Australian news, and some related international items

Flooding events highlight the danger to proposed uranium mining sites Yeelirrie and Wiluna

K-A Garlick at Nuclear Free WA

6 Feb 20, In an area where two uranium mines are proposed ~ Yeelirrie and Wiluna, there have been massive rain influx, leading to widespread floods across the Goldfields country.

Toro Energy Wiluna uranium project expands over two lake systems and over 100 kms. The project includes four uranium deposits – Lake Way, Centipede, Millipede and Lake Maitland.

The project proposal includes a high risk inappropriate site to attempt disposal of up to 50 million tonnes of radioactive tailings that would be stored in mined out pits on the edge of Lake Way in a floodplain and in the drainage channel of a creek.

The company’s studies of hydrogeology, hydrology and geochemistry were all heavily criticised in Peer Reviews submitted as part of the environmental assessment.  With these floods today, the planned emplacement of 50 million tonnes of long-lived radioactive mine waste in a floodplain poses a very serious risk to the environment and public health.

February 6, 2020 Posted by | climate change - global warming, safety, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Uranium prospects poor, but Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt and Northern Land Council agree on a new mine

January 27, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, uranium | 1 Comment

Honeymoon uranium mine might restart this year, and pigs might fly

Uranium miner flags restart at Honeymoon within a year if prices jump, others aren’t so sure, ABC BROKEN HILL BY DECLAN GOOCH AND SARA TOMEVSKA 22 Jan 2020, The company behind a proposal to restart uranium mining in north-east South Australia says it would be ready to begin production within a year if prices improve.

But the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has cast doubt on the likelihood of that occurring, arguing the market is moving away from uranium.

Key points:

  • Honeymoon is one of only four Australian uranium mines with an export licence but has been mothballed since 2013
  • New owner Boss Resources says technology will help it lower operational costs and will reopen the mine once uranium prices improve
  • Anti-nuclear campaigners doubt the mine’s prospects, saying significant uranium producers have been deferring or halting development

The Honeymoon uranium mine was mothballed in 2013 because it had become too expensive to run.

But in 2015, the mine, which is about 80 kilometres north-west of Broken Hill, was purchased by WA exploration company Boss Resources.

Boss chief executive Duncan Craib said the company had developed new technology to lower operational costs and had finalised a feasibility study.

He said the mine would reopen once uranium prices improved, which he was expecting to happen soon.

“We don’t want to destroy the resource at low uranium prices, so we’d like an uptick in the market before proceeding,” Mr Craib said.

Honeymoon is one of only four Australian uranium mines with an export licence.

However, Mr Craib said uranium was under-utilised in Australia and he would like to see a domestic uptake of nuclear power…….

Optimism baseless, campaigner says

Anti-nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney from the ACF said he believed the announcement was without substance.

“There is nothing new in their statement,” he said.

“It’s pretty much a holding-pattern statement from a mining company with not a lot of resources, not a lot of projects, that are trying to continue to hold a place in the market, where the market is increasingly in freefall.

“Obviously, Boss is going to say the uranium price is going to soar — they’re a uranium miner.

“We’ve got major producers in this country … We’ve got a third of the world’s uranium and we’re not digging much, and that is because the price is not there.

Mr Sweeney said significant producers were deferring or halting development.

Rio Tinto, a massive mining company, is exiting at the Ranger mine in Kakadu,” he said.

“Cameco, the world’s largest dedicated uranium producer, has written down an asset that it spent $500 million on a decade ago in WA, and says that the best way to preserve the value of uranium is to keep it in the ground.”……..

January 23, 2020 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

SA Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young slams investment in South Australian uranium mine

Honeymoon isn’t over: SA uranium mine to reopen, The Advertiser, 22 January 2020 A closed uranium mine near Broken Hill will be reopened to seize on a renewed demand, its owner says.

The Honeymoon uranium mine in the state’s east “will be Australia’s next uranium producer” following a $93 million restart, its owner Boss Resources says.

The ASX-listed company says the mine “can be fast-tracked to re-start production in 12 months with low capital intensity to seize an anticipated rally in the uranium market’’…..

The Honeymoon project uses “in-situ recovery”, which involves injecting solvent into wells drilled into the deposit, dissolving the uranium, then recovering it at the surface.  …..

SA Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the focus should be on renewables, not nuclear energy.

“South Australia doesn’t need to tether itself anymore to the toxic and dangerous cycle of the nuclear industry,’’ Ms Hanson-Young said

“SA is better than this and we are best placed in the world to reap the renewables and green industry revolution.

“Rather than a big new uranium mine, SA needs investment in our clean green energy industry. We should be working towards SA being a net exporter of renewable energy and technologies. ‘Green’ mining and industries like lithium for batteries, green hydrogen and renewable powered manufacturing will create jobs fit for the climate crisis Australia is in.”

Wilderness Society SA director Peter Owen said they would prefer to see investment in the state’s vast renewable resources such as wind and solar.

January 23, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, uranium | 1 Comment

Rio Tinto appeals Takeovers Panel decision on uranium miner ERA

Rio Tinto appeals Takeovers Panel decision on uranium miner ERA, THE AUSTRALIAN,    NICK EVANS, RESOURCE WRITER, 13 Dec 19, 

Rio Tinto has appealed a Takeovers Panel decision preventing it from taking complete control of uranium miner ERA, as the fallout from the company’s hard-ball tactics to fund the clean-up of the Ranger uranium mine continues.

The Takeovers Panel handed dissident ERA investor Richard Magides a moral victory on Wednesday, declaring ERA’s decision to accept a Rio offer to underwrite a $476m equity issue was made in “unacceptable circumstances”…...(subscribers only)


December 13, 2019 Posted by | business, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

BHP’s Olympic Dam expansion plan deserves serious attention and scrutiny

10 Dec 19, BHP is formally seeking to expand the Olympic Dam mine in northern South Australia and public comment on the federal EPBC referral – the Olympic Dam Resource Development Strategy – closes today.

Conservation SA, Friends of the Earth Australia and the Australian Conservation Foundation have sent a joint submission to the federal Environment department.

After today’s close of public comment the federal Minister has up to twenty business days to make a decision on the required level of assessment.

We maintain that the Olympic Dam expansion plan deserves serious attention and scrutiny for three key reasons: it involves the long lived and multi-faceted threat of uranium, it proposes to use massive amounts of finite underground water and the company is in trouble globally over the management of mine wastes and residues currently stored in multiple leaking – and sometimes catastrophically failing – tailings dams. BHP has identified and conceded that three of the existing Olympic Dam tailings dams are in the most severe global ‘extreme risk’ category.

The key recommendations from environment groups include:

  1. That BHP’s Olympic Dam operation be assessed in its entirety with the full range of project impacts subject to public consultation.

At a minimum, EPBC Act responsibilities to protect Matters of NES require that the BHP Olympic Dam Referral must be subject to a public environmental impact assessment process.

  1. A comprehensive Safety Risk Assessment is needed for all Olympic Dam mine tailings facilities.
  2. BHP must lodge a Bond to cover 100% of Olympic Dam rehabilitation liabilities.
  3. BHP must stop the use of evaporation ponds to reduce mortality in protected bird species.

These issues are further explored in detailed project briefing papers linked with the joint groups submission.

David Noonan – the submission author is available to provide further issue background on 0414 519 419

The comments below are attributable to ACF spokesperson Dave Sweeney (0408 317 812):

“As the world’s largest miner BHP has a responsibility to adopt best practise standards to every aspect of its Olympic Dam operation, including transparency, rigour and extent of assessment.

“A federal review when BHP wanted to expand Olympic Dam as an open cut mine earlier this decade made clear recommendations about the need to assess the projects cumulative impacts – this approach must be reflected in the current federal consideration of BHP’s proposal.

“Uranium is a unique mineral and risk and is always contested and contaminating.

“The global uranium price remains depressed after Fukushima and BHP should actively model a project configuration where uranium is not part of Olympic Dam’s mineral products.”

(note: there is direct DFAT confirmation that Australian uranium was inside Fukushima when the reactors failed: Australian uranium fuelled Fukushima’s fallout)

“Any increase in the footprint of Olympic Dam would mean an increase in the complexity and cost of future clean up and rehabilitation.

“Cleaning up a uranium mine is never easy and always costly – BHP must be required to ensure there is the dedicated financial capacity to fund this clean-up work – it cannot be allowed to become a future burden to the SA taxpayer or wider community.

“Existing federal government standards require the Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu to isolate its radioactive tailings for at least 10,000 years. The same standard must be applied at Olympic Dam – especially as BHP has confirmed that three of Olympic Dam’s existing tailings dam are in the global ‘extreme risk’ category. There should be no new pressure on this already compromised tailings management system without comprehensive and independent review.”

December 10, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

BHP’s plan to take yet more water for huge copper-uranium mine

The federal government is inviting public comment on BHP’s proposed expansion of the Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine (ODM) until Tues. 10 Dec 2019.

BHP plans to increase extraction of precious Great Artesian Basin water to an average 50 million litres per day for the next 25 years, with likely serious adverse impacts on the unique and fragile Mound Springs ‒ which are listed as an Endangered Ecological Community and are of significant cultural importance to Aboriginal people.

Please make a brief submission to the Federal Minister for Environment. You can use our pro-forma submission and just add your name (and you can add any additional comments you like).

More information:

December 5, 2019 Posted by | environment, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Traditional Aboriginal owners will not give up fight against planned WA uranium mine, despite legal loss

December 5, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Three Tjiwarl women from WA’s goldfields win conservation award for uranium mine campaign  29 Nov 19, Over the decades they have seen off at least three mining companies, including BHP, and in the process they have given strength and courage to their own community and many others.”

Three Tjiwarl women, Shirley Wonyabong, Elizabeth Wonyabong and Vicki Abdullah, have been awarded the 2019 Peter Rawlinson Award for their decades-long campaign to protect their country and culture from a proposed uranium mine at Yeelirrie in outback Western Australia.

The award, which celebrates outstanding voluntary contributions to protect the environment, will be conferred on the women at the Australian Conservation Foundation’s (ACF) annual general meeting in Melbourne tonight.

“Shirley, Elizabeth and Vicki, along with other Tjiwarl people, have spoken up for their country and culture around campfires, in politicians’ offices, on the streets of Perth and in Western Australia’s highest court, all the while looking after their grandchildren and each other,” said ACF’s Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy.

“Every year for the last eight years, these women have taken people from all over the world through their country on a one-month walking tour. In this way, hundreds have seen their land.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Opposition to nuclear, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Rio Tinto drives ERA rehabilitation of Ranger uranium mine

Rio Tinto drives ERA rehabilitation of Ranger

November 15, 2019,  Salomae Haselgrove  Energy Resources Australia (ERA) plans to raise $476 million to cover its rehabilitation obligations at the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory.

The company has announced an offer of new fully paid ordinary shares to raise the rehabilitation funds, with support from majority owner Rio Tinto.

As ERA’s largest shareholder, Rio Tinto is subscribing to its full entitlement of approximately $326 million.

ERA is not able to secure third-party underwriting support, therefore Rio Tinto is also acting as the underwriter to ensure ERA secures the funds it needs.Rio Tinto energy and minerals group executive Bold Baatar said it was committed to ensuring ERA’s position to fund the rehabilitation.

“We take mine closure very seriously and ensuring ERA is able to fund the closure and rehabilitation of the Ranger project area, through participating in this entitlement offer, is a priority,” Baatar said.

The shares will be offered to all eligible shareholders for $0.15 per share, representing a 38 per cent discount to the $0.24 per share 10-day volume weighted average price (VWAP).

After the increase in the rehabilitation provision in 2018, ERA found it did not have sufficient existing cash resources or expected future cash flows to fulfil the Ranger rehabilitation.

ERA believes it will have an achievable plan for the Ranger rehabilitation with the completion of this entitlement officer.

As per the obligation with the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments and the Traditional Owners, ERA will return the Ranger project area to an environment similar to the nearby Kakadu National Park.

Under its mining approval terms, ERA must end mining and processing at Ranger by January 2021 and finish final rehabilitation by January 2026.

ERA is not expected to generate any direct financial return from the Ranger rehabilitation expenditure.

November 16, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, environment, uranium | Leave a comment

There’s no market for new uranium mines or re-opening old ones – Cameco

Cameco: No market for new uranium mines, THE AUSTRALIAN,  NICK EVANS, RESOURCE WRITER, NOVEMBER 6, 2019    The world’s biggest uranium company says it cannot see any case for construction of new uranium mines, despite signs the sector is on the cusp of a long-awaited recovery.

Canada’s Cameco delivered the blunt assessment in its third-quarter financial results, released to the market late last week, saying there was still no case for reopening the mines it shut down in 2016 and 2017, stripping more than 20 million pounds of annual uranium oxide production from world supply.

Uranium prices remain in the doldrums, with spot prices averaging only $US25.68 a pound in the September quarter and long-term pricing sitting at an average $US31.50, , but chief exec­utive Tim Gitzel told analysts the company was now receiving more interest in new contracts from customers than at any time since the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

But, as Australia’s state governments face pressure to reverse laws banning uranium mining, and a federal parliamentary commission examines the economics of building a nuclear power plant in Australia, Mr Gitzel warned there would be no case for the construction of new uranium mines for some years to come.

Mr Gitzel said Cameco was seeing increased demand for the conversion of uranium oxide to enriched products, which he said was a precursor for a mining sector recovery. But he warned that nuclear utilities were still reluctant to commit to the long-term supply contracts needed to return mothballed mines back to production amid an excess of uranium oxide still in the market.

Cameco plans to fill more than 70 per cent of the 32 million pounds it needs to deliver to customers next year by buying on the spot market and produce only 9 million pounds from its mines.

“Today, the activity we’re seeing in the spot market is largely churn, the same material changing hands many times. There’s been a lack of fundamental demand (and) is more appropriately thought of as delayed purchasing decisions,” Mr Gitzel said.

“Utilities are delaying their purchasing decisions due to the uncertainty caused by changing market dynamics, including the ongoing market access and trade policy issues.”

Cameco has two Australian uranium projects in Western Australia — Kintyre and Yeelirrie — that have largely negotiated the necessary environmental permitting processes allowing constructions. But both are well out of the money, with Yeelirrie — bought from BHP for $US430m in 2012 — needing a long-term price of $US55-$60 a pound to be viable, and Kintyre, worth $US346m in 2008, closer to $US75 a pound.

While Mr Gitzel said he was concerned the lack of new mines could cause issues for the industry over the next decade if the number of nuclear power plants in the planning became a reality, he said there was no economic case for building new supply.

“Not only does it not make sense to invest in future primary supply, even the lowest-cost producers are deciding to preserve long-term value by leaving uranium in the ground,” Mr Gitzel said in Cameco’s financial report.

Signs of a recovery in the global market, partly spurred by the looming closure of ERA’s Ranger mine in the Northern Territory in 2021, have led to renewed activity from listed uranium plays.

Paladin Energy successfully raised $31.7m in October to fund feasibility studies on the restart of its Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia, and in the September quarter Deep Yellow raised $11.3m for its Namibian uranium exploration.

Cameco chief financial officer Grant Isaac said he did not believe new mines could win financial backing without a far stronger recovery in demand for uranium than was currently on the horizon, given the amount of idled supply sitting on the sidelines.

“It’s pretty hard to say you’re going to take the risk on an asset … that isn’t licensed, isn’t permitted, probably doesn’t have a proven mining method, when you have idle tier 1 capacity that’s licensed, permitted, sitting there,” he said.


November 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Radioactive liquids in Olympic Dam waste pools are killing native birds

Olympic Dam Alert: BHP propose a major new Evaporation Pond 6 for radioactive acid liquor wastes that will continue deaths of hundreds of birds each year

The federal government are inviting comments on BHP’s “Olympic Dam Evaporation Pond 6 EPBC Act Referral 2019/8526”  (scroll down to Date of Notice 21/10/2019).

Public submissions are only open until cob Monday 4th Nov 2019, see info on how to do so at end of this e-mail.

Please consider making a brief submission, key Recommendations are provided below, along with a Background Briefing Paper and a feature press article “BHP vs Birds”.

For info see “Migratory Birds at Risk of Mortality if BHP Continues Use of Evaporation Ponds” a 3 page Briefing written by David Noonan for the ACF, Friends of the Earth and Conservation SA (30 June 2019), at

see “BIRDS VS BHP: Evaporation ponds at BHP’s Olympic Dam mine are killing hundreds of birds” article in The Advertiser 10 July 2019

October 26, 2019 Posted by | environment, South Australia, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Found – historic film of Aboriginal resistance to uranium mining

Kakadu uranium protest documentary Dirt Cheap unearthed by Northern Territory Library, ABC News By Matt Garrick 18 Sept 19  The rediscovery of an old VHS tape, left forgotten on the shelves of the Northern Territory Library, has unearthed a tense and important piece of Australian history.

Key points:

  • The 1980 documentary Dirt Cheap showcased the Mirarr people’s fight against uranium mining
  • The Northern Territory Library recently hunted down the only digital copy of the documentary so it could be shown at a film festival
  • Filmmaker Ned Lander says the movie created a stir at the time of its release

The rare copy of the nearly 40-year-old documentary Dirt Cheap, which details the early pushback against uranium mining in Kakadu National Park, was practically unwatchable due to its age……..

The film documented the concerns of the Mirarr people during what was a tense period of negotiation in the lead-up to the 1979 Ranger Uranium Mining Agreement.

It also showcased the pressures and broken promises the traditional owners faced. “It was very, very apparent to us that people were not ready to sign the agreement in relation to mining, and this was being done under pressure.

Mirarr resistance inspires protests around nation

Against the push of government and business interests, the Mirarr stood resolute in their bid to protect their land.

“As a child growing up I saw the struggle of my family, including my grandfather — they [had] been struggling,” traditional owner Jimmy Nabanardi-Mudjandi said.

I’m really proud of them, but it’s sad because they’re not here to see what the new future of Jabiru’s gonna be.”

The resistance from the Mirarr had a flow-on effect around the nation.

Banner-waving protesters took to the streets in Melbourne and Sydney in great numbers, scenes which Dirt Cheap captures in vivid detail.

“Mirarr people got major support from around Australia, from around the whole nation,” Mr Nabanardi-Mudjandi said.

Next stage of uranium mining looms

In the decades since the film’s release, uranium has been mined at Kakadu, but the Ranger mine is now expected to wind up in 2021.

Mr Nabanardi-Mudjandi said it was vital the land was protected during its rehabilitation.

“We are watching them, what they’re doing,” he said.

Mr Nabanardi-Mudjandi will be a special guest when Dirt Cheap screens as part of the Darwin International Film Festival at the Northern Territory Library at 5:30pm on Wednesday.  Contact Matt Garrick

September 19, 2019 Posted by | Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, opposition to nuclear, uranium | Leave a comment

‘Up to $12,000 owing to Adnyamathanha girl’: Grandmother

‘Up to $12,000 owing to Adnyamathanha girl’: Grandmother, Transcontinental, Greg Mayfield 4 Sep 19

September 6, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Mirrarr people to lead the Kakadu region’s transition from uranium mining

Kirsten Blair, Community and International Liaison, 15 Aug 19,   Gundjeihmi Aboriginal CorporationToday GAC chairwoman, Toby’s Gangale’s daughter: Valerie Balmoore signed an MOU with the Federal and NT Governments as well as mining company ERA committing all parties to a Mirarr-led post-mining future for Jabiru.

There is still much work to be done on Mirarr country including cleaning up the immense Ranger uranium mine. GAC and others will continue our diligent work in this area – and there are no guarantees the cleanup will be wholly successful – but restoration of country remains the absolute objective.

Mirarr continue to assert their rights as Traditional Owners and lead the way for people and country, this Jabiru story is evidence of a massive shift. The power in these images speaks for itself. Today is deeply hopeful for the Kakadu region and offers an incredible message for all communities resisting unwanted mining projects.

August 15, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment