Paladin Energy’scontaminating uranium operations, controversy over Anvil and state repression in Congo, MRC’s exit from its Xolobeni titanium project on South Africa’s Wild Coast following the murder of anti-mining advocateBazooka Rhadebe earlier this year.
The list goes ever on and the details – some of which are documented in a powerful report by the International Consortium of Independent Journalists – are deeply disturbing.
The absence of a robust regulatory regime in many African countries can see situations where Australian companies are engaged in activities that would not be acceptable practise at home
Stories of corruption, dirty dealing and corner cutting are not uncommon in the world of mining and resource extraction, especially in the developing or majority world. It is a tough trade where the high-visibility clothing is often in stark contrast to the lack of transparency surrounding payments and practises.
But as a major industry gathering takes place this week in Perth it is time for a genuine look at whether Australian resource companies are supporting the growth of fledgling democracies or literally undermining them.
No doubt the tall tales will flow along with the cocktails at the Africa Down Under mining conference, an annual event that sees Australian politicians join their African counterparts alongside a melange of miners, merchants and media. Continue reading
Energy Resources of Australia slashes asset values, The Age, Brian Robins 30 Aug 16 Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia has been forced to slash the value of its assets by $161 million, almost equal to the company’s remaining sharemarket value.
With its controversial Ranger mine, which is surrounded by the Kakadu National Park, scheduled to close within five years, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) had questioned the way ERA valued its assets in its December 31, 2015 financial report.
The miner had now conceded that the value at which it carried the Ranger mine assets in its books “exceeded fair value”, ASIC said in a statement on Tuesday.
ERA pointed to weakness in the uranium oxide price at a time when the mine had only a five-year life left, without an extension of its authority to mine, as reasons for booking the impairment.
The write-down compares with ERA’s sharemarket worth of just $173 million, which signals deep-seated investor pessimism over its prospects in light of the traditional land owners’ opposition to extending the operation of the mine.
In the June half, ERA lost $35.2 million, which blew out to $196.5 million following the write-down. Revenue slipped to $170.5 million from $185.8 million due to the weak uranium price……..
ASIC had queried the company’s use of a single discount rate when valuing its assets. ERA has agreed to use different valuation techniques for the mining and rehabilitation of the site, for example.
ERA’s biggest single asset is its accumulated losses, which now total $822.8 million and tower over the value of its dwindling equity of $273.4 million.
Indigenous people living in the area have a bad history with uranium developments. It’s a few hundred kilometres from Cundalee, the mission where Spinifex people from the Great Victoria Desert were placed after being pushed off their traditional lands by the British government’s nuclear testing program in Maralinga, South Australia, in the 1950s and 60s
Pilanguru people to fight on as uranium mine gets environmental approval
Traditional owners say the Indigenous community has not been adequately consulted about Vimy Resources’ planned Mulga Rock open-pit mine, Guardian, Calla Wahlquist, 15 Aug 16, Traditional owners have vowed to fight a proposed uranium mine at Mulga Rock, about 240km west of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, which was given conditional environmental approval on Monday.
The Environmental Protection Authority of WA recommended the Barnett government approve construction of the open-pit mine and uranium processing plant, operated by Perth-based Vimy Resources Limited, after a three-month public environmental review. Continue reading
The winning argument against the mine A joint submission was provided to the Yeelirrie Public Environment Review by the Conservation Council of WA, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth Australia, The Wilderness Society, the Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA, the West Australia Nuclear Free
Alliance and the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance.
Amongst other points, they called for the project to be rejected “on the grounds that the Yeelirrie Subterranean Community, a Priority 1 Ecological Community (PEC) comprises a series of highly endemic, diverse stygofauna and troglofauna species within multiple calcrete habitats). The impacts of the proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine, predominantly the associated groundwater drawdown, pose an unacceptable risk that could see a number of subterranean species become extinct (particularly 15 species that are currently only known from the direct impact zone).”
The EPA decision was based on the impacts on subterranean fauna, and disregarded other points made in the submission.
The Wongutha Traditional Owners have been fighting this project for over 40 years.
WA EPA rejects proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine, Online Opinion, By Mara Bonacci – posted Tuesday, 16 August 2016 After nearly 3,000 people lodged submissions with the Western Australian EPA in opposition to the proposed uranium mine at Yeelirrie, on August 3 the EPA recommended that the project be rejected. Traditional Owners and environmentalists welcomed the decision, but remain wary……. Continue reading
Western Australia’s EPA approves Vimy uranium mine, but Conservation Council and Aborigines oppose it
Vimy Resources uranium mine east of Kalgoorlie given environmental approval, ABC News, By Laura Gartry , 16 Aug 16, A new uranium mine in Western Australia’s Goldfields has been recommended for approval by the state’s environmental watchdog, just weeks after a similar proposal in the area was knocked back.
The Environmental Protection Authority [EPA] granted the approval for Vimy Resources’ Mulga Rock uranium project, which is 240 kilometres east-north-east of Kalgoorlie, subject to a range of conditions.
Final approval is still required from both the state and federal environment ministers…….
Earlier this month, the EPA rejected Cameco Australia’s Yeelirrie uranium project after it deemed there was too much risk to the area’s subterranean fauna.
The Canadian company had sought to mine up to 7,500 tonnes of UOC per year from the Yeelirrie deposit, about 420 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and 70 kilometres south-west of Wiluna.
The proposal had attracted protests, including from traditional owner and chair of WA nuclear free alliance Kado Muir, who argued there was no broad community support for uranium mining in WA…….
More than 1,000 submissions were received during the 12-week public review period…….
Two other WA uranium projects have received EPA and ministerial approval in recent years, including the Wiluna uranium mine and the Kintyre uranium project, 270 kilometres north east of Newman.
Vimy Resources faces many hurdles and road blocks and today’s EPA recommendation is a long way from a green light for mining yellow cake at Mulga Rock,” Council campaigner Mia Pepper said.
Pila Nguru Aboriginal Corporation chair Bruce Hogan said the site was culturally significant. “We don’t want that mine to go ahead. We will fight against that mine at Mulga Rock,” Mr Hogan said.
Spinifex Pilki elder Sandra Evans said traditional owners from the Great Victoria Desert area were not consulted properly. “There are a lot of women’s sites there – they didn’t come to talk to the tribal women from there about clearing the grass trees and other special places,” she said.
“Uranium is different to other minerals – it’s dangerous. If it leaves our country and goes somewhere else – that’s still our responsibility, we worry about that.”
The EPA’s report is open for a two-week public appeal period.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-15/epa-approves-uranium-mine-near-kalgoorlie/7734798
WA EPA rejects proposed Yeelirrie uranium mine, Online Opinion, By Mara Bonacci – posted Tuesday, 16 August 2016 “…….Yeelirrie is located 420 km north of Kalgoorlie in the mid-west region of WA, the land of the Wongutha people. Yeelirrie is the name of a local sheep station and, in the local Aboriginal language, means “place of death”.
In 1973 Western Mining Corporation (WMC) found a uranium deposit there. The Yeelirrie Mine Proposal was submitted to the WA Department of Conservation and Environment in 1979. The proposal was for the development of an open cut mine, ore treatment plant, town and ancillary services and 850 employees. Environmental approval was given by both state and federal governments.
Trial mines were dug in the 1980s, which found the first large scale calcrete orebody in the world. It is estimated that around 195 tonnes of yellowcake were mined in these trials. WMC spent $35 million preparing to develop the mine until the 1983 federal election and subsequent implementation of the ALPs “three mines policy” in 1984, limiting Australia’s number of uranium mines to three.
In 2005, the mine was acquired from WMC by BHP Billiton, who concluded one stage of exploration mining. Then in 2012, Canadian mining company Cameco bought the deposit from BHP for $430 million….
Cameco’s Yeelirrie mine proposal includes:
- A 9 km long, 1.5 km wide and 10 m deep open pit mine
- 14 million tonnes of overburden
- Using 8.7 million litres of water a day
- Producing 7,500 tonnes per year of uranium (10 percent of annual world demand)
- To be transported by four road trains a week
- It would produce 126,000 tonnes per year of CO2 emissions
- 36 million tonnes of tailings stored in the open pit2,421 hectares would be cleared
- 22 years of operation
- Highly variable work force – average of 300………http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18451&page=1
Environment groups and Traditional Owners have vowed to fight the proposed Mulga Rock uranium mine, 260 kilometres north-east of Kalgoorlie, despite today’s recommendation by the state EPA that the Environment Minister approve the mine.
Environment groups and Traditional Owners said the mine threatened the pristine environmentally and culturally significant area.
Bruce Hogan from the Council of Tribal Elders and Chair of Pilanguru Native Title Group said “We use to go out there with our Elders. We can’t see how this mine could go ahead. The seven sister’s tjukupa (dreaming) goes through there and the two wadis (lore men) went through that area too. The elders use to take us there for cultural practice, they would leave us there for a few days and then come back to pick us up. We don’t want that mine to go ahead. We will fight against that mine at Mulga Rock.”
Conservation Council Nuclear Free Campaigner Mia Pepper said “Conservation groups will be lodging an official appeal against this recommendation by the EPA.
“The Mulga Rock uranium proposal is unsafe and unwanted. The company has continually dismissed the cultural values and importance of the area and has failed to properly consult with Traditional Owners.”
“The Mulga Rock area is a rare and significant environment and part of the Yellow Sandplain Priority Ecological Community. The planned mine threatens a number of rare and endangered species. Taking this unique and pristine desert ecosystem and turning it into a polluted, radioactive uranium mine is not a proposal that should ever be entertained” Ms Pepper concluded.
“The planned mine does not enjoy bi-partisan state political support, broad social license or favourable market conditions,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.
“Vimy Resources faces many hurdles and roadblocks. Today’s EPA recommendation is a long way from a green light for mining yellow cake at Mulga Rock.”
Traditional Owners welcome Yeelirrie decision and re-affirm anti uranium mining position https://nuclearfree.wordpress.com/media/ 4th August 2016
“Traditional Owners at Yeelirrie have fought against uranium mining for over 40 years.
The decision from the EPA comes as welcome relief but Traditional Owners remain wary.
“Richard Evans Koara elder and co-founder of the West Australian Nuclear Free Alliance has said “The EPA decision to protect subterranean fauna is a good decision and the right decision and we are happy with the outcome.
But we believe the EPA has underestimated the risk to bush foods, public health and water and most importantly our cultural heritage and our community’s opposition to the mine.”
“I invite the Minister (who has never spoken to us before) to come and meet with us the Traditional Owners of Yeelirrie before making a decision about our country. No Minister has come to talk to us about that country.
Yeelirrie is an important place in our culture, it is a dreaming site it important to us and other tribes around us.
In the short time since WA was colonised there have been drastic changes to the ecosystem and the country.” …
“It’s not just about protecting this country for us – but uranium threatens communities and country from the cradle to the grave, at home and overseas.
This is our responsibility and we take that responsibility seriously. We have to leave this poison where it is.” … “
The Greens have urged WA Environment minister Albert Jacobs to uphold the EPA’s advice to reject the controversial Yeelirrie uranium in the Goldfields of WA.
“The Yeelirrie uranium mine was first proposed in the 1970’s and has faced strong local and state wide community opposition for decades,” said Greens nuclear spokesperson Scott Ludlam.
“Today’s decision by the EPA should be the final nail in a proposal that should never have seen the light of day.
“The onus is now on Albert Jacobs to score a rare win for the WA environment and shut this proposal down once and for all.”
Senator Ludlam congratulated pastoralists, anti-nuclear campaigners and local Traditional Owners for their tireless work to oppose a project that would have been an environmental disaster.
Paladin cops ASX query over deals The West Australian on July 22, 2016, Paladin Energy has been forced to halt trading of its shares after a query from the Australian Securities Exchange demanding more information about $US200 million worth of deals flagged to the market yesterday.
Paladin did not outline the additional information requested by the ASX, but yesterday’s announcement was notable in that it did not give the name of the party offering to pay $US175 million for 24 per cent of its Langer Heinrich uranium mine in Namibia.
Paladin said yesterday the agreement was non-binding and that “key terms of this proposed transaction remain confidential, including the identity of the counterparty”.
Paladin promised yesterday to disclose details as the deal firmed up, including the identity of the buyer.
But the ASX has been on the warpath over non-disclosure of counterparties to major funding deals since the Padbury Mining scandal in 2014, when shares in the market tiddler surged after it said funding had been “secured” from an unnamed party that would supposedly deliver $US6.5 billion to build the Oakajee port and rail project…….Paladin shares closed down 3.5¢ to 20.5¢ on the announcement yesterday. https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/32125776/paladin-cops-asx-query-over-deals/#page1
Paladin sold down despite $US200m in deals Peter Klinger – The West Australian on July 21, 2016 Investors have failed to applaud news from debt-laden Paladin Energy that it had struck almost $US200 million worth of deals, including offloading a big slice of its flagship Langer Heinrich uranium mine.
The news also includes a plan to sell 75 per cent of the undeveloped Manyingee uranium project east of Onslow to Chinese-backed, ASX listed tin miner MGT Resources for up to $US30 million. The Manyingee deal does not include the Carley Bore deposit.
The proposed sale of a 24 per cent stake of Langer Heinrich, in Namibia, to an unnamed party for $US175 million is the main plank of Paladin’s long-awaited debt reduction plan.
The Perth company, which remains one of the world’s few pure-play uranium producers but is fighting to remain viable because of the nuclear fuel’s long-term depressed price, has $US212 million in convertible bonds due in April next year.
Paladin is refusing to name the “major participant in the global nuclear power industry” which will buy the stake, which will cut Paladin’s interest in its only operating asset to 51 per cent.
But analysts will be focusing on China National Nuclear Corporation, which bought 25 per cent of Langer Heinrich for $US190 million two years ago.
The lack of clarity or certainty around the Langer Heinrich sale saw Paladin shares fall 2.5 cents, or 10.42 per cent, to 21.5 cents at noon on solid turnover this morning.
“The parties are using their best endeavours to prepare definitive documentation for formal execution, including (a) sale and purchase agreement, shareholders agreement, and documentation for the uranium off-take arrangements,” Paladin said.
“Paladin is working towards a formal close of the transaction in the fourth quarter (of this year). Other than set out in this announcement, the other key terms of this proposed transaction remain confidential, including the identity of the counterparty.” https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/32114763/paladin-sold-down-despite-us200m-in-deals/#page1
Uranium is the dirty underbelly of nuclear – scientist , Engineering News, BY: NEWS24WIRE, 21 july 16 Anti nuclear sentiment tends to focus on nuclear waste or operational risks, but more focus should be on the “dirty underbelly” of uranium mining, according to a science adviser.
“Whenever people get excited about nuclear power stations, they kind of forget where the actual uranium comes from,”Dr Stefan Cramer, science adviser for environmentalist groupSafcei, told Fin24 in an interview recently.
“Nuclear is a fallacy, both economically and environmentally,” Cramer, who was born in Germany but not now lives in Graaff-Reinet, claimed. “Uranium mining is the dirty underbelly of this whole nuclearcycle,” he said. “It’s where it all starts.”
“One must stop nuclear industries in (their) tracks because it leaves future generations with an immeasurable task and legacy,” he said. “The best point to start is at the source, where the whole cycle of nuclear technology begins, and that is at uranium mining.
“Uranium mining is very much the dirtiest part of the entire industry.” Anti-uranium mining boost
Cramer’s focus on anti-uranium mining was given a boost this month when Australian company Tasman Pacific Minerals Limited said it is downsizing its mining application in South Africa by almost 90%.
“Overall, the area covered by Tasman’s new and existing mining right and prospecting right applications in the Western and Eastern Cape will reduce by almost 300 000 ha to approximately 465 000 ha,” it said…… http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/uranium-is-the-dirty-underbelly-of-nuclear-scientist-2016-07-21
According to IBISWorld Australia’s uranium sector employs less than a thousand people and it generates around $700 million in sales. The uranium industry accounts for 0.01% (0.0084%) of jobs in Australia and in the 20131/14 financial year accounted for 0.19% of national export revenue. It is a sector that has promised much and delivered little.
But this hasn’t stopped the Minerals Council from pumping funds into poorly advised social and hard media campaigns of late to try to breathe life into the comatose uranium sector.
Australia’s nuclear-powered PR in meltdown, Independent Australia, 14 July 2016 With nuclear energy take-up shrinking post Fukushima, Australia continues to ignore the UN’s call for an independent cost-benefit analysis of our high risk-low return uranium trade. ACF’s Dave Sweeney examines the continuing spin by the MCA. “…… the changed status of Australia’s embattled uranium sector.
“Fukushima changed everything.” This might sound like a line from the anti-nuclear lobby but it is a direct quote from BHP, the world’s biggest miner. And they are right.
The Fukushima disaster was directly fuelled by Australian uranium and increasingly its impacts are being directly felt by the Australian uranium sector.
In the continuing shadow of Fukushima nuclear powers contribution to the global energy mix is shrinking and has been eclipsed by renewables, and with over 200 reactor shut-downs due by 2040, the industry will have to run hard just to stay put.
The related uranium market meltdown has been severe and seen prices, profits and employment numbers go south. Continue reading
Production for the period, characterised by a further fall in the already depressed spot price for uranium to $US26.40 a pound, slumped 18 per cent to 489 tonnes.
The 68 per cent-owned Rio Tinto subsidiary had been reduced to treating stockpiled material and was accumulating cash to cover the estimated rehabilitation cost of the mine, inside Kakadu, of more than $500 million.
Recently it reported it was holding cash of $433m, prompting Rio to offer a $100m credit facility to ensure rehabilitation costs were met…….
ERA had been planning to extend its mine life by developing the Ranger 3 Deeps deposit, but Rio and the traditional owners did not support the plan, meaning ERA’s existing Ranger authority to operate is set to end in 2021.
ERA has nevertheless preserved the option of an eventual development of Ranger 3 Deeps by committing to spending about $4m annually on care and maintenance of the exploration decline and related infrastructure.
The option was the key finding of the group’s strategic review, released in May, after it was clear the support of Rio and the traditional owners was not forthcoming.
Rio’s no-interest rehabilitation credit facility came with the condition that ERA did not seek to extend production at Ranger beyond 2020 by developing the Ranger 3 Deeps.
ERA previously said that while it expected to fully fund the rehabilitation, it might have to draw on the Rio funding in some situations…..http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/companies/era-uranium-output-slumps/news-story/08e7df8b9a063dc6c8baa203d471f0ff
Toro signs native title deal for Wiluna, Yahoo News Jarrod Lucas, Kalgoorlie – The West Australian on July 7, 2016 Uranium hopeful Toro Energy has signed a native title agreement with the traditional owners of its proposed Wiluna mine.
It comes as Toro waits on the Environmental Protection Authority’s verdict on Wiluna after a three-month public review process was completed in February.
Wiluna is one of three Goldfields uranium projects — alongside Vimy Resources’ Mulga Rock project and WA’s biggest deposit, the Cameco- owned Yeelirrie — which are awaiting EPA approval.
The agreement with the Tarlka Matuwa Piarku Aboriginal Corporation, the native title holding body of the Wiluna people, recognises opportunities for a range of business and employment initiatives.
Toro’s managing director Vanessa Guthrie said the agreement was reached after more than seven years of relationship building with the Wiluna people……….
In July 2013 the Federal Court determined their native claim over almost 48,000sqkm, including the Millipede, Centipede and Lake Way uranium deposits which Toro plans to mine. The Wiluna project also takes in the Lake Maitland deposit, where mining would begin six years into the 20-year project life.There is currently no native title claim over Lake Maitland, but Toro has been engaging with the Barwidgee people who claim an interest.
The Liberal Government overturned a ban on uranium mining in 2008, but WA has not produced a single pound of yellowcake, with prices depressed since the 2011 Japanese tsunami sent the Fukushima plant into multiple meltdowns.
Wiluna became the first mine in WA to win State Government environmental approvals in October 2012 and Toro added Federal approval six months later. But the $35 million acquisition of the Lake Maitland deposit from Mega Uranium in mid-2013 meant Toro went back to the drawing board to win further approvals to add new deposits to the mine plan.
The situation is now delicately poised with Toro, Vimy and Cameco striving to win environmental approval before next year’s State election.
WA Labor remains opposed to the mining and export of uranium, but shadow mines minister Bill Johnston says the party would not over-turn approvals if it wins next year’s State election……….https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/32003739/toro-signs-native-title-deal-for-wiluna/