority owned by Rio Tinto or its Australian forebear, CRA. Currently Rio owns 68.4 per cent of ERA.

But a plan to fill the $400 million or so gap between what Ranger’s remediation is expected to cost and the cash that ERA has at hand to pay for the big clean-up could quite easily see Rio creep to a position that would see the mine operator fully absorbed by the mother ship.

ERA revealed extended discussion with Rio Tinto over how the funding gap would be filled has ended with its Anglo-Australia overseer insisting the only path was for Ranger’s operator to make a renounceable rights issue.

Rio Tinto has committed to take up its full entitlement and to underwrite the balance of any issuance if alternatives are not available.

The erstwhile uranium miner told its minority owners that it is “considering the size, structure and terms” of any potential rights issue “having regard to the interests of ERA as a whole”.

While that is an appropriate expression of independence, the most unlikely outcome here would be an ERA board populated by Rio Tinto appointees will end up doing anything that does not concur with the parent’s view of the company’s future.

The minority question

The most likely question ahead, then, for minority shareholders is going to be whether or not they double-down on a failed punt and back the rights issue needed to sustain the long, costly wind-up of their business?

Whatever the size, structure and terms of the raising Rio Tinto wants ERA to make, it will be material to the minority owners. ERA’s current market capitalisation is $130 million. So tapping the market for even half the shortfall could prove definitively dilutive for those unprepared to throw funds at a business destined to disappear.

In most circumstances this course might be cause to wonder at whether or not this pathway might represent a level of minority shareholder oppression. Rio Tinto’s pitch though is the exception to the rule.

ERA stopped being a miner five years ago and hopes its future might be extended were dashed a few years later when Rio Tinto found itself unable to support the Ranger 3 underground expansion, a conclusion we revealed first in April 2015.

Presently ERA’s only recourse to income is through processing uranium from stockpiled ore. That production will end in 2021 and ERA has a legal obligation to safely close the operation by 2026. The cost of remediation will endure at least half a decade beyond that and so too will the risk to reputation and social licence of any and all shortcomings of that effort.

Quite sensibly, Rio Tinto assesses it fully owns the risk of any failure or future non-compliance. It is regularly reminded of that inescapable reality by the anti-uranium activists, by the increasingly power ESG lobby and by governments state and federal.

RELATED: Rio Tinto worried about ERA’s Ranger uranium mine

The funding proposal sketched out on Thursday announces those warnings were unnecessary. Rio Tinto really does want to own Ranger’s remediation.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

The Northern Territory’s opportunity – clean energy found a ‘pathway to prosperity’

June 20, 2019 Posted by | energy, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

The health toll of Australia’s uranium nuclear industry – theme for June19

Well -they carefully haven’t kept health records, have they?

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY, Parliament of Australia 

4.1 The perception that uranium mining has not led to ill health effects in workers has been created through the lack of comprehensive studies on worker health and the failure of Governments to establish a national registry for health workers. …..

Uranium mining, however, presents unique risks over other mining operations. Because of the presence of radioactive elements, uranium miners are at risk not only of immediate health problems, but of delayed fatal effects such as cancer. There is also the potential for radiation exposure to lead to illness and defects in the offspring of uranium miners

RADIATION EXPOSURE FOR URANIUM MINERS.  The potentially serious effects of radiation on workers has been shown by previous mines in Australia. Evidence was given to the Committee that 40% of underground workers at the Radium Hill mine in South Australia have died of lung cancer [12]. Even with more recent mining operations it was clear that worker health and safety was not given the priority it deserves. On a trip to the closed Narbarlek mine, the Committee saw worker health records and files left scattered on the floor of an abandoned administrative building. When the Committee visited WMC’s Olympic Dam mine, it saw workers who were not wearing the Thermoluminescent Dial (TLD) badges which register their exposure to radiation.   https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Former_Committees/uranium/report/d05#10

Kirsten Johnson
kirstjohn@aapt.net.au  I have a father, uncle and two aunts who all worked at Rum Jungle in the 1960’s. My father and uncle passed away in their 60’s due to lung cancer. My aunt in her 60’s due to breast cancer and my other aunt who is still with us today has also had breast cancer. Surely this cannot be a coincidence and I would like to know if there is information with regards to the health impact that the Rum Jungle uranium mine has had on past workers.

Janet Dickinson nee Litchfield
dickinsonjanet@hotmail.com  – I am Kirsten Johnson’s aunt, and sister to Judy, Peter and Kevin Litchfield who passed away with cancer. all having worked at Rum Jungle in the 50’s. My father in law also passed away in 1979, aged 70 from lung cancer, he worked at Rum Jungle for 20 years from 1958. I have just recently been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

Health effects on Aboriginal people near Ranger uranium mine. 

….Since 1981, three years after mining began, at least 120 ‘mishaps’ and ‘occurrences’ — leakages, spillages of contaminated water, and breaches of regulations — have occurred. The Office of the Supervising Scientist has consistently claimed no harm to either the environment or human health — a claim difficult to substantiate. Since completion of the AIATSIS social impact monitoring report in 1984, there has been no monitoring of the social and physical impact on Aboriginal health and well-being, and no agency has specifically investigated the impacts on Aboriginal health.

Exploratory research undertaken in 2005 and 2006 has found a significant overall increase in the incidence of cancer among Aboriginal people in the Kakadu region — some ninety per cent greater than would be expected. We could not determine possible effects on maternal and child health because data on congenital malformations and stillbirths were not available. …. https://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/products/discussion_paper/dp20-aborigines-uranium-monitoring-health-hazards_0.pdf

June 8, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Christina themes, health, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Unfinished business: a new report on the Ranger uranium mine: what its clean-up means for Kakadu National Park

Unfinished business: Kakadu needs a new approach to cleaning up an old mine, https://www.acf.org.au/unfinished_business_kakadu_needs_a_new_approach 7 May 19,      How well the Ranger uranium mine is cleaned up is key to the long-term health of Kakadu.

A new report has found Australia’s largest national park is at long-term risk unless the clean-up of the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu is done comprehensively and effectively.

Unfinished business, co-authored by the Sydney Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of Sydney and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), identifies significant data deficiencies, a lack of clarity around regulatory and governance frameworks and uncertainty over the adequacy of current and future financing – especially in relation to future monitoring and mitigation works for the controversial mine site.

Mine operator Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) and parent company Rio Tinto are required to clean up the site to a standard suitable for inclusion in the surrounding Kakadu National Park, dual-listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

“No mine in the world has ever successfully achieved this standard of clean up,” said report co-author Dr Rebecca Lawrence from SEI.

“Rehabilitating what is essentially a toxic waste dump is no easy task. Rio Tinto faces a complex and costly rehabilitation job.

“The challenge is not to simply scrape rocks into holes and plant trees, it is to make sure mine tailings, radioactive slurry and toxic by-products of mining are isolated from the surrounding environment for 10,000 years.

“To ensure this in a monsoonal environment, such as Kakadu, which is already being impacted by climate change, raises enormous environmental and governance challenges.

“For the rehabilitation process to even have a chance at success, the existing opaque and complex regulatory regime needs an urgent overhaul,” Dr Lawrence said.

Tailings, the waste material remaining after the processing of finely ground ore, are one of the serious environmental risks outlined in the report. The report examines how ERA and Rio Tinto intend to deliver on the federal government’s requirement to protect the Kakadu environment by isolating any tailings and making sure contaminants do not result in any detrimental environmental impacts for at least 10,000 years.

“Long after the miners have gone this waste remains a direct human and environmental challenge,” said report co-author Dave Sweeney from ACF.

“This issue is key to the long-term health of Kakadu but there is insufficient evidence and detail on how this work will be managed and assured in the future. Without this detail there will be a sleeping toxic time bomb deep inside Kakadu.

“At its London AGM last month Rio again committed to make sure ERA has the financial resources to deliver its rehabilitation obligations, however the financial mechanism to do so remains undisclosed.

“The community and environment of Kakadu need certainty and a comprehensive clean up.

“This work is a key test of the commitment and capacity of Northern Territory and Commonwealth regulators as well as the mining companies.”

The report makes recommendations to improve the chances of a successful clean-up at Ranger. It calls for increased transparency, public release of key project documents, a better alignment of research and operations and open review processes for key decision points.

The full report is here.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Northern Territory passes law on nuclear wastes, reiterates opposition to NT nuclear waste dump

NT moves to clarify offshore oil, gas industry’s nuclear waste obligations http://m.miningweekly.com/article/nt-moves-to-clarify-offshore-oil-gas-industrys-nuclear-waste-obligations-2019-02-15

15th February 2019 BY: ESMARIE IANNUCCI  CREAMER MEDIA SENIOR DEPUTY EDITOR: AUSTRALASIA PERTH  – The Northern Territory has passed the Nuclear Waste Transport Storage and Disposal (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, providing the offshore oil and gas industry with a blueprint of their obligations around the management of nuclear waste.

The nuclear waste covered by the Bill included naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs) that could be incidentally generated from offshore oil and gas activities and subsequently brought into the Northern Territory, Environment and Natural Resources Minister Eva Lawler said.

“The Bill demonstrates the Northern Territory government’s commitment to protecting the Territory’s environment, while listening to and responding to concerns raised by the offshore oil and gas industry about the ambiguities in the regulatory environment.

“The Amendment Bill addresses ambiguities in exemptions for nuclear waste, including NORMs that may be created as a by-product of industry activities.”

NORMs are widespread in sands, clay, soils and rocks and many ores and minerals, commodities, products and by-products.

Lawler said that the amendments to this Bill became necessary after uncertainties were raised by industry about whether NORMs were exempt from the Act. The Amendment Bill reframes the exemptions while maintaining the Parliament’s original intention when passing the original Act.

She noted that the Northern Territory maintains a strong environmental stance against nuclear waste being dumped in the Territory, and from becoming a nuclear waste dump for the rest of Australia.

“Jobs are the number one priority for the Territory Labor government and we believe that good environmental policy makes good economic sense,” Lawler added.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | legal, Northern Territory, politics | Leave a comment

Climate change already having drastic effects on Torres Strait islands

Climate change eats away at Torres Strait islands, prompting calls for long-term solutions, ABC Far North 

A flood prevention method that withstood wild weather this week may be rolled out to other vulnerable Torres Strait communities, including Yam Island where families were left homeless after king tides last year.

Torres Strait Island Regional Council deputy mayor Getano Lui said geotextile sandbags were used for the first time in the Torres Strait this week when abnormally high tides impacted Poruma Island, a cultural hub home to just 200 people.

“It’s getting worse every year,” he said.”Climate change is really having a detrimental effect on all the communities.

“When I was growing up the elders could predict the weather but right now it’s unpredictable.

“The worst is yet to come this year, the king tides are predicted [on February 19] and anything could happen, we could end up with the same catastrophe as Yam Island last year.”

Connection to land, culture under threat

Research from the Torres Strait Regional Authority shows sea levels are rising by 6mm each year — double the global average.

“If this trend continues, relocation is an option many of those on the Torres Strait’s 200 islands and coral cays may be faced with,” Mr Lui said.

“What is instilled in us and our ancestors is if the Torres Strait sinks, we’ll sink with it.

“We would be very reluctant to be relocated.

“Most of us would refuse to leave.”

Torres Shire Council mayor Vonda Malone said the region’s two councils would now look at installing the sandbags on other vulnerable islands such as Yam Island, Masig Island and Boigu.

“The weather over the last two weeks has been unpredictable; it has been full on,” she said…..

Sinking cemeteries a concern for State MP

….https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-09/call-for-increased-flood-protection-in-torres-strait/10794696

February 8, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Ranger mine closure costs to hit more than $800m

Ranger mine closure costs to hit more than $800m NT News, 18 Jan 19, The Northern Territory’s Ranger mine is counting the millions — more than $800 million to be exact — to move the mine, which is surrounded by Kakadu National Park, towards full closure…. (subscribers only)

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Northern Territory – legal case over climate change

December 10, 2018 Posted by | climate change - global warming, legal, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Cost of rehabilitating Ranger uranium mine

World Nuclear News 7th Dec 2018 The estimated rehabilitation costs for the Ranger Project Area inAustralia’s Northern Territory have increased from AUD512 million (USD370
million) to AUD808 million, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has
announced. The estimate is based on preliminary findings from a feasibility
study which will be finalised in early 2019.
http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/ERA-updates-Ranger-rehabilitation-costs

December 10, 2018 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Mirrar people at last gain some control over their traditional land, as uranium miners leave

Jabiru native title claim victory for Mirarr traditional owners https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-09/mirarr-country-jabiru-native-title-determination-nt/10479708

Traditional owners in Jabiru, 300 kilometres east of Darwin, are celebrating after their native title rights and interests were successfully recognised under Australian law.

Key points:

  • Native Title application first lodged on behalf of the Mirrar people in 1998
  • Determination gives native title parties security to ensure their rights are protected
  • As mining interests leave, traditional owners hope to revitalise the struggling town

Generations of Mirarr people have lived traditionally and used the land within the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park for thousands of years.

In 2017, researchers uncovered 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.

Today, a special on-country hearing will be held to present the Mirarr native title holders, led by five senior women, with hard copies of the native title determination over areas of the Jabiru township. Continue reading

November 9, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Rio Tinto offloads Northern Territory uranium resources to Canadian company

Rio Tinto offloads NT uranium asset to Laramide, Australian Mining   Ewen Hosie

November 7, 2018 Rio Tinto has finalised its sale of the Murphy uranium tenements in the Northern Territory to Canadian company Laramide Resources.

The Murphy uranium tenements, located near the Queensland-NT border, were responsible for the production of high-grade uranium in the 1950s but have not seen much exploration since the 1970s. The tenements are contiguous to Laramide’s Westmoreland project in northwest Queensland.

The acquisition comprises the EL 9319 and EL 9414 exploration licences and several other applications across 683 square kilometres.

Laramide has paid Rio the first of three $150,000 cash payments to Rio Tinto as laid out in the terms of the agreement announced in July this year…….https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/laramide-completes-acquisition-rio-tinto-uranium-tenements-nt/

November 8, 2018 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Traditional Owners launch campaign challenging Origin Energy over NT fracking consents

16 October 2018 ‘A group of Traditional Owners from the Northern Territory are in Sydney this week
to challenge Origin Energy over claims it has consent for controversial gas fracking plans
across some of the Northern Territory’s most pristine
landscapes, waterways and iconic tourism regions.

Traditional Owners, the Protect Country Alliance and supporters will address
a press conference prior to the AGM, coinciding with the launch of a national campaign
calling on Origin to drop plans to frack the Northern Territory. …

Stuart Nuggett [TraditionalOwner] has travelled from the remote township of Elliott
to attend the AGM on behalf of his community, a region at the heart of Origin’s fracking permit acreage:
‘“Our communities haven’t been given enough information about what Origin is planning for our region.
We are worried about the risks fracking brings.
I have concerns over what the impact could be on water. Water is life.
I want the company to listen to our concerns and act on them.”

May August is an Alawa grandmother and Traditional Owner
for land under the Origin exploration permits:
‘“We don’t want fracking to start in our area because we have seen
the damage Origin and other companies have done elsewhere in Australia. … ‘

dontfracktheterritory.org/media-release-native-title-holders-launch-campaign-challenging-origin-energy-over-nt-fracking-consents/

October 23, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Traditional owners to tell Origin Energy it has not gained consent for fracking on their land 

ABC,  By Jane Bardon 16 Oct 18 A group of Indigenous traditional owners from remote parts of the Northern Territory will travel to Origin Energy’s annual general meeting in Sydney on Wednesday to tell shareholders they have not given permission for the company to frack their land for gas.

Key points:

  • A group of Indigenous traditional owners will soon tell Origin Energy shareholders they did not give consent for its planned developments
  • They will ask the company to review consent agreements
  • But the company is confident traditional owners already gave consent

Origin Energy gained official approvals for gas exploration, including test fracking, in the gas-rich Beetaloo Basin, both from traditional owners through the Northern Land Council, and the Northern Territory Government.

But some of the traditional owners plan to tell the shareholder meeting they oppose fracking, and did not give their “free, prior and informed consent”.

They hope to tell the meeting when permission for fracking was sought by Origin Energy, they did not fully understand the company’s explanations of processes, or the potential size of developments potentially numbering hundreds of wells.

“The letter that we’re bringing up to Origin, we want that to be recognised, and to be respected for who we are,” Alawa traditional owner Naomi Wilfred said.

The Alawa traditional owner, whose country includes Nutwood Downs in the northern part of Origin Energy’s EP98 permit area, said she is worried about potential environmental impacts if production goes ahead……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-10-16/indigenous-traditional-owners-origin-energy-fracking-consent/10379162

October 16, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory | Leave a comment