Australian news, and some related international items

WALKATJURRA WALKABOUT continue the fight to stop uranium mining

handsoffWalkatjurra Walkabout – Walking for Country

will be lead by the

Walkatjurra Rangers

in partnership with

Footprints for Peace

Western Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (WANFA)

the Anti Nuclear Alliance of Western Australia (ANAWA) and

the Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA)

Wiluna to Leonora from August 7th – September 7th 2016

Muir,-Kado‘WALKATJURRA WALKABOUT is a celebration of Wangkatja country, a testament to the

strength of the community who have fought to stop uranium mining at Yeelirrie for over forty years, and a chance to come together to continue share our commitment to a sustainable future without nuclear.

It is a chance to reconnect with the land, and to revive the tradition of walking for country.’

‘We invite all people, from all places, to come together to walk with us, to send a clear message

that we want the environment here, and our sacred places left alone.’ Kado Muir, Traditional Owner, Yeelirrie

July 30, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, opposition to nuclear, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Tarlka Matuwa Piarku Aboriginal Corporation signs agreement with uranium company Toro

Toro signs native title deal for Wiluna, Yahoo News Jarrod Lucas, Kalgoorlie – The West Australian on July 7, 2016   Uranium hopeful Toro Energy has signed a native title agreement with the traditional owners of its proposed Wiluna mine.

It comes as Toro waits on the Environmental Protection Authority’s verdict on Wiluna after a three-month public review process was completed in February.

Wiluna is one of three Goldfields uranium projects — alongside Vimy Resources’ Mulga Rock project and WA’s biggest deposit, the Cameco- owned Yeelirrie — which are awaiting EPA approval.

The agreement with the Tarlka Matuwa Piarku Aboriginal Corporation, the native title holding body of the Wiluna people, recognises opportunities for a range of business and employment initiatives.

Toro’s managing director Vanessa Guthrie said the agreement was reached after more than seven years of relationship building with the Wiluna people……….

In July 2013 the Federal Court determined their native claim over almost 48,000sqkm, including the Millipede, Centipede and Lake Way uranium deposits which Toro plans to mine. The Wiluna project also takes in the Lake Maitland deposit, where mining would begin six years into the 20-year project life.There is currently no native title claim over Lake Maitland, but Toro has been engaging with the Barwidgee people who claim an interest.

The Liberal Government overturned a ban on uranium mining in 2008, but WA has not produced a single pound of yellowcake, with prices depressed since the 2011 Japanese tsunami sent the Fukushima plant into multiple meltdowns.

Wiluna became the first mine in WA to win State Government environmental approvals in October 2012 and Toro added Federal approval six months later. But the $35 million acquisition of the Lake Maitland deposit from Mega Uranium in mid-2013 meant Toro went back to the drawing board to win further approvals to add new deposits to the mine plan.

The situation is now delicately poised with Toro, Vimy and Cameco striving to win environmental approval before next year’s State election.

WA Labor remains opposed to the mining and export of uranium, but shadow mines minister Bill Johnston says the party would not over-turn approvals if it wins next year’s State election……….

July 8, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Artist Anohni again joins the fight of Martu people against Western Australian uranium mine

Artist Anohni completes outback trek in fight with Martu people against WA uranium mine, ABC News, By Claire Moodie , 13 June 16  Oscar-nominated transgender musician Anohni has described the proponents of a uranium mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara as “desolate souls” after taking part in a protest march to the site of the proposed project.

Anohni, formerly known as Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, made the comments after joining the Martu people on the 110 kilometre walk from the Parnngurr community to the site of Cameco’s Kintyre project, northeast of Newman. Continue reading

June 15, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Cameco uranium plan faces rocky road

logo WANFA , 11 May 16 Traditional Owners from the regions around the proposed Yeelirrie and Kintyre uranium operations in WA have today sent Cameco shareholders and stakeholders a clear message of opposition to any mining plans. The groups have released a joint statement to coincide with Cameco’s Annual General Meeting being held in Saskatoon, Canada.

Both communities have a long history of opposition to uranium mining plans at Yeelirrie and Kintyre, dating back to early uranium exploration in WA during the 1980’s. Both communities have also attracted the support of environment, social justice, union and health organisations and the state Labor and state and federal Greens parties in their fight against uranium mining.

“You can’t reverse what the old people have said before. We’re going to stop it” said Desmond Taylor, Karlamilyi Traditional Owner. “This is my spiritual birthplace, my dreaming place. Warturarra (the proposed Kintyre mine site) became my spiritual home; the bush food there became my totem. To mine there would take away my spirit and the totem, it will destroy the living things around it, that place would become empty.”

The joint statement is going to the Cameco Board, shareholders and major Canadian investors. It conveys the depth of the contest that company will face should it seek to advance uranium mining.

“Our country is special to us” said Kado Muir, a Yeelirrie Traditional Owner and Senate candidate for the National Party. “I’m not anti-mining I am speaking as a Traditional Owner communicating our view that Cameco and uranium mining are not welcome on our country. Uranium is different to other mining, because the risks remain for thousands of years. It is our responsibility to look after the land for future generations. We will continue to challenge the proposal to mine uranium at Yeelirrie.”

Members of the Parnngurr and Martu community will be walking from through the Karlamilyi National Park to the proposed uranium mine at Kintyre from the 4th – 12th of June in protest to Cameco and Mitsubishi’s uranium mine plans. See community interviews here.

The Walkatjurra Rangers and Yeelirrie Traditional Owners will also be walking in protest to the Yeelirrie uranium mine from the 7th of August – 7th September. This will be the sixth annual walk against uranium mining in the region. See community interviews here.

May 11, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

A solar world first for Perth: solar panels and battery storage on apartment buildings

Apartments set for solar world first  Daniel Mercer – The West Australian on April 13, 2016 Dozens of apartments will be able to use, store and trade power under a world-first trial of micro-grid technology to be unveiled in Perth’s south.

solar on apartment building

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt will today announce the Commonwealth’s green energy fund ARENA has tipped $1 million into a micro-grid project in White Gum Valley.

The $3 million project will have solar panels and batteries installed across four separate apartment developments. It would be up to the strata companies managing the apartment buildings to on-sell the electricity to tenants, rather than State-owned power provider Synergy. The strata companies could sell the electricity cheaper than Synergy or at the same price, currently set at 25.7¢ for every unit of electricity sold. Homes owners and tenants would also be able to trade power to other apartments within the complex during the day and night.

Headed by Curtin University and backed by Western Power, LandCorp, the City of Fremantle and Balance Services Group, the project aims to establish a viable model for the uptake of solar panels on apartment buildings.

Demand for solar panels has exploded across Perth, with more than 170,000 homes installing the systems on their roofs. Apartments, which make up a third of Perth’s housing stock, have been much slower on the uptake.

Curtin University’s Jemma Green said that with battery systems rapidly becoming commercially viable, there was an unprecedented opportunity for apartments to get in on the act.

And she said the implications could be huge, with micro-grids such as White Gum Valley popping up everywhere and transforming the way electricity was generated, transported and sold.

“These kinds of innovations are not only making solar power a viable option for everyone, but potentially reflect the future of power utilities,” Ms Green said.

April 13, 2016 Posted by | solar, storage, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Perth-based Mineral Commodities Limited (MRC) denies role in murder of South African activist

murderflag-S.AfricaAustralian mining company denies role in murder of South African activist
Campaigners claim death of Sikhosiphi Rhadebe is an escalation of violence against opponents of a mine owned by Perth’s Mineral Commodities Limited
, Guardian, , 25 Mar 16  An Australian-owned mining company has denied any link to the murder of an activist leading a campaign against its plans to mine titanium in South Africa.

Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe was gunned down at his home in Xolobeni on South Africa’s Wild Coast on Tuesday, in what fellow activists claimed was an escalation of violence and intimidation against local opponents of a mine owned by Perth-based Mineral Commodities Limited (MRC).

MRC, which has repeatedly denied inciting violence involving its supporters, said it was “in no way implicated in any form whatsoever in this incident”.

Mzamo Dlamini is a fellow activist who believes he is among the “prime targets” on the anti-mining Amadiba crisis committee following Rhadebe’s death.

Despite fearing for his life, Dlamini vowed to continue organising resistance to a project that campaigners said would force the relocation of an estimated 100 households and up to 1,000 people.

“The assassination affects us all,” he said. “There will be more Bazookas long after we have died.”

Six people associated with the mining venture were subject to court orders last May after a clash over land access, during which a TEM director fired a “warning shot” in the air.

Four people, including an alleged employee of another MRC mine at Tormin, are due to face court next month over alleged assault and intimidation, including with firearms, of mining opponents in Xolobeni in December. These allegations are yet to come before a court and there is no suggestion these or any other employees were involved in Rhadebe’s murder……..

Lawyer Henk Smith of the Legal Resources Centre, which has acted for landholders opposing MRC’s Tormin mine, said the killing of Rhadebe, a “principled democrat”, had likely ended the prospect of conciliation meetings between the miner and its opponents.

“I think the company has made a few statements condemning the violence but it comes after the event and the company has never taken any steps to encourage conciliation or mediation or consultation even a meeting,” Smith said.

“In fact the company shies away from meeting the community which as a result, there’ll be little chance of simply starting a process of meetings now.

“The company is in effect refusing to accept that it’s got to negotiate with the community and are relying on an interpretation of the law in South Africa that they must consult affected people about mitigation of environmental impact and their responsibility goes no further.

“For the rest, they’ve got [to] swallow what the company offers.”

April 11, 2016 Posted by | secrets and lies, Western Australia | Leave a comment


logo CCWA

 BY MIA PEPPER MARCH 08, 2016  National and state environment groups have today release an analysis of the proposed Mulga Rock uranium mine, which identifies that the project lies between three fault lines that the proponent failed to adequately disclose.

The confirmation raises serious environmental concerns over land clearing, water consumption, waste management and impacts on rare and endangered species.

The public comment period for the proposal closed today with over 1100 individual submissions calling on the EPA to reject the mine proposal.

Vimy Resources’ proposal for a uranium project at Mulga Rock is in the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community, 250km north east of Kalgoorlie and upstream from the Queen Victoria Springs A Class Nature Reserve.

“Vimy want to take 15 million litres of underground water every day for their uranium operation,” said CCWA nuclear free campaigner Mia Pepper. “This ancient water is sustaining life and supporting this fragile desert ecosystem. Vimy would be voraciously consuming this precious water resource in a bid to extract a product that is unsafe, unnecessary and uneconomic.”

“Vimy are seeking to fast-track approvals for this project before next year’s state election even though the uranium price has flat-lined in the wake of Fukushima”.

The environment groups detailed submission has also identified deficiencies in the plans for the long term containment and management of radioactive mine tailings, including the presence of under reported seismic fault-lines in the proposed tailing dams region. Continue reading

March 27, 2016 Posted by | uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Facts on Western Australia uranium mining proposals

logo CCWAFact File:

  • Since the WA Government lifted the ban on uranium over seven years ago not one uranium proposal has attained final approval to begin mine construction.
  • The recent SA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission preliminary findings found that “significant barriers to the viability of new uranium mine developments in South Australia” including the “current low price of uranium and uncertainty about the timing of any price increases” – a finding with direct relevance for WA
  • Australian uranium production has been in decline since 2009
  • In 2014-2015 the Australian uranium industry employed just 987 people nationally
  • The uranium spot price is currently $32.15
  • Nuclear energy contributes just 4.4% of the global energy mix
  • Renewable energy contributes 6% of the global energy mix with a growth rate of


  • There are 62 reactors under construction worldwide – of these 47 are experiencing construction and commissioning delays.
  • Globally over 130 reactors have operated for over 30 years – nearing their lifespan. 54 of those reactors have operated beyond their designed life span of 40 years. These reactors are required to be decommissioned and the industry will struggle to maintain its shrinking market share.
  • There is no state bi-partisan political support for uranium mining in WA

March 27, 2016 Posted by | uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s largest solar installation at Perth shopping complex

WA’s largest solar installation generating one-third of Perth shopping centre’s power By Kathryn Diss A shopping complex in Perth’s western suburbs is generating one third of its power from the sun after undertaking Western Australia’s largest solar panel installation on its roof.

The Broadway Fair complex has installed 948 solar panels with the capacity to generate 312 kilowatts of power. Broadway Fair general manager Paul Avon-Smith said the move would save the complex about $20,000 a month in power bills, which could be put towards funding capital works.

Solar shoppinbg Centre Perth

“We were looking for soft approach for the cost of doing capital works,” Mr Avon-Smith said. “It gives us an alternative to help cushion rent increases and price rises for our tenant base in a pretty tough market, but allows us to finance crucial capital works. “So that allowed us to do a roof replacement project, plus put the solar in, with there being no upward pressure on our rents for tenants.”

Infinite Energy installed the system at a cost of $600,000.

Managing director Aidan Jenkins said the huge fall in the cost of solar panels in recent years has meant the business model now stacked up for commercial-sized installations. “Solar currently represents the cheapest way to generate electricity, so we will start to see these type of systems become the norm over the next couple of years.”

Government grappling with ‘tsunami’ of solar installations

Large-scale solar installation poses a big challenge for the Government, which currently has too much available power in its network. The rapid uptake of rooftop solar panels has been a big contributor to the problem, displacing traditional sources of power like coal and gas.

Energy Minister Mike Nahan has been an outspoken supporter of solar power and said the state is going to experience a “tsunami” of these types of commercial installations in coming years.

“It just adds more generating capacity to an already oversupplied system, but it is something we have to cope with,” Mr Nahan said. “Over the next decade these are going to crowd out traditional, large-scale generation of coal and gas. “As we go down the track, these technologies on businesses and households illustrates that into the future we are going to have to reduce our production of traditional energy sources and that’s the challenge.”

March 4, 2016 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Renewable energy micro-grid plannned for Kalbarri, Western Australia

renewable-energy-pictureRenewable energy micro-grid could help restore faith in Kalbarri power supply, ABC News, 3 Mar 16  By Bonnie Christian The WA Government has announced it will commit $300,000 to investigate a way to build an energy micro-grid powered by renewables for the coastal town of Kalbarri.

Kalbarri has experienced several extended power outages over the past two years, costing local businesses thousands of dollars in lost trade and tourism.

The outages had been blamed on a build up of dust and salt on the 140-kilometre-long feeder line that delivers power to the town from Geraldton………..

Rebuilding trust in power supply

Western Power chief executive Paul Italiano said if the new grid did go ahead it would be the largest of its kind in Australia.

“What we’re proposing to do here is evaluating the feasibility of building a micro-grid in Kalbarri that has a combination of solar, perhaps wind, and large scale battery storage that work together to create a level of self-sufficiency for the town,” he said.

“This particular trial — if we’re able to pull it off — will be the largest in Australia.

“There’ll be lessons from this that we can apply to the rest of Western Australia. But more importantly for the whole power industry nationally.”…….

March 4, 2016 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Australian Senate passes motion calling on Western Australia to drop Anti-Protest Law

Federal Senate Urges WA Parliament To Drop Anti-Protest Law, New Matilda, By Thom civil-liberty-2smMitchell on February 24, 2016 The Federal Senate has passed a motion calling on the West Australian government to abandon “divisive and unnecessary” anti-protest laws which have been strongly condemned by the United Nations.

The motion, introduced by Greens Senator Rachel Siewert and passed on the voices, adds to a long list of institutions and individuals who are concerned about what Colin Barnett’s government is proposing.

Last week three separate United Nations Special Rapporteurs issued a joint statement condemning the anti-protest laws, saying it would have the “chilling affect of silencing dissenters”.

“It would go against Australia’s international obligations under international human rights law, including the rights to freedom of opinion and expression as well as peaceful assembly and association,” the three Special Rapporteurs said.

Hundreds of people protested against the bill at the West Australian Parliament yesterday, and a coalition of more than 80 community organisations, legal centres, and unions have signed an open letter opposing the bill. The Federal Senate this afternoon noted “the important role public protest and free speech have played, and continue to play in a healthy democratic society”. However that role may be dramatically curtailed by the time West Australia’s Parliament adjourns tonight.

The bill is being progressed in the lower house of the state Parliament this afternoon, having moved through the upper house last week.

The legislation will inevitably pass, because the Barnett Government controls both houses, but it faced nearly a year of staunch opposition from Labor and the Greens.

The anti-protest law creates two new criminal offences. Under the first, it will become illegal to physically and intentionally prevent a lawful activity being carried out. And under the second, it will become illegal to possess with the intent of using, or to use a “thing” to prevent a lawful activity.

On top of this extremely broad drafting, there is concern that the onus of proof is reversed for both new offences. The President of the West Australian Law Society, Mathew Keogh has previously said that the bill “may erode fundamental aspects of our criminal justice system”.

“The legislation is so broad that it is almost impossible to say how they may be applied down the track,” he said……..

Senator Siewart takes a different view, arguing “were it not for peaceful protest, awful projects such as James Price Point would have gone ahead”.

“The anti-protest laws that Colin Barnett is pushing through State Parliament attacks free speech, public protest and a healthy democratic society,” Siewart said.

“I urge Colin Barnett to consider the calls of the Senate, as well as the United Nations, and abandon these divisive and unnecessary laws,” she said.

February 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australian govt to press on with its changes to Aboriginal heritage legislation

WA government to proceed with controversial changes to Aboriginal heritage legislation, ABC News 19 Feb 16 By Jacob Kagi The West Australian Government intends to proceed with controversial changes to Aboriginal heritage legislation, despite progress on the bill stalling for so long that it dropped off the list Parliament was due to consider.

The Government first introduced legislation to Parliament to amend the Aboriginal Heritage Act in 2014, but there has been no substantial progress on the bill since then.

Because it had been so long since the bill had been debated, it dropped off the Legislative Assembly’s “notice paper”, which is the list of legislation and motions which Parliament is due to consider.

However, that was rectified on Thursday, with the Government passing a motion to restore the bill to the notice paper.

The proposed changes have proven controversial, with concerns that much of the decision-making power would rest of the head of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, and fears the legislation did not give enough of a role to Indigenous people…….

February 20, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Civil liberties under threat in Western Australia. UN urges WA govt to withdraw anti protest Bill

flag-UN.civil-liberty-2smUN urges WA Government not to bring in anti-protest laws, ABC News, By Briana Shepherd, 16 Feb 16  The United Nations has called on the West Australian Government to withdraw controversial new legislation that imposes harsh penalties on protesters.

The proposed laws were first introduced into Parliament in March 2015, and the Government insists it will only target radical protesters using devices like chains or thumb locks to block or stop lawful activities.

But the UN said it would “result in criminalising lawful protests and silencing environmentalists and human rights defenders”.

“If the bill passes, it would go against Australia’s international obligations under international human rights law, including the rights to freedom of opinion and expression as well as peaceful assembly and association,” the UN Human Rights Office said in a statement.

“The bill would criminalise a wide range of legitimate conduct by creating criminal offences for the acts of physically preventing a lawful activity and possessing an object for the purpose of preventing a lawful activity.

 “For example, peaceful civil disobedience and any non-violent direct action could be characterised as ‘physically preventing a lawful activity’.” Under the proposed legislation, an offence would carry serious penalties of imprisonment of one year and a fine of $12,000.

If the offence was committed in circumstances of aggravation, the penalty could be as high as imprisonment for two years and a fine of $24,000. Continue reading

February 17, 2016 Posted by | civil liberties, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s Environmental Defender’s Office slams biodiversity bill

WA enviro defender slams biodiversity bill  AAP February 11, 2016,  The Environmental Defender’s Office has advised against passing the West Australian government’s biodiversity conservation bill in its current form, saying the touted benefits are illusory. Environment Minister Albert Jacob introduced the bill in November, describing changes to the Wildlife Conservation Act as “the Holy Grail” of legislation change for every government going back to the 1980s.

The EDO, however, has released a 36-page white paper that strongly disagrees with the touted benefits of the changes.

Principal solicitor Patrick Pearlman conceded the bill had some good features including repealing two obsolete laws and substantially increasing potential fines for violations, but takes “a giant step back in many other ways”.

He said the proposed removal of “even the threat of jail time” for harming highly threatened species was particularly disturbing.

Mr Pearlman said the proposed changes would give virtually unfettered discretion to either the state environment minister or the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s chief executive in decision-making, leaving the scientific community and the public out in the cold when it came to identifying vulnerable species, critical habitat or key threats.

The bill would give offenders defences that would likely undermine enforcement efforts, and broadly exempt government and industry from the new law’s reach, he said.

“Even worse, the bill appears to promote short-term declines to foster development and permits the minister to allow species to be taken to the point of extinction,” he said.

Last year, the state government cut the EDO’s funding completely.

February 13, 2016 Posted by | politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Popularity of Western Australia’s rooftop solar makes privatisation of electricity assets unlikley

text-people-power-solarWA’s rooftop solar so popular power privatisation not an option, says expert, Guardian, , 6 Jan 16   Prof Philip Jennings, a renewable energy expert, says investors would be unlikely to be interested in unprofitable power networks Western Australia would not be able to privatise its electricity assets “even if they gave it to them for nothing” because the popularity of rooftop solar panels has made state-owned power stations unprofitable, a renewable energy expert has said. Continue reading

January 7, 2016 Posted by | solar, Western Australia | Leave a comment


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