Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

No-one can get finance to build a uranium mine in Australia.

NO-ONE CAN GET FINANCE TO BUILD A URANIUM MINE IN AUSTRALIA   https://www.ccwa.org.au/no_finance_toro?utm_campaign=nuclear_news172&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ccwa
BY K-A GARLICK JULY 26, 2021  
 CCWA nuclear-free campaigner Kerrie-Ann Garlick attended last week’s Toro meeting to raise concerns that the company’s most recent uranium proposal differs from its currently approved plan.

Toro Energy’s general meeting last Friday heard the death toll sounding on WA’s uranium hopefuls.

Toro Chair Richard Homsany told the meeting that no one can get finance to build a uranium mine in Australia. He also acknowledged that Toro’s conditional environmental approval for its stalled Wiluna project expires on January 9, 2022. From this date, Toro will not be able to mine without making project changes that would require further state government scrutiny and approval.

In 2017 the McGowan Labor government introduced a policy ban on uranium mining in WA but inherited four uranium mine proposals with existing approvals granted by the former Barnett government. By the end of January 2022, the current Ministerial approvals for all four of the states proposed uranium mines will expire if they do not commence mining.

Approval for Cameco’s Kintyre expired and was not renewed in March 2020, Vimy Resources Mulga Rock project approval expires in December 2021 and both Yeelirrie (Cameco) and Wiluna (Toro) are set to expire in January 2022. If any of these companies want to mine they will need to seek approval for amendments to Ministerial conditions. This may trigger a new assessment or a suite of other conditions being applied.

CCWA nuclear-free campaigner Kerrie-Ann Garlick attended last week’s Toro meeting to raise concerns that the company’s most recent uranium proposal differs from its currently approved plan. “Toro is now focused on developing a JV uranium project at Lake Maitland. This is completely separate from the existing approval for the Wiluna project and would require a whole new environmental assessment. It is our view that this could not be advanced because of the existing policy ban on uranium mining in WA.”

“The Wiluna uranium mine proposal is uneconomic and they don’t have the funding to develop it. There is almost no scenario in which the Wiluna uranium mine could be developed ahead of the approval expiry in January 2022”

“It is refreshing that the Toro Board are realistic about the current highly negative market conditions for uranium. No one is financing uranium mines and that is unlikely to change by January. It is increasingly likely that we will reach a point in January 2022 where there are no operating mines and no active approvals for uranium mining in WA,” Ms Garlick concluded.

July 29, 2021 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Mulga Rock Uranium Project – VIMY’S MINE – UNWANTED AND UNECONOMIC

VIMY’S MINE – UNWANTED AND UNECONOMIC, https://www.ccwa.org.au/vimy_s_mine_unwanted?utm_campaign=nuclear_news164&utm_medium=email&utm_source=ccwa By Mia Pepper
Deputy Chair of the Mineral Policy Institute.   BY KIM SMITH  JUNE 02, 2021

Vimy Resources (aka Narnoo Mining) advertisement in Saturdays Kalgoorlie Miner is part of an extended last-ditch attempt to start a mine that is unwanted, uneconomic, does not have full and final approval or the financing needed to start mining.

Saturday’s ad suggests that Vimy will begin work at the site in Q4 2021. There are several critical elements for mining to commence that are not yet in place and are unlikely to be resolved by Q4 2021. The companies Mine Closure Plan and Mine Plan are not yet approved by the Department of Mines and previous attempts to have these plans approved have failed. There are also Works Approvals, export and other licenses and permits that are still required. The company does not have an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the Upurli Upurli Nguratja Native Title claimant group – pre-empting mining without an ILUA drastically impacts that groups ability to negotiate or determine what should or shouldn’t happen on their country. 

Perhaps the clearest pre-requisite to begin mining is a company’s Final Investment Decision and the finances to cover the capital costs. Without the ability to fund the project and meet the requirements of mining any ground-disturbing activities are pre-emptive and irresponsible. The capital cost for the Mulga Rock project is $493 million. Vimy’s March quarterly report shows Vimy raised over $18 million, since then they have raised a further $9 million. $27 million is a far cry from the $493 million needed to meet full capital costs. But it is enough to do some serious damage in the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community in the Great Victoria Desert, home to the endangered Sandhill Dunnart and other important vulnerable, migratory and priority species of flora and fauna. The company’s share value is down 97% since their inception in 2008 and has a long way to go to secure finance for a project that is just not economic. Until the company can demonstrate they have the capital funds to get the project off the ground they should not be allowed to embark on pre-emptive ground-disturbing activities.

One thing more dangerous than a uranium mine is an uneconomic uranium mine and ideologically driven company. Despite the lack of funding, final licenses and permits, an ILUA, social license and bipartisan support Vimy’s Mulga Rock project still presents a very real threat to the environment and the WA taxpayer. The WA government should make decisions based on evidence, not enthusiasm and should not facilitate this poorly considered project.

June 3, 2021 Posted by | business, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Senior Morrison government ministers support Iluka’s plan to reprocess rare earths (no mention of what they would do with the radioactive wastes)

Iluka finds favour in bid to build rare earths refinery, W.A. Today, By Nick Toscano, May 11, 2021

A proposal to build the country’s first full-scale rare earths refinery has secured the support of senior Morrison government ministers, as Australia works to position itself as a key supplier of raw ingredients in smartphones, electric cars and wind turbines.

The board of ASX-listed Iluka Resources, a $3.6 billion company, is assessing the feasibility of developing a refinery at Eneabba in Western Australia to process rare earths – a group of elements used in a range of high-tech products and military weapons systems……..    https://www.watoday.com.au/business/companies/iluka-finds-favour-in-bid-to-build-rare-earths-refinery-20210511-p57que.html

May 13, 2021 Posted by | rare earths, Western Australia | Leave a comment

New research into the effects of nuclear bomb tests on Montebello islands

 

March 22, 2021 Posted by | environment, weapons and war, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Time for Australia to clean up uranium mining damage, and end this toxic industry

It’s time to clean up not start up!    https://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=21352 On this 10th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it is time to learn one simple lesson; radioactive risk is more constant than a politician’s promise. It is time to move beyond the risk of opening a uranium mine to safely rehabilitating existing exploration and trial mine sites. If we fail to act and allow small unproven company assurances to take the place of evidence, then we are both failing those affected by Fukushima and increasing the odds of fuelling a future one.

By Kerrie-Ann Garlick – , 12 March 2021
On the 10th anniversary of the Australian uranium-fuelled Fukushima nuclear disaster, it is time for a rethink on uranium Australia-wide and for WA to look beyond mining towards rehabilitation. WAs four proposed uranium mines and the 85 exploration sites have been unable to develop into mines and all pose serious environmental, economic and public health risks. Some of the companies involved no longer exist, others are hanging on by a thread. With a stagnant uranium price and a global nuclear power industry that is struggling to maintain status quo, we should be looking to clean up Barnett’s failed attempt to establish uranium mines in WA and close that chapter in our history book.

Ten years after the devastating earthquake and Tsunami and subsequent multiple reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Fukushima is still one of the most radioactive places on earth. It remains a profound human, economic and environmental tragedy one that was fuelled by Australian uranium. In Parliament in 2012 Dr Robert Floyd, Director General, Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation confirmed that Australian uranium was in each of the reactors at the time of the meltdown. Following the disaster, the UN Secretary General urged every uranium producing country to hold “an in-depth assessment of the net cost impact of the impacts of mining fissionable material on local communities and ecosystems.”

Our government did not respond to the catastrophic disaster at Fukushima with any kind of review of our role in supplying uranium. There was no critical review from Australia of the warning signs we missed with TEPCO who had a history of falsifying records, mismanagement and accidents.

In the decade since the disaster there have been no new uranium mines in Australia. After 40 years of imposed mining in Kakadu the Ranger uranium mine has now closed and in attempting rehabilitation. Uranium mining in Australia is now confined to South Australia with just two operating mines – Olympic Dam and Four Mile and three mines – Honeymoon, Beverley & Beverley Four Mile – all in extended ‘care and maintenance’ (not closed but not operating). What is needed to make sure Australian uranium is not fuelling another Fukushima nuclear meltdown, is clearly to leave it in the ground.

The four uranium projects, Kintyre, Wiluna, Yeelirrie and Mulga Rock have all been unable to proceed in the face of high operating costs, a low uranium price and continued and sustained community opposition to mining uranium. With the imminent expiry of environmental approvals for the four uranium sites, the WA Government has an opportunity and a responsibility to manage these sites in a way that protects the environment, public & workers health and the WA taxpayers. The incoming government would be uniquely placed to legislate a ban on uranium mining in WA avoiding a repeat of the last decade of uncertainty, legal and procedural battles, and significant government resources.

There are a further 85 exploration sites, of those 56 projects are listed as being inactive or suspended of those 23 do not have an active owner, any rehabilitation of those sites would now be a cost to WA taxpayers. The risk of uranium will far outlive the uranium companies who have exploration sites across our state. The WA government should act now and ensure the best possible rehabilitation outcomes for those sites while there are still companies who can be held to account.

Small uranium companies like Vimy Resources who have the Mulga Rock uranium proposal to the NE of Kalgoorlie and Toro Energy with the Wiluna proposal, and underdeveloped projects like Cameco’s Kintyre and Yeelirrie have been deferred or placed on extended care and maintenance due to the depressed uranium market and low commodity price. Their time is up, we need to start to clean up these sites – not lock in an industry that has a history of being constrained by political uncertainty, that has a consistent lack of social license and one that has been met with strong Aboriginal and community resistance.

On this 10th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it is time to learn one simple lesson; radioactive risk is more constant than a politician’s promise. It is time to move beyond the risk of opening a uranium mine to safely rehabilitating existing exploration and trial mine sites. If we fail to act and allow small unproven company assurances to take the place of evidence, then we are both failing those affected by Fukushima and increasing the odds of fuelling a future one.

March 15, 2021 Posted by | environment, Western Australia | Leave a comment

The plan to use nuclear bombs for fracking in Western Australia

ED Note.  The absurd and dangerous project discussed here has nothing at all to do with the very admirable American group The Plowshares.
Operation Plowshare pushed for a civilian use for atomic bombs in the 1960s and Port Hedland was in its sights, ABC Radio Perth, By Emma Wynne– 8 Nov 20  Almost every day, John Clancy visits the State Library of WA and delves into the records, intent on finding the background to stories that have piqued his interest.

Most recently, his dives into the archives led him to a largely forgotten episode in Western Australia’s past — the serious discussions that took place about using a nuclear weapon to create a deep harbour at Port Hedland in the state’s north.

The discussions were between the WA Government, United States nuclear scientists, and mining companies.

In 1961, the US Government began Operation Plowshare, a program investigating using atomic technology for civil purposes.

“[The US] had the bomb at the end of the war and they were looking for ways to get some value back out of it after all the money they had spent developing it,” Mr Clancy said.

The original fracking was atomic fracking. But it was too strong for that. It was doing too much damage underground.”

Various Plowshare ideas floated included using atomic bombs to cut a highway through southern California or duplicate the Panama Canal in Nicaragua, but they were deemed too big and too risky.

“They’d have needed 30 or 40 bombs to do that,” he said.

“There would have been too much leftover waste and they didn’t quite know what a big concentration of it in one place would end up doing.”

His interest in the connection to WA was first roused years ago on a trip to the United States.

“You can do a public tour of the Nevada [nuclear] Test Site (NTS), and I did that,” he said.

“They had one particular test that they (the NTS) had set up with Port Hedland in mind, seeing how much dirt they could shift with one blast and how big the hole would be. That’s the first I heard of this.”

Recently, his online research led to an array of documents held in the State Records Office including reports, correspondence, and newspaper clippings about the plans during the 1960s.

“I never thought there would be this much information on it,” he said.

The files reveal numerous discussions the State Government, north-west mining companies, and nuclear scientists had around using nuclear technology in the Pilbara.

At the same time, the discovery of vast iron ore deposits in the Pilbara meant that the region was rapidly opening up to mining and industrial development.

A port was needed to ship million of tonnes of iron ore offshore.

Mr Clancy said the project in Australia’s remote north-west, requiring only one or two bombs, would have seemed an ideal first project.

“The Plowshare operation was quite prominent, they were shopping around anywhere they could for someone that was interested,” he said.

“While this was going on, they were still doing underground testing in America, they were gathering information all the time.

“They [Operation Plowshare] were open to anything.”……….

While it’s not entirely clear who first suggested it, the flurry of correspondence between the Western Australian government, engineering firms and mining companies throughout the 1960s shows the idea was firmly on the drawing board.

In one letter to Charles Court, a former premier and minister for regional development and the north-west from 1959 until 1971, an engineering firm wrote they had met with Australia’s atomic energy attache at the embassy in Washington and were eager to proceed:……..

A report of a visit by Australian Atomic Energy officers to BHP’s Deepdale iron ore development, dated February 1, 1966, gives some hint of the magnitude of the political challenge faced.

It also raised the inconvenient problem of the existence of the Test Ban Treaty:

The report goes on to discuss how an exemption may have been possible, but it would have required the Australian Government to be the first in the world to propose changing the treaty.

Mr Clancy also suspects the fallout from the British tests on the Montebello Islands in Western Australia’s north-west and in Maralinga in South Australia also played a part in why the ideas came to nothing.

By 1971, the Liberal government under Premier David Brand had been defeated and the records come to an end.

In 1977, the United States Government formally ended Operation Plowshare, never having found a site for the peacetime application of nuclear weapons……..https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-08/documents-reveal-plans-to-use-nuclear-bombs-in-port-hedland/12848004

 

November 9, 2020 Posted by | history, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Repower WA with Renewables: 90% by 2030

September 3, 2020 Posted by | energy, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australia: call for Mt Walton hazardous waste facility to accept toxic material from across Australia, i(includes radioactive wastes

July 2, 2020 Posted by | wastes, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Western Australian uranium projects floundering, as Cameco’s Kintyre environmental approval lapses

K-A Garlick at Nuclear Free WA, 6 May 20 The environmental approval for the Kintyre uranium project expired in March this year.  So there is no valid environmental approval for Cameco. There can be no mining without changing or getting new environmental approval. This is great news for the campaign and shows the uncertainty of the uranium industry and Cameo who had applied for an extension but latter withdraw their application. It is great for the Martu community who have held strong and resisted over these many years. Let’s hope their beautiful country will one day be given back!

Keeping a track on all four projects and the process of asking questions on notice through State Parliament, we have found that Toro Energy, have failed to submit their annual environment reports on the Wiluna uranium project.  This matter is now being pursued by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety to ensure the report and plans are provided and any appropriate compliance action is taken.

Further good news, Yeelirrie is getting some really good attention with some upcoming media from the Freedom of Information process that has been investigated through the Australian Conservation Foundation that found an alarming lack of transparency in the Federal approvals process. The documents show that Cameco lobbied the former Federal resource Minister, Matt Canavan to fast track the approvals process and to change the conditions. If you haven’t seen the presentation from ACF, please click here.

We are excited organising a series of webinar nuclear talks that will focus on local, national and international impacts of Australian uranium industry. We will announce next week further details, but lock in Wednesday 10 June 5.30pm – 7 pm (tbc).

May 7, 2020 Posted by | uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

The importance of strengthening the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC)

On April 2, environmentalists across Australia met online, in a webinar focussed on the EPBC Act.   The federal government is holding a Review of the  Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act , with Submissions due 17 April The Conservation Council of Western Australia, and Nuclear Free WA hosted the webinar.  The case of the Yeelirrie uranium project was discussed, as a case especially relevant to the EPBC Act.  As it turns out, the EPBC is weak, in relation to having power over this project. It relies on the Western Australian EPA for the relevant decision.  Extraordinarily, in this case, the EPA advised against the project. However, the Environment Minister at the time, overrode this advice, and approved the project anyway.

Piers Verstagen, of CCWA, outlined the history of CCWA’s work in holding the Wester Australian EPA’s assessments to account. The  Yeelirrie uranium project would threaten the extinction of up to 11 stygofauna, which are tiny groundwater species. The EPA therefore did not recommend the project. However, in approving the project , the Minister also inserted a clause into the legislation, which now will allow the extinction of any species.  CCWA has challenged that approval. The project has not proceeded.

But – this Yeelirrie case is a fine example of the reasons why the EPBC Act needs to be strengthened, not weakened. Weakening the Act is the goal of the Mining Council and others, who seek unfettered development of mining and other polluting projects.

Ruby Hamilton pointed out the need for Australia’s Environmental Protection Act to relate to international treaties on environment.

Mia Pepper, Mineral Policy Institute spoke of the absolute need for keeping the nuclear power ban and uranium triggers on the EPBC Act and to link people to the don’t nuke the climate website for more information:
This wonderful resource has all the information clearly for people to make a submission. https://dont-nuke-the-climate.org.au/nuclear-ban/

ACF’s Environmental Investigator described ways in which the Act should be strengthened, emphasising that:

  • We need to keep  the right for 3rd parties to challenge bad decisions.
  • We need an independent authority to administer the EPBC Act.
  • WE need way more transparency in the way that the Act is used

 

April 4, 2020 Posted by | environment, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Flooding events highlight the danger to proposed uranium mining sites Yeelirrie and Wiluna

K-A Garlick at Nuclear Free WA

6 Feb 20, In an area where two uranium mines are proposed ~ Yeelirrie and Wiluna, there have been massive rain influx, leading to widespread floods across the Goldfields country.

Toro Energy Wiluna uranium project expands over two lake systems and over 100 kms. The project includes four uranium deposits – Lake Way, Centipede, Millipede and Lake Maitland.

The project proposal includes a high risk inappropriate site to attempt disposal of up to 50 million tonnes of radioactive tailings that would be stored in mined out pits on the edge of Lake Way in a floodplain and in the drainage channel of a creek.

The company’s studies of hydrogeology, hydrology and geochemistry were all heavily criticised in Peer Reviews submitted as part of the environmental assessment.  With these floods today, the planned emplacement of 50 million tonnes of long-lived radioactive mine waste in a floodplain poses a very serious risk to the environment and public health.

February 6, 2020 Posted by | climate change - global warming, safety, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

In blistering heat, Perth’s bushfire will keep burning for days

Perth bushfire emergency continues as firefighters spend a fourth day trying to protect lives, homes, BY GIAN DE POLONI AND JAMES CARMODY, ABC, 16 Dec 19,   A bushfire threatening lives and homes in Perth’s north has remained at emergency level for a fourth consecutive day — and it may stay there for several more, with flames being fanned further up the coast.

Key points:

  • The fire has burnt through 12,000 hectares, destroying several structures
  • DFES’ commissioner says difficult times are ahead and warns of further damage
  • Authorities say they don’t believe arson is to blame for the fire

Hundreds of firefighters battling the blaze were able to slow its spread on Friday night but they spent Saturday dealing with changes in wind direction and another day of blistering heat.

The emergency warning is in place for a 45-kilometre stretch of coast including the towns of Guilderton, Seabird and parts of Two Rocks.

The smaller communities of Woodridge, Caraban, Gabbadah, Neergabby, Wilbinga, Yeal, Redfield Park, Sovereign Hill, the Seatrees and Breakwater estates and parts of Beermullah, Muckenburra, Wanerie, Neergabby and Yanchep remained in the the emergency warning zone on Sunday morning.

Fire danger has been declared for the metropolitan region, the Pilbara, Goldfields Midlands, the Great Southern, the mid-west Gascoyne, as well as the south-west and lower south-west of the state. ……..

Fire will burn for days

Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) superintendent Gary Baxter said the fire could burn for more than a week.

“I don’t suspect that we’re going to extinguish it anytime in the next week or so but certainly we’ll try and get containment lines strengthened,” he said.

“Controlling it is a different thing but containing it over the next few days is an objective you’d hope in the next couple of weeks to fully extinguish the fire.

“That’s to completely extinguish 100 per cent of the fire ground — that’s a complete blackout — so that over the next few weeks and into the next couple of months of over summer we don’t have to revisit the same patch.”……

No relief from blistering heat

The fire has been fuelled by heatwave conditions that saw temperatures in the city top 40 degrees Celsius on Friday and Saturday, with similar conditions expected for Sunday.

The blaze has so far burnt through close to 12,000 hectares of bushland, tearing through the Yanchep National Park………

Yanchep National Park and the Wilbinga Conservation Park remains closed.

There was a total fire ban across the Perth metropolitan area on Saturday.

The Red Cross has established a hotline number for people affected by the fire to get in touch with family and friends; 1800 351 375 https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-14/yanchep-and-two-rocks-bushfire-could-burn-for-days/11800060

December 16, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Traditional Aboriginal owners will not give up fight against planned WA uranium mine, despite legal loss

December 5, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Three Tjiwarl women from WA’s goldfields win conservation award for uranium mine campaign

https://www.miragenews.com/three-tjiwarl-women-from-wa-s-goldfields-win-conservation-award-for-uranium-mine-campaign/  29 Nov 19, Over the decades they have seen off at least three mining companies, including BHP, and in the process they have given strength and courage to their own community and many others.”

Three Tjiwarl women, Shirley Wonyabong, Elizabeth Wonyabong and Vicki Abdullah, have been awarded the 2019 Peter Rawlinson Award for their decades-long campaign to protect their country and culture from a proposed uranium mine at Yeelirrie in outback Western Australia.

The award, which celebrates outstanding voluntary contributions to protect the environment, will be conferred on the women at the Australian Conservation Foundation’s (ACF) annual general meeting in Melbourne tonight.

“Shirley, Elizabeth and Vicki, along with other Tjiwarl people, have spoken up for their country and culture around campfires, in politicians’ offices, on the streets of Perth and in Western Australia’s highest court, all the while looking after their grandchildren and each other,” said ACF’s Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy.

“Every year for the last eight years, these women have taken people from all over the world through their country on a one-month walking tour. In this way, hundreds have seen their land.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | 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