Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Mirrar people at last have control of Jabiru, as Ranger uranium mining set to end operations

   Traditional owners regain control of Jabiru as historic land rights law passes Senate Natasha Emeck, NT News, 3 Sept 20 HISTORIC land rights legislation that will allow the traditional owners of Jabiru to regain control of their township has passed through the Senate.

Amendments to Aboriginal land rights laws passed through the upper house of federal parliament pm Thursday, returning the ownership of Jabiru to the Mirarr people and allowing for a long-term township lease.

The mining town was built in 1982 to service the Ranger uranium mine, which will cease operation in January 2021, heralding a new era for the town and surrounding Kakadu National Park.

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said today’s historic moment had been a “long time coming” for the Mirarr people, who had been campaigning for this for 20 years.

Senior Mirarr traditional owner and Kakadu resident Yvonne Margarula, pictured in Kakadu National Park.

Mirarr senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula said her people were glad to see the legal changes finally happen.

They are essential to ensuring the vibrant post-mining future of Jabiru and the Kakadu region that Mirarr have been planning for,” she said.

We look forward to welcoming visitors from all around the world to our beautiful country.”

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, who represents the Mirarr traditional owners, have crafted a masterplan to turn Jabiru into an Indigenous-led tourism and services town.

This bipartisan change to the legislation is an essential step to correct the historical exclusion of the town of Jabiru from Aboriginal ownership and allow Mirarr to take the legal control they need to enact their vision,” chief executive Justin O’Brien said.

 

September 3, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Remote community loses their court fight to get uranium-free drinking water

Residents of remote NT community of Laramba lose legal battle over uranium in water, ABC News, By Katrina Beavan and Henry Zwartz  15 July 20, 

Residents of the remote central Australian community of Laramba have lost a case against the Northern Territory Government over high levels of uranium in their drinking water.

Key points:

  • The tribunal ruled drinking water uranium levels were not the housing department’s responsibility
  • The residents were seeking compensation over the contamination and also tap filters to bring their water in line with guidelines
  • The tribunal has called for further submissions relating to claims about housing conditions and repairs

Data compiled by the NT’s Power and Water Corporation had shown there were 0.046 milligrams of uranium per litre (mg/L) in the town’s water supply — close to three times the level recommended in national guidelines.

According to Australia’s national guideline, published by the National Health and Medical Council, uranium levels in drinking water should not exceed 0.017 milligrams per litre.

Residents of Laramba, north-west of Alice Springs, lodged a legal case against the landlord, which in this case is the NT’s Department of Housing.

The case was submitted to the NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) in November last year, highlighting problems with not only residents’ drinking water but also housing repairs and conditions in the town.

Residents sought compensation over the uranium contamination and also asked for a filter system on at least one tap in their household kitchens to bring uranium levels in line within Australia’s drinking water guidelines.

But in the NTCAT’s ruling against the residents, the tribunal member Mark O’Reilly said the uranium in the water was not the responsibility of the landlord.

“In my view the landlord’s obligation for habitability is limited to the premises themselves,” the decision read…….

Appeal of NTCAT decision ‘likely’

Daniel Kelly, lawyer assisting for Australian Lawyers for Remote Aboriginal Rights said the result was disappointing and an appeal was likely.

“We’re in the process of speaking to our clients, but our view is — and the views that we’ve been able to garner from our clients are — that we should seek to have this decision reviewed,” Mr Kelly said.

“The decision leaves the question well who is responsible? Because these people have been exposed to uranium in the drinking water for over 10 years.”

“The Department of Housing is doing nothing about it, Power and Water is doing nothing about it and the Northern Territory Government is doing nothing about it.”

In a statement to the ABC, the NT Department of Housing said it would not be providing comment as proceedings were ongoing.

In relation to the rest of the Laramba case, involving housing conditions and repairs, the tribunal has called for further submissions.  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-14/nt-community-laramba-lose-legal-battle-over-uranium-in-water/12454206?fbclid=IwAR2Vb6AHk4MlypQI-_s8MMuWSLFCVQOViknD4nXc52RY4-i5NyA767hOHYk

July 16, 2020 Posted by | legal, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

ERA’s focus is now on rehabilitating the Ranger uranium mine site.

ERA, operator of Jabiru’s Ranger uranium mine, has held its last AGM as shutdown date looms

The company behind a contentious uranium mine in Jabiru has held its final AGM before production grinds to a halt, telling shareholders its focus is now on rehabilitating the site.

MADURA MCCORMACK, NT News, 31 May 20 https://www.ntnews.com.au/business/era-operator-of-jabirus-ranger-uranium-mine-has-held-its-last-agm-as-shutdown-date-looms/news-story/ad7601dd3ed45def1a63d8286e4b1b6c

THE company behind a contentious uranium mine in Jabiru has held its final annual general meeting before production grinds to a halt, telling shareholders its focus is now on the “successful rehabilitation” of the site. Energy Resources Australia, which has run the Ranger uranium mine since 1980, has seven months left to process remaining ore before it is legally required to shut down the site and commence a rigorous five-year rehabilitation program.Mining giant Rio Tinto, which this week made headlines for legally blasting an ancient Aboriginal heritage site in WA to expand a mine, owns a controlling 86.3 per cent stake in ERA. ERA chief executive Paul Arnold told shareholders on Friday the company had spent $92 million rehabilitating the mine in 2019, made $6 million in profit after tax, and $210 million from the sale of uranium oxide. In February, ERA finalised an offer from Rio Tinto to tip $476 million toward mine rehabilitation obligations in return for a larger shareholding slice, a deal that prevented ERA from collapsing financially.

“Expenditure on rehabilitation will only increase in coming years and this is a major Northern Territory project in its own right,” chairman Peter Mansell said in his address to shareholders. “The strategic priority for ERA now is the successful rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area.”

Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney said the rehabilitation standard set for Ranger mine was one “never previously attempted or achieved”, warning mining giant Rio Tinto and ERA that all eyes were on them to get this right. “The challenge is how to rehabilitate the heavily affected mine site and larger Ranger Project Area in a way that reduces adverse impacts and provides confidence that the living and peopled landscape of Kakadu is well protected, now and into the future,” Mr Sweeney said.

Rehabilitation of the mine must conclude in January 2026 and, according to ERA, it will include treating more than 16.5 gigalitres of water and planting 1.1 million trees on site.

June 1, 2020 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Australian govt and ERA squabble over monitoring of Ranger uranium clean-up

May 19, 2020 Posted by | Northern Territory, politics, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Study finds that New South Wales rivers, lakes and lagoons are warming twice as fast as ocean

April 16, 2020 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Northern Territory | Leave a comment

Uranium prospects poor, but Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt and Northern Land Council agree on a new mine

January 27, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, uranium | 1 Comment

Rio Tinto appeals Takeovers Panel decision on uranium miner ERA

Rio Tinto appeals Takeovers Panel decision on uranium miner ERA, THE AUSTRALIAN,    NICK EVANS, RESOURCE WRITER, 13 Dec 19, 

Rio Tinto has appealed a Takeovers Panel decision preventing it from taking complete control of uranium miner ERA, as the fallout from the company’s hard-ball tactics to fund the clean-up of the Ranger uranium mine continues.

The Takeovers Panel handed dissident ERA investor Richard Magides a moral victory on Wednesday, declaring ERA’s decision to accept a Rio offer to underwrite a $476m equity issue was made in “unacceptable circumstances”…...(subscribers only)

 

December 13, 2019 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

How are Australian States progressing on renewable energy? South Australia way ahead

South Australia leading the nation in renewable energy,  https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2019/11/25/renewable-energy-winners/    Samantha Dick

South Australia is shifting to renewable energy faster than any other state or territory.

This is despite the federal government’s “lack of leadership” and continued support for major fossil fuel projects, says the Climate Council.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | energy, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia | Leave a comment

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.

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