Australian news, and some related international items

Memo to Energy Resources of Australia : You have one job – clean up Kakadu uranium mess 26 Apr 23

Northern Territory and national environment groups have a clear message for Energy Resources Australia at ERA’s annual meeting in Darwin: focus on repair.

ERA is the former uranium mining company that operated the controversial Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu for 40 years, until the cessation of commercial operations in 2021.

The company, majority (86%) owned by Rio Tinto, is now responsible for delivering Australia’s costliest and most complex mine rehabilitation project.

ERA also holds the nearby Jabiluka mineral lease – the site of sustained and successful protest by the Mirarr Traditional Owners and civil society supporters from across Australia and around the world.

Despite Rio’s clear acknowledgement that any possible mining window for Jabiluka is now firmly closed, ERA continues to promote Jabiluka as an asset.

“Rio Tinto has formally accepted there is no credible business case or pathway to advance mining at Jabiluka,” said Environment Centre NT analyst Naish Gawen.

“Rio has stated it will no longer report a Mineral Resource for Jabiluka. It’s time for ERA to do the same.”

Environmentalists inside and outside the meeting will urge the ERA Board to drop the fiction of drilling at Jabiluka and address the fact of required repair at Ranger.

“Repairing the heavily impacted Ranger site is ERA’s legal responsibility,” said ACF’s nuclear policy analyst Dave Sweeney.

“ERA and Rio Tinto will be closely watched and long judged on their performance of this responsibility.”

April 27, 2023 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

ERA hopes to raise $369 million to continue rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine in Kakad

ERA hopes to raise $369 million to continue rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu The operator of a decommissioned uranium mine in Kakadu National Park is hoping to raise $369 million to continue paying for rehabilitation, with its current funds due to be exhausted by the end of September. Energy Resources Australia (ERA) has been trying to find enough money to return the Ranger uranium mine, 250 kilometres east of Darwin, to its pre-mining state, after operations shut in January 2020.

April 7, 2023 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Upurli Upurli people say no to uranium mining at Mulga Rock, Western Australia

Sam Wainwright, Perth, November 28, 2022

Nuclear Free WA protested outside Deep Yellow’s annual general meeting on November 25 against the company’s plans to mine uranium at Mulga Rock, north west of Kalgoorlie. The Upurli Upurli traditional owners absolutely oppose it.

Deep Yellow holds the only uranium deposit in Western Australia. This was the company’s first AGM following its merger in August with Vimy Resources.

Mia Pepper, Nuclear Free Campaigner at the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA), who has been tracking the mine plans for more than 10 years, said it faces more opposition than ever.

Deep Yellow does not have “any agreement with the Native Title claim groups” and “it doesn’t have the finance”, she said.

It has just started a third Definitive Feasibility Study into the beleaguered project, expected to be completed mid-2024. The latest project delay casts further doubt on the future of the site, campaigners said.

“Deep Yellow is the only company beating the uranium drum in Western Australia and even their own executive team has been clear they have no intention to mine at the current uranium price,” Pepper said.

“For a company with a highly speculative business model, no operating mines, many regulatory hurdles still to clear, and a sizeable pricing disincentive, it’s astounding that shareholders would endorse the proposed remuneration package for the Deep Yellow executive team, with the CEO alone receiving over $1 million,” she continued

First Nations communities have been continuing their protests.

WA Greens Legislative Council member Brad Pettitt read a statement in parliament on November 17 on behalf of Upurli Upurli and Spinifex women.

“We are Upurli Upurli and Spinifex women and we are writing because we face the unprecedented threat of uranium mining at Mulga Rock, east of Kalgoorlie … We have been saying no to uranium mining at Mulga Rock for a long time”

Their statement also detailed concerns about Deep Yellow’s executive who held senior roles in companies responsible for the destruction of Juukan Gorge, as well as several incidents of environmental pollution, industrial relations controversies and workplace fatalities at uranium mines in Malawi and Namibia.

The CCWA is delivering a WA Uranium Free Charter to WA MPs. It demands they “review and remove any approval for uranium mining at Mulga Rock” as well as withdraw the approvals of the stalled proposed uranium mines at Kintyre, Yeelirrie and Wiluna.


November 29, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Why does Australia still sell uranium to China?

‘Target Oz’: Defence Strategic Review must address nuclear risks, Pearls and Irritations, By David Noonan, Nov 3, 2022“…………… War with China is in open debate. China has potential to attack Australia with nuclear weapons.

Australia banned sale of uranium to Russia in 2014with Prime Minister Tony Abbott stating:

Australia has no intention of selling uranium to a country which is so obviously in breach of international law as Russia currently is.”

China should be disqualified from receiving Australian uranium sales given China’s severe breaches of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law against the Uighur and Tibetan peoples.

I have campaigned against uranium sales to China “Uranium policy a hypocrisy” (Opinion, The Age & SMH, 5 Oct 2009) and raised Human Rights cases:

“Australian uranium will effectively disappear off the safeguards radar on arrival in China, a country whose military is inextricably linked to the civilian nuclear sector and where nuclear whistle-blowers and critics are brutally suppressed and jailed. This alone is reason to disqualify China from acquiring Australian uranium.”

The routine “substitution” of Australian uranium in China, and the Illusion of Protection in ASNO safeguards, warrant an exit from uranium sales to China.

Transparency is a core pre-requisite to any ‘trust’ in nuclear issues but is sorely lacking in China.

BHP Olympic Dam is the only outfit still selling Australian uranium to China.

At best this frees up China to divert its own limited supply of uranium for use in its military nuclear regime, at worst, it directly contributes to nuclear weapons. This is a Defence Review issue.

Australia has no leverage on China and must end our exposure in BHP’s risky uranium sales to China.

November 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium | Leave a comment

Energy Resources of Australia’s investor Willy Packer completely wrong on Jabiluka uranium Blair, 10 Oct 122, The Mirarr Traditional Owners of the Ranger Uranium Mine totally reject the commentary of Energy Resources of Australia minor investor Willy Packer as completely wrong. Like ERA’s former Independent Board Committee, Mr Packer mistakenly considers the question of Jabiluka’s development as simply being about Traditional Owner consent.

Representing the Mirarr, the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) seeks to bring clarity to the debate, including correcting misunderstandings about the contemporary significance of cultural heritage, insurmountable environmental and technical challenges at the site and the true costs of mining in the Kakadu region.

“It is simply wrong to say that anyone can just change their mind about Jabiluka in the future. This place is unique, Kakadu is World Heritage listed because of its value to the whole world. This isn’t about Traditional Owners agreeing to mining, they are defending heritage that matters to all of us. It is also wrong to ignore the fact that mining at Ranger produced a two-billion dollar clean-up bill. This is not just something interesting for valuers to toss around. What Packer wants is offensive to the majority of Australians,” CEO of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation Justin O’Brien said.

“It’s also wrong to ignore the scale of the rehabilitation. The task is massive. ERA must rehabilitate Ranger to a standard such that it may be incorporated into the surrounding national park. The company is obliged, among other requirements, to physically separate tailings from the environment for 10,000 years.

“Further mining in Kakadu National Park would be insane,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr Packer has raised the prospect of the compensation of ERA’s minority shareholders. “Mr Packer is asking to be compensated for his wager on an impossible project. It’s nonsensical and contrary to standard business risk. This is why investors shouldn’t and don’t run mining companies.

“We are living in the 21st century; iconic cultural heritage of international significance is not up for negotiation. Our hearts go out to the Traditional Owners at Juukan Gorge. Their loss has focused the nation and indeed the international investment community on supporting Traditional Owners and protecting cultural heritage. Everyone wants to ensure Kakadu National Park is protected.

“Mr Packer needs to stop blaming Rio Tinto for his own ignorance about cultural heritage.  Of course, Rio Tinto, now knows better after Juukan Gorge.”

Mr O’Brien said the role of directors within ERA is to be perfectly honest with the market, including all minor investors. “Unlike many other proposed projects on Aboriginal land, Jabiluka is utterly impossible – it is unfeasible both culturally and technically. Rio Tinto has acknowledged this. It is hardly a secret.

“Mr Packer has complained of something having gone “terribly wrong” with his gamble at Jabiluka. In fact, the only thing ‘terribly wrong’ has been the false hope of ignorant investors.”

October 10, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Energy Resources of Australia’s chairman, two directors, say they’ll resign after pressure from Rio Tinto and traditional owners By Daniel Fitzgerald,

The chairman and two directors of a company responsible for cleaning up a massive uranium mine on the edge of Kakadu have announced their intention to resign, following pressure from its major shareholder, Rio Tinto, and criticism from traditional owners.

Key points:

  • Energy Resources of Australia is responsible for the clean-up of Ranger uranium mine, on the edge of Kakadu
  • Its chairman and two directors have announced their intention to resign, after pressure from Rio Tinto 
  • It comes after a commissioned report suggested the company could consider developing a second uranium mine in the region

Rio Tinto on Monday publicly called for Energy Resources of Australia’s (ERA) chairman Peter Mansell to resign, four days after an independent report commissioned by the company suggested it could consider developing a second uranium mine next to Kakadu National Park.

Mirarr traditional owners have long objected to the potential mining of the ERA-owned Jabiluka uranium deposit — a position which Rio Tinto supports — and fiercely rejected the suggestion they might allow it to be mined.

Mr Mansell and two other directors not affiliated with Rio Tinto this afternoon said they would resign, “once a clear funding solution” for the cash-strapped company is arrived at.

In a statement to the ASX, ERA said the three board members would resign, “noting the requests from Rio Tinto” for Mr Mansell to consider his position.

Mine clean-up could cost $1.2 billion more than expected

ERA said the directors notified Rio Tinto of their intention to resign last week, before Rio Tinto’s public announcement.

Earlier this year, ERA estimated rehabilitation works could cost up to $1.2 billion more than expected and take workers until 2028 to complete the job — two years longer than initially planned.

Rio Tinto chief executive Australia, Kellie Parker said the company was committed to the rehabilitation of the Ranger mine “in a way that is consistent with the wishes of the Mirarr people”.

“However, given our recent dealings with the Independent Board Committee [IBC] and last week’s release of the Grant Thornton valuation report, we do not believe that can be achieved without renewal within ERA’s board,” Ms Parker said.

“There remains a strong difference of opinion between Rio Tinto and the IBC on the terms of rehabilitation funding, with the IBC’s view that successful rehabilitation could underpin potential future growth opportunities, despite the Mirarr people’s long-held opposition to further uranium mining on their country.”

Justin O’Brien, the chief executive of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirarr people, said the Commonwealth may need to step in to ensure the safe clean-up of Ranger.

“We are extremely concerned that the Commonwealth is relying on a company that has publicly announced it does not have the funds to complete the rehabilitation work,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This public stoush over whether or not ‘magical’ uranium deposits in a World Heritage listed wetland and indigenous cultural landscape should be mined is a question of national public policy.”

On June 30, ERA had $132 million cash in hand and $537 million held by the Commonwealth government in a trust fund for the Ranger rehabilitation.

Rio Tinto said while a funding solution for the rehabilitation was being agreed, the company was “progressing discussions to amend an existing $100 million credit facility to assist ERA with its management of immediate liquidity issues”.

An ERA report released in August said cost overruns on the Ranger rehabilitation “have been caused by a number of factors including complexities in technical risk management, project delays and additional scope matters involving unbudgeted costs”.

Legislation was introduced to Federal parliament last month to grant ERA an extension to its rehabilitation schedule.

October 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Ranger Mine uranium-contaminated waste trucked to Darwin suburb.

finding 50 kg of uranium tailings waste off-site is not a “small scale” event as claimed by ERA, and near three months for this radioactive event to make the media…

Potentially ‘deadly’ toxic waste accidentally trucked into Darwin

Energy Resources Australia is investigating how Ranger Mine toxic waste came to be transported through the Kakadu National Park and left on a truck in a Darwin suburb.

RADIOACTIVE waste has been transported through Kakadu National Park and left on a truck in Winnellie.

In June an excavator at Ranger Mine used to dig uranium tailings, was removed from the site with 50kg of mixed material still inside the vehicle.

The removal of any toxic waste is a major breach of Energy Resources Australia’s Ranger Mine rehabilitation plan as it poses a deadly contamination risk to people and the environment.

According to Energy Resources Australia the compacted waste was in a steel encased void of an excavator and not detected by radiation screening before leaving the site………………………

Supervising Scientist Keith Taylor said the breach was “regrettable” but he was confident there was no risk posed to people or the environment.

“There have been other incidents of this nature, most notably the 2004 prosecution which is of public record,” he said.

“There have been others as well but that is the most notable.”

Mr Taylor said scientists and ERA were working together to review the ‘clearance processes,’ which includes a radiation screening.

Mirarr Traditional Owners and the NLC were made aware of the incident on June 3.

In February, ERA announced the rehabilitation plan for Ranger Mine had blown out to an estimated $1.2bn.

It left the company scrambling for cash and relying heavily on its major shareholder Rio Tinto.

August 27, 2022 Posted by | - incidents, Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Groups join together to sign WA Nuclear Free Charter against uranium mining

Neil Watkinson & Stuart McKinnon, Kalgoorlie Miner, Thu, 11 August 2022

Nineteen groups representing thousands of West Australians have signed a joint statement against uranium mining in WA.

Their pledge comes as a $658 million merger of uranium mining companies Deep Yellow and Vimy Resources was confirmed this month, alongside plans to advance their $393m Mulga Rock project 290km east-north-east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

The groups — which include trade unions, faith groups and conservation organisations — have expressed their support for the WA Nuclear Free Charter which calls on the WA Government to remove any outstanding approvals for uranium mining at four sites across the State.

Three of the four sites — Kintyre, Yeelirrie and Wiluna — have missed development deadlines for approvals, but Mulga Rock remains active after Vimy achieved “substantial commencement” from the the State Government in December.

The price for uranium fell into the doldrums following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, but the industry has been making much noise recently about a brighter future.

……………………….. Deep Yellow plans to revise and update a definitive feasibility study for Mulga Rock to include a base metals component, which was a condition of its original approval to develop the project.

The company also hopes to complete a definitive feasibility study for the company’s other project, Tumas in Namibia, by the end of the year.

Mulga Rock is expected to deliver 3.5 million pounds of uranium oxide per annum while Tumas is slated to produce 3Mlb a year.

But anti-uranium mining groups are marshalling themselves to continue fighting against the Mulga Rock project.

Signatories to the WA Nuclear Free Charter include UnionsWA and the WA branches of the Australian Manufacturers Workers Union, Electrical Trades Union, United Workers Union, State School Teachers Union, United Professional Firefighters Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, along with faith, health, and national and state environment organisations.

The charter describes uranium mining as “unwanted”, “uneconomic” and a “damaging and underperforming sector that unnecessarily risks our unique environment”.

Mia Pepper from the Conservation Council of WA — one of the many conservation groups to have endorsed the charter — urged the State Government to withdraw “expired and deficient” approvals for the four uranium mine proposals in WA.

“Consistently, the people of WA have said that they do not want uranium mining in their State,” she said.

“The current government, like many Labor governments before them, hold a strong clear position opposed to uranium mining because it puts workers, communities and the environment under threat.

“Now is the time to create lasting protections against uranium mining in WA by withdrawing outdated and deficient approvals.

“Uranium mining is different. It is radioactive, leaving behind long-lasting wastes which pose an ongoing threat to public health and the environment.

“No uranium mine in Australia has ever been successfully and completely rehabilitated.

“The Ranger uranium mine in the NT is undergoing a $2.2 billion clean-up, fortunately by a company with the money and resources to do so.

“In WA the one advancing uranium project — Mulga Rock — is being pushed by Deep Yellow . . . and we have no confidence they can do what bigger better resourced companies are failing to do.

“This government knows the risks, the costs and the legacy of this toxic trade which is why they have a strong anti-uranium policy.

“Along with unions, health, faith and environment groups we’re calling on the government to act now to put an end to uranium mining in WA.”

August 11, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Ask Fuzzy: Will Australia’s nuclear-propelled attack submarines require weapons grade fuel? By Richard Broinowski, July 24 2022 

Both Britain’s Astute and US Virginia boats use highly enriched weapons-grade uranium fuel in their reactor cells.

The fuel cells last as long as the submarines – about 30 years. The submarines don’t need refuelling during that time. These cells also allow the submarines to remain underwater indefinitely, only restricted by the endurance of their crews, which in turn depends on the amount of food they can carry.

The international nuclear non-proliferation regime could be compromised if other nuclear threshold countries, encouraged by Australia’s nuclear moves, acquire their own nuclear-propelled submarines. In fact, Brazil is already doing so. The bomb-grade uranium fuel could be clandestinely extracted from submarine cores to make nuclear weapons.

Some such countries could be encouraged to arm their nuclear-powered subs with nuclear weapons.

Australians living along our coastline (the majority) would be very uncomfortable if they had to host nuclear submarine bases in their electorates.

Given that Australia has no permanent storage for even low-level uranium waste, the government would find it extremely difficult to find even temporary locations for storing highly toxic and extremely long-lasting spent nuclear reactor cores.

While it is claimed that Virginia or Astute class attack submarines are far superior in speed and quietness to conventionally powered boats, this is untrue.

Most European navies, as well as those of Japan and South Korea, have quieter and nearly as fast conventionally powered submarines. They employ auxiliary air independent propulsion systems that extend their underwater endurance to 21 days or more.

Without the pumps needed to keep reactors cool on nuclear subs, they are much quieter; they are also much cheaper. Australia could purchase or build five or more such boats for the price of one Virginia or Astute boat.

We should not expect early delivery of our subs if the Americans or British are to build them, or even only their nuclear reactors.

We should have purchased Japanese Sohryu class submarines when we had the chance.

Australia would not retain sovereignty over American or British-acquired submarines. It does not have the technology to build its own nuclear propulsion units, and will be heavily reliant on either the British or (more likely) American technology.

This will bind the Navy even more closely to US strategic planning in the Pacific, especially in its plans to confront China.

Both countries are flat out building their own fast attack submarines. It is very doubtful either country would be prepared to make space on their assembly lines to accommodate early delivery of submarines for Australia.

  • Richard Broinowski AO is the author of Fact or Fission: the truth about Australia’s nuclear ambitions.

Listen to the Fuzzy Logic Science Show at 11am Sundays on 2XX 98.3FM.

Send your questions to Twitter@FuzzyLogicSci

July 25, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Global action urged to block AUKUS plan on transfer of nuclear materials

The submarine purchase, if realized, “will be the first time” after the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty went into force in 1970 that nuclear weapon states transfer tons of weapons-grade nuclear materials to a non-nuclear-weapon state

The plan is high on the agenda of the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which is scheduled to open in New York on Aug 1 By ZHANG YUNBI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-07-21,

A report written by leading Chinese nuclear security researchers urged the global community to use an upcoming global conference on nuclear nonproliferation to deter the collaboration of the United States and the United Kingdom to transfer weapons-grade nuclear materials through nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

“The weapons-grade nuclear materials to be transferred to Australia by the two countries would be sufficient to build as many as 64 to 80 nuclear weapons,” said Zhao Xuelin, a leading engineer at the China Institute of Nuclear Industry Strategy.

Such a move would be in “serious violation” of the objectives and purpose of the nonproliferation treaty and would cause enormous harm, he said.

“Washington has been busy building up blocs and small circles like AUKUS to shore up its overwhelming advantage in military areas and secure its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific and the whole world,” said Liu Chong, director of the Institute of International Security of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

“Such moves have run counter to many countries’ need to seek common security. The trilateral bloc’s members seek their own security at the cost of the other countries, sabotaging global security,” he added.

Zhang Yan, president of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, noted that the AUKUS partnership is a new political and military alliance that serves the US’ “Indo-Pacific Strategy”, which aims to provoke regional confrontation and step up a geopolitical zero-sum game.

The submarine purchase, if realized, “will be the first time” after the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty went into force in 1970 that nuclear weapon states transfer tons of weapons-grade nuclear materials to a non-nuclear-weapon state, Zhang said.

“The US, the UK and Australia should seriously respond to the concerns of the international community and earnestly fulfill their obligations under international law,” he added.

Pan Qilong, chairman of the China Institute of Nuclear Industry Strategy, said the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine collaboration sets a dangerous example of illegal transfer of weapons-grade nuclear materials.

Such a “blatant act of nuclear proliferation” has triggered widespread concern and criticism from the international community, he added

The US, Britain and Australia should “stop taking double standards” and halt their collaboration on nuclear-powered submarines, said the research report issued on Wednesday in Beijing.

Two leading Chinese nuclear research agencies-the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association and the China Institute of Nuclear Industry Strategy-issued the report.

“The international community should take action to urge the AUKUS countries to revoke their wrong decision, and jointly safeguard the integrity, authority and effectiveness of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime,” the report said.

The research report is the first of its kind made by Chinese think tanks focused on the collaboration of the three nations, and it offers abundant evidence and data to prove how the AUKUS countries-Australia, the UK and the US-affect the international nuclear nonproliferation system and stir up the arms race, Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday.

The report is the latest proof that the international community’s concerns on AUKUS collaboration “are well-founded by facts”, he added.

Washington, London and Canberra built the AUKUS trilateral security partnership last year. That prompted anger within and outside the Asia-Pacific region as they announced a plan to allow Australia to purchase nuclear-powered submarines from the UK.

The plan is high on the agenda of the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which is scheduled to open in New York on Aug 1.

The conference, a top-level global meeting that aims to prevent a nuclear arms race and checks on the status quo of nuclear materials around the world, has been delayed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

July 19, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Uranium is losing the new energy market battle.

Uranium is losing the new energy market battle. Uranium is being bypassed
in the rush to embrace renewable wind and solar energy sources, leaving
nuclear power floundering well short of its once anticipated potential.

 Mining Journal 14th July 2022

July 14, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

ERA looks at funding options for Ranger June 27, 2022 Ray Chan Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) is reviewing all available options to ensure that the forecast increase in the cost of rehabilitation of its Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory will be adequately funded.

In January 2021, ERA – in which Rio Tinto holds 86.3 per cent shares – ceased all mining and processing activities at Ranger after 40 years of operation. It was Australia’s longest continually operating uranium oxide producer.

ERA said it was committed to delivering a positive legacy for Traditional Owners and for all Australians for the future, with its closure plan outlining the path for progressive rehabilitation, which began in 1981, with final rehabilitation to be completed by January 2026.

But given ERA’s current cash on hand position, it said an urgent interim funding solution was required.

The company is engaging with its substantial shareholders in relation to a potential interim entitlement offer to raise ongoing funding for the rehabilitation of the project, the size, price and structure of which are still to be determined.

The operations of ERA are located on Aboriginal land and surrounded by, but separate from, Kakadu National Park. ERA respectfully acknowledges the Mirarr, Traditional Custodians of the land on which the Ranger project area is situated.

During its lifetime, Ranger produced in excess of 132,000 tonnes of uranium oxide.

June 28, 2022 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

A big win for Yeelirrie — Beyond Nuclear International

Indigenous community keeps door closed to uranium mining in Australia

A big win for Yeelirrie — Beyond Nuclear International Cameco delays mean uranium mining permit not extended
By Maggie Wood, Acting Executive Director, Conservation Council of Western Australia
On April 6, we celebrated a huge step forward in our sustained campaign to keep the door closed to uranium mining in Yeelirrie. 
The Minister for Environment has rejected an application by the Canadian mining company Cameco to extend their environmental approval for the Yeelirrie uranium mine. 

The approval was controversially granted in 2017 in the dying days of the Barnett government and required Cameco to commence mining within five years. They have failed to do this and now they have failed in their bid to have this time extended.

This is a huge win for the local area, the communities nearby and for life itself. The special and unique lives of the smallest of creatures, endemic subterranean fauna found nowhere else on earth, would have most likely been made extinct had this project gone ahead, according to the WA EPA. 

For over five decades Traditional Custodians from the Yeelirrie area have fought to protect their Country and community from uranium mining. Over this time they have stood up and overcome three major multinational mining companies – WMC, BHP and now Cameco.

We have stood united with communities to say no to uranium mining and this consistent rejection of the nuclear industry in WA has helped secure the sensible decision to not extend the approval.

“It is possible to stand up to multinational companies and stop major mining projects from destroying sacred lands and environments – we do that from a base of strength in unity and purpose, from persistent and consistent actions and most of all perseverance against all odds to stand up for what is right …” – Kado Muir, Tjiwarl Traditional Custodian.

And this couldn’t have happened without you. Hundreds of supporters like you have spent time on country with Traditional Custodians – listening, walking, connecting with country and standing up for a nuclear free future. Traditional Custodians, unions, faith groups, health groups, environmental groups, the WA and Australian Greens and WA Labor – we’ve all had a big part to play. 

Thank you to everyone who has stood up, spoken out, donated, walked, written letters, signed petitions and online actions, bought artwork and t-shirts, volunteered, and organised to say no to uranium mining.

The campaign to protect Yeelirrie is not entirely over. While the approvals can’t be acted on currently, they do still exist, and an amendment could be made by a future government giving Cameco the greenlight to mine.

This is why we are now calling on the State Government to withdraw approvals for Yeelirrie along with expired approvals for Cameco’s Pilbara proposal at Kintyre and Toro Energy’s Wiluna uranium proposal. Doing this would be consistent with WA Labor’s policy and community expectations and – as Vicki Abdullah says – is the next step to a lasting solution.

“We’re really glad to hear the news that Yeelirrie’s approval has not been extended. It was a bad decision in the first place and after years in court and fighting to defend our country this news is a great relief. We will really celebrate properly when this government withdraws approvals altogether and then we can have more confidence the threat is over…” – . – Vicki Abdullah, Tjiwarl Traditional Custodian.

June 27, 2022 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Stop Deep Yellow: No uranium mining on Upurli Upurli Nguratja country The Mulga Rock uranium project is the only uranium proposal being advanced in WA. The project is uneconomic, unwanted and unnecessary.

Mulga Rock is on Upurli Upurli Nguratja country in the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological community in the Great Victoria Desert (GVD) and home to the endangered Sandhill Dunnart – one of three remaining areas where the species is found in Australia. The area is also home to the endangered Southern Marsupial Mole the vulnerable Crest Tailed Mulgara and Desert Skink, the migratory Rainbow Bee-Eater and many other priority species. 

Vimy Resources are seeking to merge with uranium miner Deep Yellow. Deep Yellow’s leadership is a cause for Deep concern. Their Chairperson Chris Salisbury was the Iron Ore boss at Rio Tinto during the Juukan Gorge destruction. Deep Yellow’s Managing Director John Borshoff was the Director of uranium company Paladin. During his leadership there were ongoing reports of industrial disputes worker fatalities and environmental concerns. 

“I worry about that country and what effect uranium mining would have on it, there is no other area like it. Once that’s destroyed and poisoned well how can you replace all that. It’ll be gone forever.” Janice Scott – Nangaanya-ku 

There is a registered Native Title Claim over the area – Upurli Upurli Nguratja. Vimy have routinely undermined Native Title interests in the area and have failed to meet the claim group. The Spinifex people who are descendants of some of Australia’s first environmental refugees who fled South Australia during the British atomic weapons tests between 1956 and 1963 and settled near Mulga Rock first at Cundallee then Coonana and then Tjutjuntjarra. There are strong connections to the area and a strong history of impact and resistance to the nuclear industry.   

“We don’t want uranium mining. We’ve written to government to let them know we the Traditional Owners have not been consulted. The current clearing at the site is disrespectful and shows a total lack of social value, moral and ethical leadership.” Debbie Carmody – Upurli Upurli Nguratja 

The Proposal: 

  • Four open pits, strip mined and backfilled
  • Licensed to take 15 million litres of water per day
  • Would produce 32 million tonnes of radioactive mine waste
  • Would clear 3,709 ha of native vegetation
  • Located in the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community, known as one of the most pristine areas in the Great Victoria Desert.
  • Home to the endangered Sandhill Dunnart
  • Upstream from the Queen Victoria A Class Nature Reserve

May 28, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Cameco Corp still set on WA uranium mine, despite government knockback, Indigenous opposition

ABC Goldfields /  By Sean Tarek Goodwin, 14 Apr 2022

A multinational mining company says it remains committed to a controversial uranium project in WA, despite the state government declining to extend its environmental approval. 

Key points:

  • The WA Environment Minister has rejected an application to extend approval for a uranium mine near Wiluna
  • Traditional owners and conservationists say the decision is a relief, after half a century of opposition
  • The company says it is still determined to bring the project forward in the future

A multinational mining company says it remains committed to a controversial uranium project in WA, despite the state government declining to extend its environmental approval. 

Canada-based Cameco Corporation spent US$430 million acquiring the Yeelirrie uranium deposit, near Wiluna in the northern Goldfields, in 2012.

It is one of the largest uranium deposits in the country. 

Earlier this year, the project’s approval expired due to a failure to commence work.

Last week, WA Environment Minister Reece Whitby denied the firm’s application to have the approval extended.

Relief for traditional owners and conservationists

The Conservation Council of WA and Tjiwarl traditional owners welcomed that decision, after 50 years of campaigning against the project.

Traditional owner Vicky Abdullah said it meant a “threat” was over. 

It was a bad decision in the first place and after years in court and fighting to defend our country this news is a great relief,” Ms Abdullah said. 

Other conservationists also welcomed the decision.

“This is an important and responsible decision and is a further signal to the uranium sector that they’re not welcome in WA,” Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation said. 

Cameco said it has also had a similar application for its Kintyre project in the Pilbara knocked back. 

Conservation Council Nuclear Free campaigner Mia Pepper said uranium mining had no future in WA. 

“Cameco has clearly shown that there is no economic case to mine uranium in WA, with the 2016 writedown of the Kintyre uranium proposal and the clear decision not to advance Yeelirrie,” Ms Pepper said. 

But one mine, at Mulga Rock, also in the Goldfields region is pushing forward.

“There is a lesson here for Vimy Resources and their investors – who are bucking the trend and are continuing to throw more money at their beleaguered Mulga Rock project – that mining uranium in WA is uneconomic,” Ms Pepper said.

Company not backing away

Cameco Corporation declined an interview with the ABC, but said market conditions had hindered the project. 

“Economic conditions and the state of the uranium market since the project was approved did not support significant expenditure on development activities,” communications director Jeff Hryhoriw said.

But the major mining company said it was committed to the long-term prospect of mining the mineral in WA. ……………………….

Project’s controversial history 

The ABC revealed last year the mine was approved by the former federal environment minister Melissa Price without key protections strongly and repeatedly recommended by the government’s own experts.

The approval occurred on the eve of the 2019 election, which most expected the government to lose.

An email from Cameco chief Simon Williamson to the federal government in the days before the 2019 federal election.(ABC )

Secret emails obtained by the ABC showed the approval occurred following intervention by Cameco and then-resources minister Matt Canavan, both of whom asked for the process to be expedited.

April 18, 2022 Posted by | politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment