Australian news, and some related international items

Chinese-Australian uranium and rare earths mining company meets political opposition in Greenland

Left-wing party opposed to rare earth mining project wins Greenland election,  A left-wing environmentalist party opposed to a controversial mining project won a clear victory in Greenland’s parliamentary election, according to results released Wednesday. 7 Apr 21,

With 36.6 percent of the vote, Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) was ahead of Siumut, a social democratic party that has dominated politics in the Danish territory since it gained autonomy in 1979.

“Thank you to the people who trusted us to work with the people in the centre for the next four years,” IA leader Mute Egede said on KNR public television after the results were announced.

IA, which was previously in opposition, is expected to grab 12 out of the 31 seats in the Inatsisartut, the local parliament, up from eight currently.

But without an absolute majority, the most likely scenario is that IA joins forces with smaller parties to form a coalition.   Siumut, which headed the outgoing government, was partly weakened by internal struggles. It gained 29.4 percent of the vote, still two percentage points higher than its results in the 2018 election.

The dividing line between the two parties was whether to authorise a controversial giant rare earth and uranium mining project, which is currently the subject of public hearings.

The Kuannersuit deposit, in the island’s south, is considered one of the world’s richest in uranium and rare earth minerals — a group of 17 metals used as components in everything from smartphones to electric cars and weapons.

IA has called for a moratorium on uranium mining, which would effectively put a halt to the project.

Divisions over Kuannersuit originally triggered the snap election in the territory after one of the smaller parties left the ruling Siumut coalition.

Opponents say the project, led by the Chinese-owned Australian group Greenland Minerals, has too many environmental risks, including radioactive waste.

Egede told KNR he would immediately start discussions to “explore different forms of cooperation” before forming a coalition government.

The 34-year-old, who has been a member of the Inatsisartut since 2015, took over the reins of the left-green party a little over two years ago.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics international, rare earths, uranium | Leave a comment

Australian company Silex with Canadian company Cameco buys out GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE)

January 21, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

Australia’s environmental scientists intimidated, silenced by threats of job loss


January 17, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, culture, Education, employment, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Can a new mine save BHP’s loss-making Olympic Dam? 

Can a new mine save BHP’s loss-making Olympic Dam?  Peter Ker,Resources reporter
Nov 18, 2020 – There’s a school of thought at BHP that the best way to fix its loss-making Olympic Dam mine is with a bulldozer.

By demolishing the old smelter, refinery, acid plant and other surface infrastructure that so often cause the inconsistency at the mine, advocates say BHP could start again by spending a few billion dollars on world-class infrastructure to allow it to capitalise on Olympic Dam’s extraordinarily large copper, gold, silver and uranium resource….(Subscribers only)….

November 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Superannuation funds are leaving investments on nuclear weapons

November 2, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, weapons and war | Leave a comment

$3 trillion and 880,000 jobs to be lost, if Australia continues inaction on climate change

November 2, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, employment, politics | Leave a comment

Uranium: the mineral that never made sense now doesn’t even make dollars

Uranium: the mineral that never made sense now doesn’t even make dollars, 20 Oct 20,  News that BHP, the world’s biggest mining company, will not continue with the long planned multi-billion dollar expansion of its Olympic Dam uranium and copper project shows the clock is ticking on uranium, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

The planned expansion of the mine in northern South Australia enjoyed strong state and federal government support and was on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent list of major projects to be fast-tracked.

“This move is further evidence of the deep market malaise surrounding uranium operations,” said Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“Today’s announcement shows that political access, spin and favours cannot change the realities of an ore body or the global commodity market.

“BHP has made a basic, hard-headed business decision not to proceed with this project.

“The global uranium price has been hammered since the Fukushima nuclear disaster and it is unlikely to improve. The sector has scant social license and is increasingly embattled.

“Today’s decision by BHP, coupled with Rio Tinto’s exit from operations at the Ranger mine in Kakadu, shows the clock is ticking on uranium, the asbestos of the 21st Century.

“South Australia’s energy, employment and economic options should not be tied to a continued dependence on high impact, low certainty resource projects.

“South Australia is well placed to lead the nation in renewable energy tools, technology and thinking.

“This decision may be the pivot needed to shift to a secure, sustainable contemporary economy.”

For context or comment contact Dave Sweeney on 0408 317 812

October 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

BHP dumps its plan to expand Olympic Dam uranium mine

BHP shelves $3.7bn expansion plan for Olympic Dam mine in SA for a second time
BHP has shelved a plan to spend $3.7 billion expanding the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine – just months after the colossal project was put on a Federal Government fast-track.    Cameron England, Business Editor, The Advertiser, 19 Oct 20, 

BHP’s $3.7 billion expansion plans for the Olympic Dam mine have been abandoned.

The company had been looking at a Brownfields Expansion Project (BFX) which would have increased production from the current capacity of 200,000 tonnes of copper per year to as much as 300,000.

The project was one of a number of big ticket items earmarked for streamlined approval processes by the Federal Government in June in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has major project status from the State Government……….

It is the second time BHP has scrapped plans for Olympic Dam. In August 2012, the company announced it had shelved its $30 billion expansion and would go back to the drawing board to find a cheaper alternative. Market conditions, subdued commodity prices and higher capital costs led to the decision eight years ago………

 in its quarterly review released this morning, BHP said following more than 400km of underground drilling, which improved the knowledge of the ore body, it had decided to focus on incremental improvements, rather than a step change investment at the site.

“Following more than 400 km of underground drilling associated with the Brownfield Expansion (BFX) project studies, we have improved knowledge of the ore body’s variability,’’ the company said.

“This has provided challenges for the economics of the BFX project, and we have decided the optimal way forward for now is through targeted debottlenecking investments, plant upgrades and modernisation of our infrastructure.’………

BHP said Olympic Dam was performing well, and had posted its best quarterly performance in the past five years in the three months to the end of September.

“Over the next two years, our focus will remain on completing our asset integrity program to underpin more stable operations and copper production of more than 200 ktpa. We have a significant investment program in place to achieve that,’’ Mr Basto said.

“We will continue to study longer-term options for growth. Our enhanced understanding of the underground resources in the Southern Mine Area, promising results from Oak Dam and stronger foundations will help us unlock the full potential of Olympic Dam……..

In August, BHP announced Olympic Dam had made a full year loss before interest and tax of $US79 million, on revenues of $US1.463 billion. That was up from a loss the previous financial year of $US58 million on revenues of $1.351 billion.

October 20, 2020 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

China’s dramatic plan for switch to renewables – a warning to Australia’s fossil-fuel economy

October 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Pretty despicable -tax breaks for company exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia, UAE.

Tax break for weapons exports to Mid-East countries accused of war crimes, Michael West Media, by Michelle Fahy | Oct 6, 2020   Australian weapons manufacturer Electro Optic Systems, with financial support from the federal and ACT governments, is capitalising on the ‘growth market’ of the Middle East, one of the world’s most volatile regions. Michelle Fahy reports.

As has been reported repeatedly, remote weapons systems manufactured by EOS are being exported to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia despite both countries being accused of war crimes. Numerous UN reports have detailed shocking human rights violations over the six years of the Yemen war.

After a shutdown due to Covid-19, EOS announced last month that it is exporting again.

EOS and the federal government have been asked repeatedly for proof that its weapons are not being used in Yemen. “Trust us,” is the standard response.

Assurances from a company chasing millions in profit and a government intent on catapulting Australia into the global top 10 of weapons exporters seem to be the best the public can expect in terms of accountability.

There is zero transparency when it comes to Australian weapons exports………..

Government support for EOS

EOS has received extensive government support, including an exemption from paying state payroll tax. Under questioning last November by the ACT Greens, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the ACT Government provided support to EOS (PDF p44), “principally for its space industry related activity”. While EOS separates its space industry work from its weapons side, both companies operate in the same group under the same board……..

EOS has so far supplied the UAE and Saudi with its remote weapons systems. The systems are mounted on armoured vehicles and can incorporate a light cannon, machine gun, grenade launcher or anti-tank missile, which EOS does not manufacture. The system enables the weapon to be operated from inside the vehicle, which makes the soldier safer. It can identify targets and automatically aim the weapon, making the firing of the weapon faster and more accurate. In military parlance, the system enhances lethality. See it in action here.

The claim that it was not a weapons manufacturer may have been technically correct when asserted by EOS and Barr, but that is no longer the case.

Last month EOS announced it had moved into production with a new range of directed energy (laser) weapons. The weapons are being marketed by EOS as ‘drone kill’ technology (counter unmanned aircraft system or CUAS). EOS says “CUAS are entirely defensive systems”. The potential market is large. EOS has named its new range of weapons Mopoke, after the small native Australian owl.

EOS has not disclosed its list of interested customers for Mopoke, but industry insiders – such as AuManufacturing – have noted that its first customers are likely to come from the Middle East, given drone attacks on infrastructure there……….

EOS is now unequivocally a weapons manufacturer, and likely to soon start exporting its weapons to the Middle East.

Supplying weapons to war crimes accused

Melissa Parke, a lawyer, former federal Labor MP, and human rights expert, is one of three UN-appointed Eminent Experts on Yemen. Parke told SBS Dateline last year:

“No country can claim not to be aware of the violations being perpetrated in Yemen. To continue to provide weapons in the knowledge of such violations is both morally and legally hazardous.”

A former secretary of the Defence Department, Paul Barratt, has also stated his position on these weapon sales:

“Regardless of whether Australian-made weapons [are] crossing the border into Yemen, Australia now has a national policy which seeks and facilitates weapons sales with countries that stand accused of gross violations of human rights and likely war crimes. When did this particular trade in arms become official Australian policy? As a country that routinely asks other countries to abide by the rules-based international order, it would seem hypocritical, at best, that Australia is now willing to … make a profit from weapons sales to nations that are openly flouting this international order.”……….

In addition to ministerial lobbying, EOS Defence Systems has received federal financial support, including:

  • $3.7 million from Defence between 2013 and 2016
  • $41.5 million performance bond from Export Finance Australia (EFIC) (PDF p66)

The company has also gained from influential appointments to its board. Former Chief of Army, Peter Leahy, joined the EOS board in May 2009, just 10 months after retiring as army chief. In April 2016 Leahy was joined by former Chief of Air Force, Geoff Brown, less than 10 months after he had retired from the air force……

October 6, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Killing the virus comes at enormous cost — doing nothing will cost more. 

Killing the virus comes at enormous cost — doing nothing will cost more. 

A recent study by McKinsey, the New York based global management consultant group, found that it’s not lockdowns that have caused a global recession — it’s the pandemic.

September 21, 2020 Posted by | business, health, Victoria | Leave a comment

‘Gas-led recovery’ may actually deter energy investment: Experts

September 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s nearly 2 $trillion costs by 2050 – if we continue climate change inaction

September 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Lithium for renewable energy technologies – a Covid recovery way for Australia

How Australia’s ‘white gold’ could power the global electric vehicle revolution

Miners and environmentalists have reached an uneasy truce over lithium – both agree Australia should be mining more of this key ingredient in renewable energy batteries, by Max Opray

”……….On the one side, environmentalists are engaging with a resources sector they distrust to nudge it towards lithium, an element which is used in batteries for electric vehicles and renewable energy storage systems due to its remarkably high energy density.

On the other, miners like Brown are suppressing scepticism of green causes to carve out a future in a world aiming to divest itself of fossil fuels.

Brown joined Altura Mining in 2009, and set about helping the small coal miner diversify into other resources as a way of hedging against headwinds facing the fossil fuel.

Lithium, hyped as the “white gold” of the 21st century, seemed a promising investment. But securing investors for Altura’s exploration tenements in the remote ochre deserts of the Pilbara proved challenging……..

Despite the urgency of the climate crisis, the attachment to coal runs deep for Australians like Brown, and leaving it behind wasn’t easy. ……..

The ‘white gold’ rush

Australia leads the world in lithium production and possesses an estimated 6.3m tons of lithium reserves.

The metal is fast becoming a geopolitical bargaining chip, as China, the US and other major powers jostle to secure access to an element expected to surge in demand as the global economy rapidly ramps up production of electric vehicles and renewable energy storage systems, not to mention lithium-ion mobile phone batteries.

The most common form of extraction in Australia is by crushing a hard rock called spodumene, and from that extracting lithium concentrate using a separation method that Brown says is similar to some coal processing systems.

Harry Fisher, senior consultant at business intelligence company CRU Group, believes the economic recovery from Covid-19 will be the moment the long-promised lithium rush finally gets underway.

“Governments continue to promote the merits of a ‘green recovery’, with EV subsidies being increased in Germany, France, UK and many others,” he says. “Policy is likely to continue to support demand.”

Australia has no formal green recovery plan, but Fisher suggests that might not matter if the rest of the world does.

Fisher forecasts that demand will grow to 830 kilotonnes by 2025, up from around 330 kilotonnes this year. In particular demand, Fisher says, is the spodumene that Australia specialises in…….

Altura will be a key supplier to Shanshan’s new lithium chemical plant in China, which plans to produce 25,000 tonnes per annum.

The deal came, says Brown, thanks to China’s two-year extension of state subsidies and tax breaks for electric vehicles until the end of 2022.

The subsidies were also cited by Pilbara Minerals, the operator of a neighbouring Pilgangoora lithium mine, as a reason for optimism.

Australia’s major competition in the global market is the “lithium triangle” of Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, which extracts the metal out of the region’s salt lakes……..

Elsa Dominish, research principal at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, said the environmental impact of lithium mining is similar to other forms of hard rock mining.

She says Australia has an opportunity to establish the world’s best practice for lithium mining by monitoring water and energy use, management of waste, and impact on sacred cultural sites.

Dominish emphasises that lithium’s footprint pales in comparison to the impact of coal. “In addition to emissions … coal mining is one of the most damaging forms of mining considering health and environmental impacts, particularly respiratory impacts from exposure to coal dust,” she says…….

When Adam Bandt assumed the Greens leadership in February, he immediately went to work spruiking a Green New Deal.

Bandt had even planned to visit the Greenbushes Lithium Mine in south-west WA, the largest hard rock lithium operation in the world, to sell the message of transitioning coal miners into jobs in new energy metals. The trip was called off due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Miners have long moved to where the resources are, and Queensland and New South Wales coal workers might need to relocate to the Pilbara for new lithium mining gigs. In the case of Greenbushes however, there is a coal mining community right on its doorstep.

Unions and the Western Australian government are pushing for a planned Greenbushes expansion to employ coal workers from the nearby Collie mine and power plant, in a bid to secure a future for them as the local coal industry withers away.

Industry analysts, lithium miners, and green groups also agree on something else: simply digging the lithium out of the ground and exporting it with minimal processing is a wasted opportunity.

According to the Million Jobs Plan report, produced by climate thinktank Beyond Zero Emissions, Australia earns only 0.5% of the value of its exported lithium ore, with the remainder going to overseas companies that further refine it and manufacture lithium-ion batteries.

South Australia, home to Tesla’s Big Battery, is developing battery manufacturing capacity, and BZE argues Western Australia could invest in lithium refinement, battery component manufacture, and recycling, to contribute towards 100,000 new jobs nationally by 2025. The state is already host to several processing facility projects.

Heidi Lee, project lead for the Million Jobs Plan, says the Covid-19 shutdown is a generational opportunity for the Australian government to set signals to unlock investment, such as a new renewable energy target………..

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the economy but also presented a unique opportunity: to invest in climate action that creates jobs and stimulates investment, before it’s too late. The Green Recovery features talk to people on the frontline of Australia’s potential green recovery.

September 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business | Leave a comment

BHP’s Uranium mine Olympic Dam makes a financial loss for second year running

Olympic Dam records a second financial year loss, of US$79 million on revenue of US$1.46 billion in 2019-20.   Giving a total three-year loss of approx. US$100 million on revenues of approx. US$4 billion,  with last profit in 2017-18 fin yr of only US$39 million.

Olympic Dam Mining  revenues are at approx. only 2.5 per cent of total BHP corporate revenues,

Not very convincing…

Olympic Dam reports $US79 million loss, is on the lookout for new leader

Olympic Dam’s turnaround story is not yet complete, with BHP’s mega mine posting another loss for the past financial year as it starts the hunt for a new leader.

Cameron England, Business Editor, The Advertiser August 18, 2020

The Olympic Dam mine in South Australia’s Far North has increased its full year loss and is on the lookout for a new leader, global miner BHP has announced.

In reporting its full year results, BHP said Olympic Dam, which produces copper, uranium, gold and silver, had made a full year loss before interest and tax of $US79 million, on revenues of $US1.463 billion.

This is up from a loss the previous financial year of $US58 million on revenues of $1.351 billion.

The mine last reported a profit, of $US39 million off revenues of $US1.255 billion in 2017-18, and has for many years underperformed in comparison with BHP’s high-margin assets such as Western Australian iron ore………

BHP also announced Laura Tyler – asset president Olympic Dam since 2018 – would be promoted to chief technical officer, and a new leader would be sought for the mine…….

“A replacement for the Asset President Olympic Dam will be the subject a future announcement.’’In the interim, Justin Bauer, currently general manager surface development & planning, will become acting asset president……..

But the company is yet to give solid commitments around timelines, financial investments and job numbers for the expansion, as it continues work on internal feasibility studies.

August 20, 2020 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment