Antinuclear

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. https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20210407-left-wing-party-opposed-to-rare-earth-mining-project-wins-greenland-election 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

BHP, Rio Tinto given carte blanche to export uranium to global hotspots 

March 17, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, safety, uranium | Leave a comment

Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima 

Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima  https://theecologist.org/2021/mar/09/australian-uranium-fuelled-fukushima, Dr Jim Green, David Noonan 9th March 2021
The Fukushima disaster was fuelled by Australian uranium but lessons were not learned and the industry continues to fuel global nuclear insecurity with irresponsible uranium export policies.
Fukushima was an avoidable disaster, fuelled by Australian uranium and the hubris and profiteering of Japan’s nuclear industry in collusion with compromised regulators and captured bureaucracies.

The Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission ‒ established by the Japanese Parliament ‒ concluded in its 2012 report that the accident was “a profoundly man-made disaster that could and should have been foreseen and prevented” if not for “a multitude of errors and wilful negligence that left the Fukushima plant unprepared for the events of March 11”.

The accident was the result of “collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO”, the commission found.

Mining

But overseas suppliers who turned a blind eye to unacceptable nuclear risks in Japan have largely escaped scrutiny or blame. Australia’s uranium industry is a case in point.

Yuki Tanaka from the Hiroshima Peace Institute noted: “Japan is not the sole nation responsible for the current nuclear disaster. From the manufacture of the reactors by GE to provision of uranium by Canada, Australia and others, many nations are implicated.”

There is no dispute that Australian uranium was used in the Fukushima reactors. The mining companies won’t acknowledge that fact — instead they hide behind claims of “commercial confidentiality” and “security”.

But the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office acknowledged in October 2011 that: “We can confirm that Australian obligated nuclear material was at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in each of the reactors — maybe five out of six, or it could have been all of them”.

BHP and Rio Tinto, two of the world’s largest mining companies, supplied Australian uranium to TEPCO and that uranium was used to fuel Fukushima.

Tsunamis

The mining companies have failed to take any responsibility for the catastrophic impacts on Japanese society that resulted from the use of their uranium in a poorly managed, poorly regulated industry.

Moreover, the mining companies can’t claim ignorance. The warning signs were clear. Australia’s uranium industry did nothing as TEPCO and other Japanese nuclear companies lurched from scandal to scandal and accident to accident.

The uranium industry did nothing in 2002 when it was revealed that TEPCO had systematically and routinely falsified safety data and breached safety regulations for 25 years or more.

The uranium industry did nothing in 2007 when over 300 incidents of ‘malpractice’ at Japan’s nuclear plants were revealed – 104 of them at nuclear power plants.

It did nothing even as the ability of Japan’s nuclear plants to withstand earthquakes and tsunamis came under growing criticism from industry insiders and independent experts.

Vicious cycle

And the uranium industry did nothing about the multiple conflicts of interest plaguing Japanese nuclear regulators.

Mirarr senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula ‒ on whose land in the Northern Territory Rio Tinto’s Ranger mine operated ‒ said she was “deeply saddened” that uranium from Ranger was exported to Japanese nuclear companies including TEPCO.

No such humility from the uranium companies. They get tetchy at any suggestion of culpability, with the Australian Uranium Association describing it as “opportunism in the midst of human tragedy” and “utter nonsense”.

Yet, Australia could have played a role in breaking the vicious cycle of mismanagement in Japan’s nuclear industry by making uranium exports conditional on improved management of nuclear plants and tighter regulation.

Even a strong public statement of concern would have been heard by the Japanese utilities – unless it was understood to be rhetoric for public consumption – and it would have registered in the Japanese media.

Safety

But the uranium industry denied culpability and instead stuck its head in the sand. Since the industry is in denial about its role in fuelling the Fukushima disaster, there is no reason to believe that it will behave more responsibly in future.

Successive Australian governments did nothing about the unacceptable standards in Japan’s nuclear industry. Julia Gillard ‒ Australia’s Prime Minister at the time of the Fukushima disaster ‒ said the disaster “doesn’t have any impact on my thinking about uranium exports”.

Signification elements of Japan’s corrupt ‘nuclear village’ ‒ comprising industry, regulators, politicians and government agencies ‒ were back in control just a few years after the Fukushima disaster. Regulation remains problematic.

Add to that ageing reactors, and companies facing serious economic stress and intense competition, and there’s every reason for ongoing concern about nuclear safety in Japan.

Professor Yoshioka Hitoshi is a Kyushu University academic who served on the government’s 2011-12 Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations.

Regulation

They said in October 2015: “Unfortunately, the new regulatory regime is … inadequate to ensure the safety of Japan’s nuclear power facilities. The first problem is that the new safety standards on which the screening and inspection of facilities are to be based are simply too lax.

“While it is true that the new rules are based on international standards, the international standards themselves are predicated on the status quo.

“They have been set so as to be attainable by most of the reactors already in operation. In essence, the NRA made sure that all Japan’s existing reactors would be able to meet the new standards with the help of affordable piecemeal modifications ‒ back-fitting, in other words.”

In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon called for an independent cost-benefit inquiry into uranium trade. The Australian government failed to act.

Inadequate regulation was a root cause of the Fukushima disaster yet Australia has uranium supply agreements with numerous countries with demonstrably inadequate nuclear regulation, including ChinaIndiaRussia, the United StatesJapanSouth Korea, and Ukraine.

Overthrow

Likewise, Australian uranium companies and the government turn a blind eye to nuclear corruption scandals in countries with uranium supply agreements: South Korea, India, Russia and Ukraine among others.

Indeed, Australia has signed up to expand its uranium trade to sell into insecure regions.

In 2011 ‒ the same year as the Fukushima disaster ‒ the Australian government agreed to allow uranium exports to India.

This despite inadequate nuclear regulation in India, and despite India’s ongoing expansion of its nuclear weaponry and delivery capabilities.

A uranium supply agreement with the United Arab Emirates was concluded in 2013 despite the obvious risks of selling uranium into a politically and militarily volatile region where nuclear facilities have repeatedly been targeted by adversaries intent on stopping covert nuclear weapons programs. Australia was planning uranium sales to the Shah of Iran months before his overthrow in 1979.

Forced labour

A uranium supply agreement with Ukraine was concluded in 2016 despite a host of safety and security concerns, and the inability of the International Atomic Energy Agency to carry out safeguards inspections in regions annexed by Russia.

In 2014, Australia banned uranium sales to Russia, with then 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.”

Australia’s uranium supply agreement with China, concluded in 2006, has not been reviewed despite abundant evidence of inadequate nuclear safety standards, inadequate regulation, lack of transparency, repression of whistleblowers, world’s worst insurance and liability arrangements, security risks, and widespread corruption.

Civil society and NGO’s are campaigning to wind back Australia’s atomic exposures in the uranium trade with emphasis on uranium sales to China.

China’s human rights abuses and a range of strategic insecurity issues warrant a cessation of uranium sales. China’s ongoing human rights abuses in Tibet and mass detention and forced labour against Uyghurs in Xinjiang are severe breaches of international humanitarian law and UN Treaties.

Weapons

China proliferated nuclear weapons know-how to Pakistan, targets Australia in cyber-attacks, and is causing regional insecurity on the India border, in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and in the Pacific.

BHP’s Olympic Dam is the only company still selling Australian uranium into China. There is a case for the ‘Big Australian’ to forego uranium sales overall and an onus to end sales to China.

A federal Parliamentary Inquiry in Australia is investigating forced labour in China and the options for Australia to respond. A case is before this inquiry to disqualify China from supply of Australian uranium sales  – see submission 02 on human rights abuses and submission 02.1 on security risks.

Australia supplies uranium with scant regard for nuclear safety risks. Likewise, proliferation risks are given short shrift.

Australia has uranium export agreements with all of the ‘declared’ nuclear weapons states – the US, UK, China, France, Russia – although not one of them takes seriously its obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue disarmament in good faith.

Carte blanche

Australia claims to be working to discourage countries from producing fissile – explosive – material for nuclear bombs, but nonetheless exports uranium to countries blocking progress on the proposed Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.

And Australia gives Japan open-ended permission to separate and stockpile plutonium although that stockpiling fans regional proliferation risks and tensions in North-East Asia.

Despite liberal export policies, Australian uranium sales are in long-term decline and now represent only 8.9 percent of world uranium usage.

With the Ranger mine shut down and no longer processing ore for uranium exports, there are only two operating uranium mines in Australia: BHP’s Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine and the smaller General Atomics’ Beverley Four Mile operation ‒ both in South Australia.

Uranium accounts for less than 0.3 percent of Australia’s export revenue and less than 0.1 percent of all jobs in Australia.

One wonders why an industry that delivers so little is given carte blanche by the government to do as it pleases.

These Authors

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia. David Noonan is an independent environment campaigner. For further information on BHP’s Olympic Dam mine click here.

March 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, reference, uranium | Leave a comment

Australia must learn the lessons of Fukushima

Australia must learn the lessons of Fukushima   https://www.acf.org.au/we_must_learn_the_lessons_of_fukushimaDave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation’s nuclear free campaign, 11 March 21,

Ten years ago, the world held its breath, crossed its fingers and learnt a new word.

Fukushima went from being the name of a provincial Japanese city to global shorthand for a costly, contaminating and continuing nuclear disaster.

Fukushima means ‘fortunate island’ but the region’s luck melted down along with its reactors on March 11, 2011.

The Great Eastern earthquake and tsunami which rocked then inundated much of Japan’s eastern seaboard also swamped the defences of the Fukushima nuclear complex run by TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Corporation.

Against a backdrop of wailing sirens and crackling Geiger counters we witnessed mass evacuations, hundreds of billions of dollars in economic loss and radioactive contamination of the air, soil and ocean that continues today.

Japanese and international nuclear authorities have confirmed it will take at least three more decades to stabilise radioactive and waste issues at the site.

The most pressing of these is how to manage a large volume of contaminated water that is stored is hundreds of vast steel tanks and is growing daily.

The preferred company plan – to dump this untreated contaminated water directly into the Pacific – is generating growing concern among Japanese coastal communities, not to mention outrage in Korea and the wider region.

In August 2012, a year after the initial disaster, I joined a delegation of international environmental monitors and public health experts to visit the Fukushima region.

We saw and spoke with ordinary people whose lives had been extraordinarily disrupted.

We drove through countryside and towns that had been emptied of people and hope.

We met with elderly evacuees in temporary housing who understood that they would never return home.

The words of Hasegawa Kenichi, a Fukushima dairy farmer who lost his herd and his livelihood, remain in my head. ‘It is important to make sure that what is happening in Fukushima is not forgotten.’

As pro-nuclear politicians and industry associations seek to distract from their inaction on meaningful efforts to address climate change by once more banging the drum for domestic nuclear power, we need to remember these words – and the deep reality that lies behind them.

Especially in Australia.

In October 2011 the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s nuclear bureau formally confirmed that Australian uranium was routinely sold to the corner-cutting TEPCO and was fuelling the Fukushima complex at the time of the disaster.

Australian radioactive rocks are the source of Fukushima’s fallout.

As home to around 35% of the world’s uranium reserves, Australia has been a significant player in the global nuclear trade.

But, aptly enough, Australia’s uranium sector was hard hit by the market fallout from Fukushima.

In the last 10 years the global commodity price has flatlined, projects have been shelved, abandoned or placed in perpetual ‘care and maintenance’.

Australia’s longest operating uranium mine, the Ranger project in Kakadu, closed forever in January this year.

This brought an end to the controversial Kakadu mining chapter and has left mine owner Rio Tinto with a billion dollar clean up challenge that is attracting scrutiny from across Australia and around the world.

Australia’s uranium sector has long been constrained by political uncertainty, an absence of social license and strong First Nations and wider community resistance.

The industry’s prevailing business model seems to be to get the paperwork in order, cultivate friends in Canberra and wait in hope for better times.

But those times are unlikely to ever arrive.

The sector never really made sense and now it doesn’t even make dollars. The years since Fukushima have seen a dramatic decline in the popularity of nuclear power and a global surge in renewable energy projects and production.

Australia’s uranium sector is high risk and low return.

It leaves polluted mine sites at home and drives nuclear risk and insecurity abroad.

And it fuelled Fukushima – a profound environmental, economic and human disaster that continues to negatively impact lives in Japan and far beyond.

On this tenth anniversary it is time to honour Kenichi-san’s plea that the world not forget Fukushima.

We need a credible and independent review of the real costs and consequences of Australia’s uranium trade.

It is well past time for Australian politicians of all stripes to accept that we are in a period of irreversible transformation and that our shared energy future is renewable, not radioactive.

Read A joint statement from the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Electrical Trades Union.

March 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium | Leave a comment

Time that Australia looks beyond uranium mining, and towards rehabilitation of the environment

K-A, Nuclear Free Community Campaigner, 11 Mar 21, 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.

WA’s four proposed uranium mines and the 85 exploration sites have been unable to develop into 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 the 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.

Fukushima, ten years after the devastating Tsunami and subsequent multiple reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is still one of the most radioactive places on earth. It remains a profound human, economic and environmental tragedy 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.”

 

 

March 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium | Leave a comment

The remediation of Ranger uranium mine: will it really restore the environment?

Traditional owners were given land rights in return for their support for the Ranger mine, and Kakadu National Park was born.   ……. the land will finally be returned to the traditional owners… the question is, in what state?  ………    we could find the site an eroding heap of substandard scrub.    

As part of cleaning up the mine site, contaminated buildings and equipment will be buried in one of the mine’s enormous pits.    

  We’ve been told that burying the equipment and the contaminated material in the mine site is out of step with global best practice in the mining industry.

February 25, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Mediation continuing over rehabilitation of Range uranium mine

Mediation continues behind closed doors, but the case is a clear reminder that commitments are not set in stone and that clean-up funding for even the most environmentally destructive projects is not guaranteed.

While national and/or state law jurisdictions regulate specific requirements for closure and associated financial assurance, which also determine the period of rehabilitation, it is essential that members of the mining community are aware of applicable law and regulation in all jurisdictions of operation……….

“In the context of price volatility, investment shifts and now Covid-19, many major companies have been mothballing operations and selling mines to juniors, smaller and/or less resourced companies around the world. The most notable may be Blair Athol coal mine in Queensland, sold for $1 in 2016.”

The socio-economic and financial arrangements for closure agreements are especially important in order to avoid dumping the costs on taxpayers and society .

How long should a miner commit to oversight?  https://www.mining-technology.com/news/mining-rio-tinto/   Yoana Cholteeva11 February 2021 

A subsidiary of Rio Tinto is currently in mediation  with the Australian Government over continuing commitments to scientific monitoring of the Ranger mine. We examine the dispute and take a look at some positive examples of land remediation.

Land rehabilitation as part of mining oversight is an essential process where the land in a mining area is returned to some degree of its former state. Recently, a new dispute over the rehabilitation of the Ranger Uranium Mine in the Northern Territory of Australia, owned by a Rio Tinto subsidiary, once again reignited the debate over how long a miner should maintain oversight once operations have stopped.

Rio Tinto’s oversight dilemma

Continue reading

February 18, 2021 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Solar, storage to take over from Ranger uranium mine

February 18, 2021 Posted by | Northern Territory, solar, storage, uranium | Leave a comment

Clean-up plan for Ranger uranium mine is ”woefully inadequate”

Gundjeihmi and ERA enter negotiations to extend Ranger Uranium Mine rehabilitation

By https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-01-09/gundjeihmi-era-negotiate-ranger-uranium-mine-rehabilitation/13043076 Matt Garrick

An Aboriginal group in Kakadu National Park says the rehabilitation plan for a decommissioned uranium mine is “woefully inadequate”, and is calling for a 26-year extension to the process.

Key points:

  • Mining at the Ranger Uranium Mine wound up yesterday after more than 40 years
  • Traditional owners in Kakadu are now calling for an extension of the project’s rehabilitation phase
  • The company that runs the mine has signalled its support for the move

Production at the Ranger Uranium Mine, on the outskirts of the national park, drew to a close yesterday after more than 40 years of operation.

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents Mirarr traditional owners, has used the closure to demand owner Energy Resources Australia (ERA) rehabilitate the site beyond its current lease expiry in 2026.

Within that timeframe, the company is required to restore the site to its previous pristine state.

“That’s not long enough,” the corporation’s CEO, Justin O’Brien, said.

“We are now awaiting a drafting from the Commonwealth Government for amendments to the Atomic Energy Act such that you can actually put in place an extension to the rehabilitation period.”

Mr O’Brien said traditional owners were pushing for the rehabilitation period to be extended by an additional 26 years, which would carry the process through until 2052.

He said ERA and its parent company, Rio Tinto, had signalled their support for an extended term of rehabilitation — but the timeframe and details of that extension are still being negotiated.

In a statement, the company said it was committed to “achieving all documented rehabilitation outcomes in its Mine Closure Plan (MCP) by January 2026”.

It confirmed negotiations were underway with traditional owners to “determine an appropriate mechanism” to extend the company’s tenure at the Ranger site, which would allow it to continue rehabilitation beyond 2026.

Environmental group the Australian Conservation Foundation yesterday welcomed the end of production at the site, the last active uranium mine in the Northern Territory.

The foundation’s Dave Sweeney, who is an anti-nuclear campaigner, said he was supportive of the push to extend the rehabilitation period.

“The company should not be approaching clean-up asking itself what it can do in five years,” he said.

“It should be approaching clean-up asking ‘What is the best possible way to reduce and address the damage that has happened?’

“What’s the best outcome — not the best outcome we can do in five years.”

The wind-down of production at the mine is expected to prompt an exodus from the nearby town of Jabiru, where ERA holds the lease for about 300 houses.

One hundred and twenty-five ERA staff were made redundant this week.

January 10, 2021 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

End of an ERA: four decades of radioactive risk come to an end at Kakadu

Over 40 years of high-impact uranium mining and processing at Energy Resources of Australia’s (ERA) Ranger mine in Kakadu ends today.

Australia’s longest-running uranium operation was licensed to operate until January 8, 2021.

“This is a very good day for Kakadu, the Northern Territory and Australia,” Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney said.

“The Ranger mine has generated controversy, headlines and heartache for four decades. The focus must now be on ERA and parent company Rio Tinto doing comprehensive and credible site rehabilitation and supporting the transition to a post-mining regional economy.

“Today we should also acknowledge the sustained efforts of the Mirarr Traditional Owners and the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation to protect their country and culture from the impacts of mining.

“The Mirarr opposed the Ranger mine 40 years ago, led a successful campaign to stop ERA developing a further mine at nearby Jabiluka 20 years ago, and are now driving the re-shaping of a culture- and conservation-based local economy.

“Plans for cleaning up the site of the Ranger mine are being hampered by an unrealistic rehabilitation time frame, funding uncertainty, and fears about a tailings dam leaking toxic contaminants into the surrounding national park.

Closing Ranger, protecting Kakadu, a recent report co-authored by ACF, also found data deficiencies and technical issues, particularly around groundwater and tailings management.

“Australia has a long history of sub-standard mine rehabilitation in both the uranium and wider mining sectors. A far better approach and outcome is needed at Ranger. This work is a key test of the commitment of ERA and Rio Tinto, as well as the NT and federal governments.”

January 9, 2021 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Ranger Danger: Rio Tinto Faces Its Nuclear Test in Kakadu Uranium

December 17, 2020 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Unfinished Business: Rehabilitating the Ranger Uranium Mine 

December 17, 2020 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

The end of the uranium mining era leaves Jabiru with some social and housing problems

NT mine closure has Jabiru community anxious about an uncertain future, and some are already leaving,   https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-12-13/nt-jabiru-housing-uncertainty-as-uranium-mine-end-nears/12975950,  By Matt Garrick
  Packing her life away into boxes and preparing to shift out of her small Northern Territory town has had an emotional impact on Denise House — but it’s not the feeling she expected.

Key points:

  • The Ranger uranium mine will cease operations on January 9
  • Dozens of mining families are expected to leave town in coming months
  • Future rental prices and the standard of the town’s housing remains “unknown”

“It’s funny because I don’t feel like I’m leaving yet, although we know we are. There’s a date, we’ve already got our flights booked and everything,” Ms House said.

“But I’m sure there will be tears.”

The House family is among an exodus of families preparing to up stumps and leave Jabiru — a mining town on the edge of Kakadu National Park with a population of just over 1,000 people — as mining operations officially cease on January 9, 2021.

The vision is for Jabiru to eventually be turned into an Indigenous-run tourism town and service hub.

The entity set up to help handle the transition, Jabiru Kabolkmakmen Limited (JKL), is among those conceding the town faces a huge challenge in the coming year. Continue reading

December 14, 2020 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Australian Government Productivity Commission Report fails to realise the complexity of environmental problems in uranium mining

Mia Pepper, Conservation Council of Western Australia, (CCWA) 10 Dec 20, The Productivity Commission Report has been released.
The CCWA had put in a detailed submission on uranium – in response to the Minerals Council of Australia attempts to reduce federal oversight of uranium mine projects. The overall terms for the PC report was to identify best practice regulation – while removing impediments to investment. (emphasis on removing impediments to investment – sigh).
The short take home message for us: is that the Productivity Commission (PC) echoes calls, initially made through the EPBC Act Review process, that ARPANSA become the regulator for uranium mines, removing the need for EPBC approvals.
This is narrow – it suggests the only problems or issues with uranium mines are related to radiation – the issues are much more complex and need environmental regulators not just radiation expertise.
There is pressure from MCA and AMEC to remove the ‘nuclear trigger’ because they say it impacts on Rare Earths and Minerals sands assessments and approvals – this didn’t get much traction by the PC but was a segue to supporting calls that ARPANSA become the federal regulator and remove the need for the Environment Department to asses or approve uranium project.
This fits with the larger Federal government agenda to remove federal approval requirements through setting up bilateral agreements with all the states and territories to defer powers to the State governments to both assess and approve projects that trigger federal intervention – like all uranium mines do. This is coming up before the Senate – but a majority of senators are set to block this and are calling for the Federal Government to release the final EPBC review report.
The long version with extracts from the PC report: Continue reading

December 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium | Leave a comment

No uranium or thorium mining for Victoria

Victoria blocks prospect for uranium mining, Australian Mining,    Salomae Haselgrove  

November 30, 2020   Victoria’s Legislative Council Environment and Planning committee has flagged that it is unlikely that the state will change its stance on uranium mining……..

According to the report, the current Australian market for uranium or thorium products is receiving enough supply via international imports and the Lucas Heights open-pool Australian lightwater (OPAL) reactor in Sydney.

“In this report, the committee makes no recommendations and does not take a strong position on nuclear power as an alternative energy source in Australia and particularly in Victoria,” the committee stated…..

The committee is not convinced that uranium and thorium exploration activities are economically or technologically viable in Victoria.

This was backed up by comments from the Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia) infectious diseases physician Tilman Ruff, who said export earnings did not even cover employment costs for miners.

“The industry has for over a decade never cracked close to $1 billion a year in export income,” Ruff said.

“They are a relatively small cohort. It employs, on the most recent estimates I have seen, a maximum of about 700 people.”

From the three operational uranium mines in Australia – Olympic Dam and Four Mile in South Australia and Ranger in the Northern Territory, which is closing in January – all uranium products are exported.

At present, the assessment and approval process for ministerial permission to develop a uranium mine takes at least three years.

With Victoria’s solid uranium mining ban, the Minerals Council of Australia stated that “Victoria effectively sends a message there is no point in investors considering Victoria in relation to uranium”…. https://www.australianmining.com.au/news/further-uranium-mining-unlikely-to-be-taken-up-in-australia/

December 1, 2020 Posted by | politics, uranium, Victoria | Leave a comment