Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Supreme Court appeal lodged against Yeelirrie uranium mining approval decision

9/3 /18  The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) and members of the Tjiwarl Native Title group have announced the filing of an appeal against the Supreme Court’s recent decision which upheld the environmental approval for the Yeelirrie uranium mine proposal.

The Supreme Court challenge brought by CCWA and Native Title holders sought to overturn the environmental approval for the mine issued in the final days of the Barnett Government, against the advice of the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and the Minister’s own appeal decision. If it goes ahead, the project will cause the extinction of multiple species unique to the Yeelirrie area.

CCWA Director Piers Verstegen said allowing the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law to go unchallenged would be bad for the environment and bad for democracy.

“The decision to appeal this judgement highlights our commitment to preventing extinction and upholding what we believe are fundamental principles of environmental law.

“If this decision is allowed to stand then the Environment Minister could sign off on the extinction of multiple species with the stroke of a pen, despite what the EPA and appeals processes say.

“According to the Supreme Court ruling, we can have a detailed, thorough, publicly funded environmental assessment process, with all the key information examined in the public domain, followed by a rigorous appeals process, and then the Minister can totally disregard that whole process and make a different decision based on different information that is not available to the public.

“This treats the EPA and its environmental assessment as something to be casually dismissed. Western Australians expect and deserve better government than that.

“CCWA and community groups fought for WA’s environmental protection laws and the EPA. Now, it is again up to community to defend the integrity of those laws and processes in the courts. This is essential to uphold due process in environmental decisions, and to restore confidence in the EPA.

“The WA Environmental Protection Act was never intended to be used to sanction the extinction of wildlife, and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that it is not used in this way.

“The Yeelirrie approval knowingly allows extinction of multiple species and this should never be contemplated. We must stand up for all creatures, great and small.

“Allowing the extinction of any creature could open the door for other species to be treated in the same way.  Numbats, cockatoos and other wildlife could be next, so we can’t allow it to start here.”

Vicky Abdullah, Tjiwarl Native Title Holder, said, “We have fought long and hard to protect Yeelirrie and to stop the uranium project, so we will not stop now.

 “This appeal shows that we will continue to fight for our country and our people, and hope that the Court of Appeal will see that the decision to approve the Yeelirrie uranium project was wrong”. 

 

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March 14, 2018 Posted by | legal, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Yeelirree uranium project Court decision – “a bad decision, but not the end decision”

‘Sad day for our people, our land’: Appeal fails against Yeelirrie uranium mine in WA’s Mid West, http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/sad-day-for-our-people-our-land-appeal-fails-against-yeelirrie-uranium-mine-in-was-mid-west-20180208-h0vrpr.html

Conservationists and Tjiwarl traditional owners will continue to fight the approval for a uranium mine in central WA despite losing a Supreme Court appeal.

Former state environment minister Albert Jacob gave the green light to Cameco’s Yeelirrie mine proposal in January last year, just 16 days before the pre- election caretaker mode began.

The Conservation Council of WA and traditional owners fear unique subterranean fauna in the area will be made extinct if the project proceeds.

Chief Justice Wayne Martin determined on Thursday that the appeal against the ministerial decision should be dismissed. Costs will be determined at a later date.

 CCWA executive director Piers Verstegen told reporters outside court the decision was disappointing but only a setback for their battle.  “It’s absolutely not the end of the road for Yeelirrie or the other uranium mines that are being strongly contested here in Western Australia,” he said.

Tjiwarl native title holder Vicky Abdullah said the court case was only part of the campaign . “This is a very disappointing and sad day for our people, our land, and our future,” she said. “We have fought long and hard to protect Yeelirrie and stop the uranium project. “It’s a bad decision, but it’s not the end decision.”

The ministerial endorsement was subject to 17 conditions, including the Canadian company undertaking further surveys and research into stygofauna and troglofauna to minimise impacts on the tiny underground creatures.

Mr Verstegen said he always knew the appeal would result in either the uranium approval being ruled invalid or the environmental laws being exposed as inadequate.

“Today’s ruling shows that indeed our environmental laws are deeply inadequate,” he said.

There is still a federal decision pending, with the WA appeal delaying the process by months.

“It is now up to the commonwealth government to take a rigorous approach to the environmental assessment of this project rather than just relying on the shonky assessment that was done under the Barnett government,” Mr Verstegen said.

“We call on the federal government not to approve extinction at Yeelirrie.”

Mr Verstegen said advice would be sought on whether further legal action was possible. Regarding costs, he said lawyers would argue it was a public interest case and they should not have to bear the full costs.

February 9, 2018 Posted by | legal, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia nuclear waste enthusiast Glenn Baker shows his ignorance of the real purpose of nuclear dump

Is Mr Baker ignorant, or disingenuous?

In his enthusiasm Mr Baker seems unaware that the processed nuclear waste returning from France is classified there as high level waste. The proposed dump for radioactive wastes in outback Australia is obviously intended to store those long-lasting toxic wastes. Australia’s nuclear reactor in Lucas Heights, Sydney produces these dangerous wastes, just the same as any other nuclear reactor.

The Leonora man behind plan for a radioactive waste dump in outback WA, ABC Goldfields ,By Jarrod Lucas, 23 Nov 17,  A mining entrepreneur who came to WA’s northern Goldfields during the 1960s nickel boom is behind a new bid to develop an outback repository to store the nation’s radioactive waste.

The Shire of Leonora this week voted 5-2 in favour of joining forces with a private company, headed by former councillor Glenn Baker, to make a bid for Commonwealth funding to fast-track the project.

The council sought legal advice and waited until after last month’s local government elections before voting on the proposal to store medical, industrial and scientific waste underground.

The proposed site is on Clover Downs pastoral station, about 20 kilometres north-west of Leonora……..

Conflict of interest was a deal breaker for council

Mr Baker is a director of Azark Project Proprietary Limited alongside his business partner, Perth-based corporate lawyer and mining executive Peter Remta, with whom he has developed several gold mining projects since the 1980s.

The 79-year-old was behind a previous proposal for a waste storage site that failed to progress in 2015, and he quit the council last month after more than 30 years because of the conflict of interest.

“Now there is no conflict of interest, but it did come up a few times and I left the meetings on those occasions,” he said………

Residents could be offered shares in waste company

Mr Baker flagged the possibility of Leonora residents eventually being given the opportunity to invest in the company.

He described as “mind-boggling” the funds being dangled by the Federal Government, which has been searching for a site to establish a national radioactive waste management facility for more than a decade……

Sites in South Australia and the Northern Territory have been considered, but lengthy environmental assessments and community consultation mean a final decision is not expected until next year…….

Sites in South Australia and the Northern Territory have been considered, but lengthy environmental assessments and community consultation mean a final decision is not expected until next year……..

Traditional landowner Vicky Abdullah said she had previously organised a petition with 500 signatures opposing the project.

“From my point of view, they can do it somewhere else, not in Leonora,” she said.

Ms Abdullah said the local Indigenous community was yet to be effectively consulted about the revived proposal.

Environmentalists opposed to facility in outback WA

Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney said it was a long way from a “bad council decision” to a national radioactive waste dump in outback WA.

“It is pretty much radioactive groundhog day,” he said.

“It’s come up before in Leonora, and there was a strong and negative response from many there in the community.

“I’m obviously disappointed Leonora has put itself back in this frame, because it’s a divisive place to be.”

Mr Sweeney suggested it would not just be for low-level radioactive material.

“This has nothing to do with nuclear medicine, and everything to do with the operations of the Lucas Heights reactor,” he said.

Mr Baker disputed that point, saying it was one of the misconceptions about what was being proposed.

“People are confused when we talk about radiation … this is not a nuclear waste disposal facility,” he said.

“Australia does not have a nuclear industry, so has no nuclear waste to bury. That’s uranium 235 which is used in atomic bombs, powerhouses etc.

“This is another isotope of uranium and has a much shorter decay life, some of it only a matter of months, and it’s not to be confused with nuclear-powered radiation like Chernobyl and Fukushima.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-23/leonora-man-behind-plan-for-radioactive-waste-dump-in-outback-wa/9184020?pfmredir=sm&amp%3Bsf174104777=1

November 24, 2017 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia: Mulga Rock Uranium Project threatens environmental impacts from Tailings waste:

Briefer (Nov 2017) by David Noonan, Independent Environment Campaigner

Uranium mining has unique, inherent risks and long term impacts. The West Australian Parliament has passed a Motion (Legislative Council 23 May 2012) recommending:

The government adopt equivalent or better environmental management regulatory requirements for any future uranium mine in Western Australia as exists under Commonwealth and Northern Territory legislation for the operation of the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory with regard to the disposal of radioactive tailings, including the requirements that –

(a) The tailings are physically isolated from the environment for at least 10,000 years: and

(b) Any contaminants arising from the tailings do not result in any detrimental environmental impacts for at least 10,000 years.”

The Barnett era WA gov Approval for the Mulga Rock Uranium Project (Dec 2016) fails to comply with required Commonwealth & NT legislative standards or with the WA Parliament recommendation.

There are two types of intended Tailings Storage Facilities (TSF): an Above Ground TSF and multiple Mine Pit TSF’s in 4 areas across 30 km. An “authorised extent of physical and operational elements” (Approval Schedule 1 Table 2) place some limits on Above Ground TSF but no limits on Mine Pit TSF’s:

Initial disposal for no longer than 2 years after commencement of mining operations, in the above ground TSF labelled on Figure 2. After this time, all disposal must be in the mine pits”;

Disposal of no more than 3 Mtpa of beneficiation rejects and no more than 2 Mtpa of post-leaching tailings material”, within an Above Ground TSF cleared area of up to 106 ha.

Mine Pit TSF’s are not required to use “best available landform modelling over 10 000 years post mine closure” or to try to meet a safety outcome that is applied to the Above Ground TSF disposal:

Condition 16 (1) ensure that the above ground TSF is safe to members of the public and non-human biota, geo-technically and geo-morphologically, and geo-chemically non-polluting.”

Condition 15-1 allows for a plume of tailings seepage and contaminants to move in groundwater:

The proponent shall manage the design and maintenance of all TSF’s to … ensure that the tailings plume is within background groundwater concentrations at the M39/1080 lease boundary”.

The TSF Monitoring and Management Plan (C 15-3) provides for the proponent: “to manage impacts on groundwater quality including from seepage of contaminants into the groundwater and/or soil”.

Conditions 12 & 14 only seek to “minimise impacts” on Inland Waters, on groundwater, and impacts on water quality, including: “Acid and Metalliferous Drainage from seepage into groundwater”.

A number of Management Plans relevant to TSF’s, Groundwater & Environment issues are required: “prior to substantial commencement of the proposal or as otherwise agreed in writing by the CEO” (Conditions 6-1 & 7-1). These Plans require the approval of the CEO Depart of Environment. 2

Barnett era WA gov Uranium Approvals fail to protect Aboriginal Heritage sites:

Redress is required to WA Uranium Approvals authorisation of impacts to Aboriginal Heritage in favour of mining vested interests and irrespective of cultural & heritage values. Aboriginal people should have rights to Free, Prior and Informed Consent over any WA uranium mine proposal.

The WA Approval to the Mulga Rock Uranium Project (Condition 11-1 Aboriginal Heritage) authorises impacts to registered Aboriginal Heritage sites and to “unregistered sites”, with a weak objective to only minimise impacts on heritage sites rather than to properly protect sites and avoid impacts:

  1. minimise impacts as far as practical to registered sites DAA 1985 and DAA 1986 and unregistered sites.”

An Aboriginal Heritage Management Plan is required to be approved “prior to ground disturbing activities being undertaken” with decision powers held by the CEO of the Depart of Environment.

Flawed Federal Uranium Approval fails to mention Aboriginal Heritage or Tailings issues:

The Federal Approval to the Mulga Rock Uranium Project (02 March 2017, Minister Josh Frydenberg MP) inexplicably fails to mention Aboriginal Heritage or regulation of uranium mine radioactive tailings. These are unacceptable omissions of key Federal EPBC Act responsibilities to protect the environment from nuclear actions. The Federal ALP should commit to address this Liberal failure.

WA Approval Conditions require a “Compliance Assessment Plan” by May 2018:

WA Approval Condition 4 “Compliance Reporting” requires the proponent submit a “Compliance Assessment Plan” by May 2018, to the satisfaction of CEO Depart of Environment. This will test the new ALP State gov: acquiesce to uranium mining or require robust Plans to protect the environment.

Further, the CEO has a power under Condition 5 to require release of all validated environmental data relevant to assessment of the Mulga Rock Project “within a reasonable time period approved by the CEO”. These data sets should be made public ASAP and well prior to any Project commencement.

marginal Uranium Project risks a pristine Priority Ecological Community:

The Mulga Rock Uranium Project site is entirely inside the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community and upstream from the Queens Victoria Springs ‘A Class Nature Reserve’. The project poses a serious long term risk to a listed ‘pristine’ area through production of approx. 32 million tonnes of radioactive tailings and seepage of wastes that require isolation for over 10 000 years.

The Bulletin Magazine (Oct 2016) reports capital costs for Mulga Rock processing and mining infrastructure and indirect costs at over A$360 million, with a planned annual production of uranium oxide concentrate at (only) 1,350 tonnes over a mine life of 16 years. A ‘break even’ Uranium Price for Mulga Rock has been estimated at US$50 per pound. Steve Kidd a former senior official of the World Nuclear Association writes in NEI Magazine (Sept 2017) that: “…uranium prices are set to remain in the US$20’s per pound for a long time, maybe throughout the whole of the 2020’s.

For further info see: www.ccwa.org.au/nuclearfreewa and www.ccwa.org.au/mulga_rocks 

November 18, 2017 Posted by | environment, legal, reference, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia: SUPREME COURT JUDICIAL REVIEW OF ENVIRONMENTAL APPROVAL for YEELIRRIE URANIUM MINE

DATE                     Thursday 16th November

TIME                      9.30am

LOCATION           Supreme Court of WA

David Malcolm Justice Centre
28 Barrack StreetPERTH WA 6000

 The Supreme Court of WA will commence proceedings to review the environmental approval for the Yeelirrie Uranium mine proposal, brought by the Conservation Council of Western Australia and Traditional Owners.

 

November 15, 2017 Posted by | legal, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australia lagging on climate change action: Western Australia to experience extreme weather

Climate Council report says WA is suffering impacts of warming world as Australia falls further behind on climate change https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/climate-council-report-says-wa-is-suffering-impacts-of-warming-world-as-australia-falls-further-behind-on-climate-change-ng-b88652279z  Shane Wright, Economics EditorAustralia is now falling well behind the rest of the world in dealing with climate change, a report out today shows, with WA in the firing line from some of the worst impacts of a warming world.

The report from the Climate Council shows that greenhouse gas emissions in Australia resumed climbing in March 2015, with the country at a substantial risk of failing to meet its generous targets under the Paris Agreement.

This week, the World Meteorological Association said that this year was on track to be the third hottest on record and the hottest year not to be affected by an El Nino weather pattern.

According to the Climate Council, the window of opportunity to limit runaway temperature increases through the rest of the century was closing, with political inaction mostly to blame.

Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie said the Federal Government was clearly failing to deal with climate change given the increase in greenhouse gas emissions on its watch.

She said the Government’s planned National Energy Guarantee would also not lead to reductions in greenhouse emissions. “This is a critical warning that the window of opportunity for the Federal Government to tackle climate change is closing,” she said.

“The vague offering of a National Energy Guarantee will not seriously deal with Australia’s climbing pollution levels. Australia cannot accept anything less than a long-term, bipartisan policy framework that turns away from fossil fuels, and embraces the inevitable clean energy future.”

The council’s report said parts of WA were clearly suffering from the impact of climate change which had resulted in a sharp increase since the middle of last century in the number of hot days and extremely hot days.

Apart from killing an increasing number of Australians, extreme weather had hit WA wildlife, with the deaths of thousands of zebra finches, budgerigars and Carnaby’s black cockatoos tied to heatwaves in 2009 and 2010.

The council said apart from the direct impact on the environment, climate change would pose a risk to Australia’s tourism sector.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Does Western Australia need its own renewables target?

National Energy Plan: Does WA need its own renewables target?, ABC, By Nicolas Perpitch, 19 Oct 17 The Federal Government’s flagship new energy plan was signed off by the Coalition partyroom this week with great fanfare — but there’s growing uncertainty about what it means for WA.

The McGowan Government has not yet received a briefing on the national energy guarantee (NEG) policy, which is designed to operate through the National Energy Market.

WA is not a part of this market.

The new policy will see the Clean Energy Target and subsidies for renewables cut in 2020, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says there will be an opportunity to import the principles of the new system into the WA market.

While the general consensus — including from Energy Minister Ben Wyatt — is that there will be no immediate impact on WA, some in the state’s energy sector are concerned.

Solar ‘may still need boost’

Solar panel distributor and managing director of BayWA Renewable Energy Durmus Yildiz said the Government had not considered whether the fledgling solar industry was able to compete with other providers………

Energy Minister Ben Wyatt  has already flagged the possibility of WA following other states and setting its own renewable energy target (RET) once the Clean Energy Target is cut.

Sustainability Energy Now WA chairman Ian Porter said such a move would provide certainty to the market.

“It provides an indication to investors that their policies are favourable to ‘x’ amount of generation being put into the system via renewables,” Mr Porter said. “It provides certainty. Investors want certainty. People know then the target is set and they can bid for it.”

Murdoch University Engineering and Information Technology School lecturer Tania Urmee said it would replace lost federal incentives.

“The cost of renewable energy technology is going down, so if the states have their own policy and their own trigger for renewable energy, that will be really good,” Dr Urmee said.

“And I think that keeps (investment) going.”…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-19/energy-reform-explainer-how-will-it-affect-wa/9065974

October 19, 2017 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Aboriginal massacre sites uncovered  in first forensic science study

~ ABC Kimberley  By Erin Parke www.abc.net.au/news/erin-parke/4421154       http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-01/forensic-science-study-seeks-truth-of-aboriginal-massacres/9001770
‘Cutting edge forensic science techniques have been used in a fresh examination of reported Aboriginal massacre sites in WA’s north,  in an effort to prove alleged atrocities from 100 years ago.

Warning: This story contains the images of Aboriginal people who aredeceased.

‘A team of archaeologists and forensic scientists travelled to some of the most remote spots in WA
to examine bone fragments found at the sites,  which have been mired in historical and political debate for decades.

Lead researcher Pam Smith said that while some of the results were inconclusive,  the findings of the most advanced study of the alleged 1922 Sturt Massacre  had backed up the oral histories of local Aboriginal elders. … ‘

October 2, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Aboriginal women’s long walk to stop uranium mining in Western Australia

‘Walkabout’ protesters get their day in court to fight uranium mining in WA http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/walkabout-protesters-get-their-day-in-court-to-fight-uranium-mining-in-wa-20170831-gy82w9.html, David Allan-Petale, 31 Aug 17, 

A group of indigenous women have completed a month long ‘walkabout protest’ against uranium mining in Western Australia that saw them travel on foot through remote lands being considered as mine sites.

The protest was kindled by the WA government’s move in June to allow four uranium projects previously granted environmental approval to proceed, whilst blocking any future mining bids.

Toro Energy’s Wiluna project, Vimy Resources’ Mulga Rock project, and Cameco’s Kintyre and Yeelirrie projects all had the approval before Labor won the March election.

Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said Labor, which banned uranium mining when last in power between 2002 and 2008, had received advice it could not legally deny secondary approvals for the purpose of frustrating those already granted.

“In making this decision, the McGowan government has carefully considered the potential liability risk for WA taxpayers,” Mr Johnston said.

 But the government’s wider view is not shared by the Yeelirrie Traditional Owners group, whose lands they believe are under threat from any mine that’s pushed through.

The Conservation Council of WA is part of a legal challenge against a proposal by the Canadian uranium company Cameco to develop a uranium mine at Yeelirrie, 70 kilometres south-west of Wiluna in the northern Goldfields.

Shirley Wonyabong, Elizabeth Wonyabong, and Vicky Abdullah from the Walkatjurra Walkabout against uranium mining protest are part of this legal challenge, and they started their walking protest to highlight their struggle against it.

“Yeelirrie is important to my family. We have fought to protect this site for over 40 years and we won’t stop now,” Vicky Abdullah said.

“I grew up here, my ancestors were Traditional Owners of country, and I don’t want a toxic legacy here for my grandchildren.

“We have no choice but to defend our country, our culture, and the environment from the threat of uranium mining – not just for us but for everyone.

“The last government made a mistake approving the Yeelirrie mine – now we have a chance to make that right through the courts.”

The women were joined by fifty other people from around the world who wanted to join the protest, which saw the group walk through traditional lands, including Yeelirrie.

They finished the walkbout on Thursday, and were told by supporters that the Supreme Court will hear an application for Judicial Review of uranium mine proposal on November 14.

September 1, 2017 Posted by | Opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia Shire of Leonora keen to make money by hosting radioactive trash

Leonora lobbies for nuclear waste dump in its backyard     ABC Goldfields  By Jarrod Lucas  18 Aug 17 Leonora in WA’s northern Goldfields is putting together a bid for an outback repository to store radioactive waste.

The Federal Government’s decade-long search for a national radioactive waste management facility appears far from over.

This has provided a window of opportunity for the Shire of Leonora to press its case again to host a national repository for waste arising from medical, industrial and scientific use.

Leonora looked to have missed its chance in November 2015 when it was left off a short-list of six sites, five of which have since been ruled out by the government.

On that occasion, the Shire put together a last-minute bid, nominating about 81 hectares of freehold land owned by Councillor Glenn Baker.

An application for an exploration license for a new site, north-west of Leonora, is currently being assessed by multiple State Government departments.

Shire of Leonora president Peter Craig conceded there were no guarantees the new site would receive state approval.

But he said the Council believed the waste dump was an opportunity worth pursuing.

“It’s a long-term prospect – we’re certainly putting ourselves out there there’s no doubt about that,” Mr Craig said.  “We feel going forward there’s a lot of opportunities, money to be made.”

….He said the repository would be built underground and the Goldfields mining industry is perfectly placed to build it.

“We’re probably going to have some opposition from the State Government I would imagine, but at the end of the day, the Federal government would more than likely overrule it if the land is in a location which is suitable.”……   http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-18/remote-wa-town-wants-radioactive-waste-dump-in-its-backyard/8821240

August 25, 2017 Posted by | Federal nuclear waste dump, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s boom in lithium mining

Car industry revolution fuels Western Australia’s lithium boom, ABC News, By Kathryn Diss, 29 July 17, Electric cars are driving rapid mining investment in WA, with the state supplying most of the lithium needed to manufacture batteries worldwide.

Most electric vehicles (EVs) use lithium-ion batteries, the same technology which powers smartphones, tablets and laptops.

As car makers around the globe race to meet new EV targets, demand for batteries has driven lithium exports from WA as the state now produces more than half of the world’s supply.

Global leaders have been behind the push, with new European emissions legislation forcing car markers to increase their targets and France recently announcing it wanted to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

It joins similar targets set by India (2030) and Norway (2025).

The British Government is also set to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 as part of a plan to clean up air pollution.

Growth in demand ‘surprised most analysts’

Batteries to store household solar power, which would allow consumers to disconnect from the electricity grid, are also driving demand to a lesser extent.

“The speed at which demand has grown for lithium carbonate equivalent has surprised most analysts, ourselves included,” Katana Asset Management’s Romano Sala Tenna said.

“Up until a few months ago the conventional thinking was by about 2025, we would need about 330,000 tonnes per annum of lithium carbonate, [but] based on recent announcements from larger automobile manufacturers, we are now thinking we will need at least double that — about 600,000 tonnes per annum.”

While that may sound small compared to the 800 million tonnes the state’s iron ore industry exports each year, the activity in the sector is already creating thousands of new jobs and generating millions in royalties for the cash-strapped WA Government.

The Greenbushes mine in the state’s South West, which is part owned by China’s Tianqi Lithium and America’s Albemarle, is one of the world’s largest lithium producers and is undergoing an expansion to double production.

The mine has seen both boom and bust since starting out as a tin operation in 1888, but is now on the cusp of another upswing — laying claim to what was considered the world’s highest grade lithium deposit.

“It is the longest continuously running mine in Western Australia and it’s on its third product. It just seems to keep producing new life,” Tianqi Lithium general manager Phil Thick said.

“Lithium is obviously a game changer for that mine. It’s been significant as a tin and tantalum mine, but lithium value is substantial.”

The joint venture is also building what it claims to be the biggest lithium processing plant in the world in Kwinana south of Perth. The project will cost $400 million and create 500 construction jobs.

‘More than just a mini-boom’

Growth in the sector has been rapid.

In January, the state had just one mine producing lithium — it now has four and exports have jumped six-fold.

Business observer Tim Treadgold has witnessed big changes in WA’s mining landscape during his 40 years commentating on the sector.

“This is more than just a mini-boom, this is the real McCoy, we could go from one [mine] two years ago to eight by this time next year. It really has been quite remarkable what’s going on,” he said.

Activity in the sector is attracting big names including Chilean major Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM) which has inked a deal to bankroll a new deposit in the Goldfields with Kidman Resources.

It includes plans to build a $100 million refinery at either Bunbury, Perth or Kalgoorlie.

The deal was announced just days after Kidman won a Supreme Court battle against another miner to maintain control of the mine.

“The world has beaten a path to our door. The arrival of SQM was a real wakeup call that the world wants it and it’s coming here and it’s prepared to pay for it,” Mr Treadgold said……….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-29/car-industy-lithium-revolution-driving-next-mining-boom-in-wa/8748322

July 30, 2017 Posted by | rare earths, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Aboriginal group’s claim against Western Australia Conservation Council over uranium mining

Traditional owners hit out at WA Conservation Council for alleged misrepresentation over uranium campaign http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-28/traditional-owners-hit-out-wa-conservation-council-on-uranium/8751926  ABC Goldfields By Jarrod Lucas An Aboriginal corporation representing traditional owners in WA’s northern Goldfields claims an environmental group has misrepresented it by suggesting it supports legal action against a proposed uranium mine.

The Conservation Council of WA launched Supreme Court action earlier this month to challenge the Barnett Government’s decision to approve Cameco’s proposed mine at Yeelirrie, 1,079km north east of Perth.

The council maintains it has the support of members of the Tjiwarl people, the native title holders over the Yeelirrie area, in pursuing the action.

But the Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation said they do not speak for its 150-odd members or 10 directors, who represent each of the area’s different family groups.

A spokesman for the Tjiwarl group told the ABC it is yet to formally adopt a policy on uranium mining or the Yeelirriee court case — although that could change as soon as September when the directors meet in Leinster.

“Any decision about this project needs to be made by Tjiwarl (Aboriginal Corporation) in accordance with our traditional laws and customs,” the corporation said in a statement.

“Until such time, we ask that media outlets, and the Conservation Council of WA, refrain from referring to Tjiwarl (Aboriginal Corporation) as supporting this legal proceeding.”

The spokesman said the group had received significant backlash on social media, due to its perceived involvement in the action.

Conservation Council denies misrepresenting group

Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen denied they ever misrepresented the Aboriginal corporation.

“We haven’t linked them to the case, there’s certain members of that claim group that are part of the case, but we haven’t linked the body corporate to the case and I’m not sure where they’re getting that information from,” Mr Verstegen said.

“We haven’t made any linkage between their claim group and the case — it’s just individuals who are part of that claim group who are part of the case.”

Vicky Abdullah, whose family has opposed uranium mining at Yeelirrie for more than 40 years, is one of three traditional owners who are backing the Conservation Council’s legal action.

“Yeelirrie is important to my family; we have fought to protect this site and we won’t stop now,” Ms Abdullah said.

A crowdfunding page set up by the 47-year-old not-for-profit group seeking to raise $50,000 to fund the court case also mentions the traditional owners.

At last count the page had raised more than $9,800.

Uranium mine a challenging call for traditional owners

The Tjiwarl claim was officially recognised by the Federal Court in April, with the long legal fight seeing the group’s 13,000 square kilometres of land between the towns of Wiluna and Leonora officially acknowledged.

It has sparked a flurry of negotiations with Cameco and fellow mining giants BHP and Gold Fields, both of which have operating mines in the area.

But as WA’s biggest uranium deposit, Yeelirrie remains the area’s most controversial potential development.

Discovered by Western Mining Corporation in 1972, the deposit was sold to Cameco by BHP for $US430 million in 2012.

The mine takes its name from a nearby pastoral station, which in turn took its name from the traditional word for the area.

Opponents of the mine say the name translates to “place of death”, but others have suggested “lethargy” or “fatigue” are better translations.

The mine is one of four proposed uranium mines the McGowan Government will allow to proceed, despite reinstating a ban on any further development or exploration in Western Australia.

The Tjiwarl spokesman said the group would likely formalise its position on uranium mining when the corporation’s directors meet in September.

July 29, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia Walkabout against uranium -month-long pilgrimage from Wiluna to Leonora

 https://thewest.com.au/news/kalgoorlie-miner/walkabout-against-uranium-ng-b88547279z, , 26 July 2017 A month-long pilgrimage from Wiluna to Leonora to campaign against uranium mining will begin next month in the wake of the State Government’s approval of four proposed uranium mines earlier this year.

Program co-ordinator Marcus Atkinson said the seventh annual Walkatjurra Walkabout will see 50 to 60 participants walk 10km to 15km a day while connecting with land and culture and supporting the sovereign rights of Aboriginal people to protect their lands and support a nuclear-free future.

Mr Atkinson said considering the Government’s recent decision, this year’s walk was particularly pertinent.

“We want to stop uranium mining and connect with country and culture,” he said.

“It is about supporting traditional owners to show that people from all over the country and the world are standing with them.”

One of the mines, the Yeelirrie uranium project, was approved against the recommendation of the Environmental Protection Authority which said mining would lead to the extinction of several unique species of subterranean fauna.

The Conservation Council of WA and members of the Tjiwarl native title group have taken Supreme Court action against the Yeerlirrie project.

CCWA director Piers Verstegen cited environmental, economic and social concerns over the approval of the mine.

He said environment groups could not allow any project that would knowingly cause the extinction of unique species to go unchallenged, given the precedent it would set.

Mr Atkinson said the walk, which is quite a significant undertaking, was the most effective way of acknowledging the importance of the land. “Often we bring traditional owners to Perth to speak about the significance of the land, but those words and stories are so much more powerful when you are out on the country,” he said.

“It emphasises the fact that this isn’t a place in the middle of nowhere and it is worth saving.

“We need to take a step back and make a decision which is best for WA, not a handful of multinational companies.”

The Walkatjurra Walkabout begins in Kalgoorlie on August 8.

To register to be a part of the walk or for more information, visit walkingforcountry.com.

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Energy news from REneweconomy

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June 30, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Strong union opposition to uranium mining in Western Australia

Union ‘showdown’ looming over U-deal, West Australian , , 21 June 2017, One of WA Labor’s most influential unions is promising a “showdown” at the party’s State conference over Mark McGowan’s decision to allow a raft of uranium mining projects to go ahead.

Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union State secretary Steve McCartney yesterday condemned as “weak” and “disappointing” the Government’s announcement it would not block four uranium mining proposals.

The projects — Cameco’s Yeelirrie and Kintyre, Toro Energy’s Wiluna extension and Vimy Resources’ Mulga Rock — were all granted environmental approval by the previous government.

Mr McCartney vowed the AMWU would draw up a motion against the decision for Labor’s State conference in August, the key policy-setting body for the party. He said it was unacceptable the Government would allow the exploitation of radioactive material and the union would be seeking to “support and stiffen” the party’s anti-uranium position.

“The last thing we want is to be the glowing State,” Mr McCartney said.

“We have the strongest policy in the country and we believe the general feedback and phone calls we’re getting is that there will be a showdown at conference about it.

“I know that people are very upset about the fact that we’re going to be out there saying ‘Hello, you can dig up uranium’.”

The warning from the AMWU came as the Conservation Council of WA flagged a court challenge to the validity of the four projects’ environmental approvals.

Conservation Council nuclear campaigner Mia Pepper said the group was “looking at all legal avenues and options”…..https://thewest.com.au/politics/state-politics/union-showdown-looming-over-u-deal-ng-b88513503z

June 23, 2017 Posted by | Opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment