Australian news, and some related international items

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

Conservation Council of Western Australia continue their long fight for the environment, and to stop uranium mining.

This week we are celebrating a huge step forward in our sustained campaign to keep the door closed to uranium mining in Yeelirrie.  We have received word that a request made by the Canadian mining company Cameco to extend the environmental approval for the Yeelirrie uranium project has been rejected by Minister for Environment Reece Whitby. In 2018 and 2019, we challenged this approval in court. Now it has expired and time is running out for the uranium trade in WA.

This is a huge win for the local area, the communities 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. 

We are now pushing for further protection. Under new provisions in the Environmental Protection Act s47A – Minister Whitby can withdraw approvals where the “commencement” condition has not been met. We are calling on the Minister to withdraw approvals for Yeelirrie, Wiluna and Kintyre – as all three projects have failed to meet these commencement conditions.  For over five decades Traditional Custodians from the Yeelirrie area have fought to protect the site from uranium mining.

Hundreds of supporters have spent time on country with Traditional Custodians, listening, walking, connecting with the country and standing up for a nuclear-free future. Traditional Owners, unions, faith groups, health groups, the WA and Australian Greens and WA Labor, and environment groups, we’ve all had a big part to play. For the full report and to heart what Traditional Owners, Kado Muir and Vicki Abdullah had to say please click here.

We are currently growing our campaign to protect Mulga Rock on Upurli Upurli Nguratja country, east of Kalgoorlie. This is WA’s one uranium project that has so far slipped through the next and last week through a merger this project is now being advanced by a team with links to the destruction at Juukan Gorge and dodgy mining operations in Malawi and Namibia. And we will continue to push for a withdrawal of approvals for Yeelirrie, Kintyre and Wiluna.

April 7, 2022 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison has been urged to act over fears Australian uranium could be used to fuel Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

Fears Australian uranium could be seized by Russia for nuclear weapons arsenal

Scott Morrison has been urged to act over fears Australian uranium could be used to fuel Russia’s nuclear arsenal., Alex Blair  9 Mar 22.

The Electrical Trades Union of Australia has called on Scott Morrison to take immediate action over Australian uranium in Ukraine, which analysts believe could be seized by Russia and used to fuel its nuclear weapons arsenal..

In a letter sent to the Prime Minister this week, the ETU highlighted its concerns over Australian obligated nuclear material (AONM) which has been transferred to Ukraine under the Australia-Ukraine Nuclear Cooperation Agreement.

The ETU is urging the Prime Minister to reveal details on any contingency plans set in place following Russia’s invasion, as the Australian government has an “obligation to create a plan for the removal of nuclear material if it is at risk of a loss of regulatory control”.

The ETU has also requested information on whether uranium that was transferred to Ukraine is still stored in the besieged nation.

“Amongst many other horrors, the war in Ukraine is painfully highlighting the inherent problems with nuclear power,” ETU National Assistant Secretary Michael Wright said.

“If Russia is able to gain control of Australian uranium in Ukraine, the fallout could be catastrophic.

“Australians have a right to know if Australian uranium is at risk and what our nation’s obligations are in the event of an incident.

“We not only have an obligation under our own agreement with Ukraine but we owe it to the global community to ensure these materials are protected – preferably by leaving them in the ground.”

It came as Russian President Vladimir Putin was accused of using nuclear “blackmail” to keep the international community from interfering in his Ukraine invasion.

“This is one of the scariest moments really when it comes to nuclear weapons,” Beatrice Fihn, who leads the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, told AFP in an interview on Tuesday.

The 40-year-old, who has spearheaded the group’s global efforts to ban the weapons of mass destruction since 2013, said she had never in her lifetime seen the nuclear threat level so high.“It is incredibly worrying and overwhelming.”

Just days after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of its pro-Western neighbour on February 24, Putin ordered his country’s nuclear forces to be put on high alert, sparking global alarm……………………………

March 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Directors net $3.7 million in selling off their Paladin Energy uranium shares, then uranium stocks plummet

Paladin directors narrowly avoid nuclear sell-off AstonColumnist,  Uranium miner Paladin Energy advised the Australian Securities Exchange on Monday that chairman Cliff Lawrenson and non-executive director Peter Watson had, between them, sold 4.5 million, or 55 per cent, of their shares in the company between February 28 and March 3, netting proceeds of $3.7 million.

Lawrenson’s broker secured an average out price of 84¢ while Watson had to settle for 81¢.

It was certainly an auspicious moment for the pair. That very evening, of March 3, Russian forces seized the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, but not before their shelling set it on fire, and uranium stocks dutifully plummeted across global markets.

On March 4, 154 million Paladin shares changed hands, crunching the share price down 15 per cent to 74¢. At one point in intraday trading, they were down 26 per cent.

Timing is everything, the old truism goes, and you can safely say about Lawrenson and Watson that their timing is the opposite of radioactive.

Lawrenson still has 2.1 million Paladin shares to his name while Watson has 1.6 million.

March 10, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Australian companies’ uranium shares plummet

ASX uranium shares plummet amid Ukraine power station attack. Motley Fool, A fire at Europe’s largest nuclear power station has uranium investors on edge… Mitchell Lawler   6 Mar 22, ASX-listed uranium shares are tumbling on Friday following reports of a fire at Ukraine’s largest nuclear power station ……..

The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is suffering a red session on Friday amid an intensification of the situation in Ukraine. However, ASX uranium shares are showing up as some of the hardest-hit companies of all on the Australian share market.

At present, many uranium producers and explorers are trading 10% to 20% lower. This follows reports that one of Ukraine’s nuclear power stations — the largest in Europe — is on fire as a consequence of Russian attacks.

………. with years of unattractive prices for the commodity, investments in creating new a new supply had been dampened.

However, with expectations of nuclear energy becoming a piece in the green transition puzzle, investors were willing to take a punt on ASX uranium shares.

That was until the latest development in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Companies copping the brunt of bad news

Currently, ASX uranium shares are being sold off hard. Here’s how some of these companies are tracking:


March 7, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium miner BHP under criticism for guzzling precious artesian water, and for not keeping its word to Aboriginal native title holders

Environment campaigner and consultant David Noonan, who provided submissions to the Juukan Inquiry, is sceptical of the desalination plant announcement.

Mr Noonan says even if it was built, BHP could be taking GAB water until the end of the decade. He wants to hear a formal commitment about alternative water sources.

Why BHP is facing a minefield, CHRIS MITCHELL, Adelaide Now, 4 Mar 22,

AUSTRALIA’S biggest company and the world’s secondbiggest miner, BHP, may disappoint conservationists and Aboriginal native title holders who had hoped for commitments to reform of heritage issues and underground water use at its Olympic Dam mine before the March 19 state election BHP, the Big Australian, with market capitalisation of $230bn, paid the state government royalties of $136m last year. Its Olympic Dam project 560km north of Adelaide is South Australia’s largest mining venture and the world’s biggest uranium mine, a global top-four copper mine and producer of gold and lead. BHP is powerful in SA.

Premier Steven Marshall is Aboriginal Affairs Minister but it would be fair to say native title holders do not wield the sort of power in Adelaide that big miners do.

Yet BHP has flagged some changes to the way it operates that could reduce its own power over its own asset.

Under the 1982 Roxby Downs (Indenture Ratification) Act signed with former mine owner Western Mining, BHP, which bought the mine in 2005, has almost unprecedented powers over resources and water within its 12,000sq km Stuart Shelf exploration lease.

BHP has been criticised by conservation groups and Aboriginal interests in last year’s report into rival Rio Tinto’s destruction of Juukan Gorge in Western Australia. The report includes criticism from the Arabana tribe of the mine’s heavy reliance on water from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB), and particularly from the so-called “Mound Springs” Aboriginal heritage sites north of the mine.

On February 15, The Advertiser revealed BHP would back a new $15m study, partly funded by state and federal governments, into a Spencer Gulf desalination plant to pump water to SA’s northern mines. But BHP is still far short of publicly committing to end its use of GAB water.

Conservationists say BHP is trying to control the water agenda, to maintain its privileges under the Indenture Act. But some hope it will be pragmatic enough to cut water demand from the GAB if it eventually decides to proceed with its Oak Dam copper-gold-uranium mine 65km southeast of Olympic.

Asked last week if BHP was formally committed to ending GAB water use, a spokesman said: “We continuously monitor and publicly report our water draw under a program approved by the SA government.”

BHP is not just under pressure for environmental reasons.

It is in discussion with three native title groups about the Olympic Dam Agreement it settled in 2008 with the Kokatha, Barngarla and Kuyani.

Of these, only the Kokatha have been granted formal native title over parts of BHP’s Stuart Shelf.

BHP’s problem now is how to balance the very valuable 40-year-old legal rights it has under the indenture with rights found in a native title determination in favour of the Kokatha in 2014……….

The Kokatha fought a long, 18-year battle to win their native title in 2014. Kokatha directors say dealing with BHP on the ODA before and after their native title court win has been challenging.

At this point, they are not receiving mining royalties and are unhappy with employment opportunities for Kokatha people.

Michael Turner, a former Kokatha director and current adviser on the Kokatha Native Title Compensation Settlement and Kokatha Charitable trusts, says he has been dealing with BHP for much of his adult life.

At this point, they are not receiving mining royalties and are unhappy with employment opportunities for Kokatha people………

negotiations on BHP’s Olympic Dam Agreement had been disappointing.

“We have been calling for a review of the ODA for many years and it has constantly been deferred,” he said.

“They’re refusing to move forward. It would be great if BHP could keep to its word and respect the wishes of the Kokatha people and review the ODA for the benefit of generations to come.”…………….

The final report into the May 24, 2020 destruction by Australia’s second-biggest miner, Rio Tinto, of the Juukan Caves in Western Australia’s Pilbara was released in October. In it, Arabana chair Brenda Underwood says: “Unfortunately, our springs are disappearing. The cause … is water taken from the GAB by BHP’s mine at Roxby Downs.”

BHP and the state government believe the springs remain healthy but environmentalists fear a possible expansion to the Oak Dam could take daily GAB water use well beyond 50 million litres a day. BHP says it is averaging 34 million litres a day.

Environment campaigner and consultant David Noonan, who provided submissions to the Juukan Inquiry, is sceptical of the desalination plant announcement.

Mr Noonan says even if it was built, BHP could be taking GAB water until the end of the decade. He wants to hear a formal commitment about alternative water sources.

BHP’s Aboriginal engagement team is mindful expectations have changed across the industry since Juukan and BHP will need to be seen to be engaging seriously with traditional owners. Some believe an ODA negotiated before the Kokatha achieved native title should be written off and a new agreement established………………………………………


March 5, 2022 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, South Australia, uranium, water | Leave a comment

Ranger uranium mine rehabilitation costs could blow out to $2.2 billion, Energy Resources tells ASX

Ranger uranium mine rehabilitation costs could blow out to $2.2 billion, Energy Resources tells ASX, Rural / By Daniel Fitzgerald  The rehabilitation of a decommissioned uranium mine in Kakadu National Park could cost up to $1.2 billion more than expected and take two years longer than initially planned. 

Key points:

  • Rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine to cost between $1.6 billion and $2.2 billion
  • Timeline of clean-up pushed out by two years 
  • Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation concerned ERA won’t be able to fund extra costs

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) — a subsidiary of mining giant Rio Tinto — shut down production at its Ranger uranium mine, 250 kilometres east of Darwin, in January last year and has since been working to return the mine site to its original state.

The rehabilitation was originally estimated at $973 million, but in a statement to the ASX on Wednesday, ERA revised costs to be approximately between $1.6 and $2.2 billion.

The company also said clean-up works could continue until the end of 2028, more than two years longer than planned.

The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents Mirarr traditional owners, had been seeking clarity on the expected cost blowouts from ERA.

“We knew it would cost more, but a doubling — to probably the biggest rehabilitation exercise in the history of Australian mining — took us by surprise,” chief executive Justin O’Brien said.

“It’s not good news, but at least we now have a much greater picture of the true cost.”

ERA’s statement outlined a number of reasons for the revised cost, including engineering issues, emerging technical risks and additional water treatment costs.

“It is a complex operation and it is in a very sensitive, world-heritage-listed national park, upstream of Aboriginal communities and the Arafura Sea,” Mr O’Brien said.

Federal changes needed to extend time frame

ERA’s current lease stipulates the company must complete the rehabilitation and be off the mine site by 2026, a condition legislated by the Atomic Energy Act 1953.

With the rehabilitation time frame now stretching into 2028, ERA said it “has been engaging with government and key stakeholders to amend the Atomic Energy Act 1953 and extend the expiry date of ERA’s tenure on the Ranger Project Area”.

Mr O’Brien said a two-year extension to the rehabilitation was “pretty ambitious”.

“If you’re going to amend the legislation in Canberra you don’t just do it for two years, you give them lots of space to do this,” he said.

“If they [ERA] relinquish within another 26 years, then fine.”

Can ERA afford the cost blowout?

In light of the cost revision, ERA said it was “currently reviewing all available funding options to ensure that the increased forecast cost of the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area will be adequately funded”.

As of December 31, 2021 the company had $699 million in cash funding and $535 million held by the Commonwealth government as part of the Ranger Rehabilitation Trust Fund.

ERA’s parent company, Rio Tinto said in a statement to the ASX, “it is committed to working with [ERA] to ensure the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area is successfully achieved to a standard that will establish an environment similar to the adjacent Kakadu National Park”.

February 3, 2022 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, environment, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment