Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

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

Olympic Dam uranium mine’s unlimited water access is killing the Arabana people’s mound springs

South Australia’s disappearing springs raise questions for miner BHP–  https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/south-australia-s-disappearing-springs-raise-questions-for-miner-bhp-20201117-p56f6m.html

Few in big cities know about the ‘mound springs’, but they are of deep cultural significance for the Arabana people who hold native title over Lake Eyre and its surrounds.By Richard Baker November 23, 2020

Dotted around the vast arid harshness of outback South Australia are thousands of small springs fed by ancient waters from the Great Artesian Basin.

Few in big cities know about the “mound springs”, but they are of deep cultural significance for the Arabana people who hold native title over Lake Eyre and its surrounds. They are also a precious source of life for humans, animals and plants in a hostile environment.

A mound spring near the shore of Lake Eyre in South Australia.

But the Arabana people fear the extraction of tens of millions of litres of water from the basin each day by mining, petroleum and pastoral industries threatens the existence of the springs by reducing flow pressure in the aquifer to the extent that the springs dry up.

The federal parliamentary inquiry into Rio Tinto’s destruction in May of 46,000-year-old rock shelters at the Juukan Gorge in Western Australia has given the Arabana people the chance to put the fate of the springs on the national agenda.

“In our country there are over 6000 of these springs and they are of great significance to the Arabana people,” said the chair of the Arabana registered native title body, Brenda Underwood, in a submission to the inquiry.

“The springs themselves can be as small as a cup or large enough that you could swim in them, however, we don’t because of the stories associated with them. To us, and to many Australians, they are a beautiful sight in a harsh environment.

“Unfortunately, our springs are disappearing. How many have disappeared, we are not yet sure, but we are undertaking some research to find out just how many have actually disappeared.”

Rio Tinto’s blasting at Juukan Gorge drew widespread public criticism, prompted the resignation of its chief executive and put a spotlight on state and federal laws that are meant to balance the protection of Indigenous heritage against the commercial interests of miners.

In the case of the springs, another mining giant, BHP, is playing a central role. BHP is licensed by the South Australian government to extract the equivalent of up to 42 million litres of water per day from the Great Artesian Basin to operate the massive Olympic Dam copper, gold and uranium mine near Roxby Downs.

Millions of litres of water are also taken from the basin each day by pastoral stations and various petroleum companies, and more is lost through evaporation from thousands of disused bores that have not been properly capped.

RMIT environmental engineering expert Gavid Mudd has studied the mound springs closely for more than 20 years and said there was no doubt the extraction of so much groundwater had contributed to a reduction in flow pressure. Some had dried up entirely.

Although the Arabana submission to the inquiry acknowledges water users such as pastoralists and petroleum companies, it largely focuses on BHP’s water use and the unique South Australian laws that grant it a virtually unchallenged right to groundwater.

Under the 1982 Roxby Downs Indenture Act, the original Olympic Dam owner Western Mining and present owner BHP are afforded special privileges that trump Aboriginal heritage laws and almost all other state laws and regulations.

“Each day they [BHP] take 35 million litres of water from our springs and the Great Artesian Basin and now they wish to increase that amount to 42 million litres per day,” Ms Underwood’s statement said

“We are told that this will continue for at least the next 60 years. Given the number of springs that have disappeared, in 60 years we have a great fear that there will be none left whatsoever. The Arabana people have tasked me and the board of directors of the corporation to protect the springs. The big question is how?”

Ms Underwood and the 1000-strong Arabana community fear the South Australian government will be reluctant to change the status quo for BHP.

The mining company’s recent announcement to pause a planned $3 billion expansion of Olympic Dam is likely to see its water take remain about the mid 30 million litres per day mark.

The Arabana people have asked their Adelaide lawyer, Stephen Kenny, to advise them if the Commonwealth can get involved. Mr Kenny has said the Commonwealth could act to protect the springs, but previous cases such as that involving South Australia’s Hindmarsh Island suggested it would not.

 

 

 

November 23, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Can a new mine save BHP’s loss-making Olympic Dam? 

Can a new mine save BHP’s loss-making Olympic Dam?  Peter Ker,Resources reporter
Nov 18, 2020 – There’s a school of thought at BHP that the best way to fix its loss-making Olympic Dam mine is with a bulldozer.

By demolishing the old smelter, refinery, acid plant and other surface infrastructure that so often cause the inconsistency at the mine, advocates say BHP could start again by spending a few billion dollars on world-class infrastructure to allow it to capitalise on Olympic Dam’s extraordinarily large copper, gold, silver and uranium resource….(Subscribers only)…. https://www.afr.com/companies/mining/can-a-new-mine-save-bhp-s-loss-making-olympic-dam-20201026-p568sn

November 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

Australia should stop selling uranium to nuclear weapon states and not sell uranium into unstable regions.

David Noonan  Fight to stop a nuclear waste dump in South Australia, 27 Oct 20, 

 

Nuclear Weapons Treaty Ban to come into Force on 22 Jan 2021
Australia should stop selling uranium to nuclear weapon states and not sell uranium into unstable regions.
BHP Olympic Dam will soon bear near sole responsibility for Aust’s uranium sales supply chain issues.
Aust has signed uranium sales deals into India – in a regional nuclear stand off with Pakistan; to Ukraine – in cross border conflict with Russia & separatists & cyber hackers; and to the UAE – into the unstable Middle East.
Dept Foreign Affairs and Trade says this is good business.
Nuclear reactors are targets.
Attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia shows US military gear can not stop attacks on energy facilities in the region.
Aust and BHP Olympic Dam can stop selling uranium.

October 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

BHP’s rejection of uranium is a sign of the future

Wire 21st Oct 2020, The news this week that mining giant BHP will not continue with its long planned multi-billion dollar expansion of its Olympic Dam uranium and copper project is a sign that the market is turning against the controversial mineral.

It spells good news for the future of renewables but leaves the problem of leftover radioactive waste at Olympic Dam. There is no decision to change tack and mine the many many rare earths which also exist at the site.

http://thewire.org.au/story/bhps-rejection-of-uranium-a-sign-of-the-future/

October 24, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium | Leave a comment

OLympic Dam uranium mine – NOT the great white hope for South Australia

The Olympic Dam silver bullet is forever tarnished

 “From the BHP side BFX is dead and buried… I suggest a new name: “OD-PERHAPS” for short.”

It’s time to stop looking to one mine in the state’s Far North for the answer to our economic problems

BHP, and our politicians, should be wary of rolling out the “expansion” tag to a state weary of spin around Olympic Dam, writes Business Editor Cameron England.

Cameron England, Business Editor, The Advertiser, October 20, 2020 ,

South Australians can take today’s announcement from BHP that its expansion plans have been shelved again as a signal that it’s time to step off the Olympic Dam silver bullet train once and for all…………

hanging our hopes on a big bang – or even a small bang – expansion of the project as a pivotal turning point for the state’s economy is a fool’s game.

The initial $30 billion open pit expansion – which was shelved in 2012 – would genuinely have been a game-changer for the state.

It included plans for an open pit bigger than the Adelaide CBD, new ports, and a surge in annual royalties for the State Government. But it was not to be.

The BFX expansion – which was shelved today – was a more modest $3.7 billion proposal, and while the spending would have been a boon to the state, it alone would have not moved the dial in a significant way for the state’s economy.

A broadbased approach, based around SA being a great place to do business – which the government is actually pursuing – stands a better chance of being the tide which lifts all boats.

Unfortunately the idea of an Olympic Dam expansion seems to be enough to make state ministers lose their equilibrium.

Back in 2011, former Infrastructure Minster Pat Conlon, with the caveat that it wasn’t his decision to make, declared the project a “goer” and said “I can tell you, having been regularly updated by my colleague Kevin Foley, Olympic Dam is a goer, it will get a sign-off.

“I’m very, very confident we’ll start up soon.’’

It didn’t of course.

And now current Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan says, similar to the results from Pantene, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen…..

From the BHP side BFX is dead and buried, although they are committed to an incremental $500 million smelter maintenance plan and do want to gradually increase production.

But what most people would understand is an “expansion plan” is off the cards for now.

BHP needs to learn to manage expectations around this project, in a state which does have a tendency to hope for silver bullet solutions.

They’re between a rock and a hard place with their obligation to keep investors up to date, and not get people too excited with projects that invariably have billion dollar price tags attached.

I suggest a new name: the Olympic Dam Project Evaluation, Risk, Holistic Analysis and Potential Scheme – or “OD-PERHAPS” for short.

 

October 22, 2020 Posted by | South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium: the mineral that never made sense now doesn’t even make dollars

Uranium: the mineral that never made sense now doesn’t even make dollars, 20 Oct 20,  News that BHP, the world’s biggest mining company, will not continue with the long planned multi-billion dollar expansion of its Olympic Dam uranium and copper project shows the clock is ticking on uranium, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

The planned expansion of the mine in northern South Australia enjoyed strong state and federal government support and was on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent list of major projects to be fast-tracked.

“This move is further evidence of the deep market malaise surrounding uranium operations,” said Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“Today’s announcement shows that political access, spin and favours cannot change the realities of an ore body or the global commodity market.

“BHP has made a basic, hard-headed business decision not to proceed with this project.

“The global uranium price has been hammered since the Fukushima nuclear disaster and it is unlikely to improve. The sector has scant social license and is increasingly embattled.

“Today’s decision by BHP, coupled with Rio Tinto’s exit from operations at the Ranger mine in Kakadu, shows the clock is ticking on uranium, the asbestos of the 21st Century.

“South Australia’s energy, employment and economic options should not be tied to a continued dependence on high impact, low certainty resource projects.

“South Australia is well placed to lead the nation in renewable energy tools, technology and thinking.

“This decision may be the pivot needed to shift to a secure, sustainable contemporary economy.”

For context or comment contact Dave Sweeney on 0408 317 812

October 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, uranium | Leave a comment

BHP dumps its plan to expand Olympic Dam uranium mine

BHP shelves $3.7bn expansion plan for Olympic Dam mine in SA for a second time
BHP has shelved a plan to spend $3.7 billion expanding the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine – just months after the colossal project was put on a Federal Government fast-track.    Cameron England, Business Editor, The Advertiser, 19 Oct 20, 

BHP’s $3.7 billion expansion plans for the Olympic Dam mine have been abandoned.

The company had been looking at a Brownfields Expansion Project (BFX) which would have increased production from the current capacity of 200,000 tonnes of copper per year to as much as 300,000.

The project was one of a number of big ticket items earmarked for streamlined approval processes by the Federal Government in June in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has major project status from the State Government……….

It is the second time BHP has scrapped plans for Olympic Dam. In August 2012, the company announced it had shelved its $30 billion expansion and would go back to the drawing board to find a cheaper alternative. Market conditions, subdued commodity prices and higher capital costs led to the decision eight years ago………

 in its quarterly review released this morning, BHP said following more than 400km of underground drilling, which improved the knowledge of the ore body, it had decided to focus on incremental improvements, rather than a step change investment at the site.

“Following more than 400 km of underground drilling associated with the Brownfield Expansion (BFX) project studies, we have improved knowledge of the ore body’s variability,’’ the company said.

“This has provided challenges for the economics of the BFX project, and we have decided the optimal way forward for now is through targeted debottlenecking investments, plant upgrades and modernisation of our infrastructure.’………

BHP said Olympic Dam was performing well, and had posted its best quarterly performance in the past five years in the three months to the end of September.

“Over the next two years, our focus will remain on completing our asset integrity program to underpin more stable operations and copper production of more than 200 ktpa. We have a significant investment program in place to achieve that,’’ Mr Basto said.

“We will continue to study longer-term options for growth. Our enhanced understanding of the underground resources in the Southern Mine Area, promising results from Oak Dam and stronger foundations will help us unlock the full potential of Olympic Dam……..

In August, BHP announced Olympic Dam had made a full year loss before interest and tax of $US79 million, on revenues of $US1.463 billion. That was up from a loss the previous financial year of $US58 million on revenues of $1.351 billion.

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/business/bhp-has-shelved-a-37bn-expansion-plan-for-the-olympic-dam-mine/news-story/a472a34c1401f05899efb7994357090a?btr=250c6c18b8bd41aeb7995451f3206427

October 20, 2020 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Clean-up for Ranger uranium mine. Rum Jungle mine still a polluted mess

 

October 10, 2020 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association gets $millions from uranium mining: need for Royal Commission into Native Title

October 10, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

BHP betrays international safety efforts

September 19, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, uranium | Leave a comment

Mirrar people at last have control of Jabiru, as Ranger uranium mining set to end operations

   Traditional owners regain control of Jabiru as historic land rights law passes Senate Natasha Emeck, NT News, 3 Sept 20 HISTORIC land rights legislation that will allow the traditional owners of Jabiru to regain control of their township has passed through the Senate.

Amendments to Aboriginal land rights laws passed through the upper house of federal parliament pm Thursday, returning the ownership of Jabiru to the Mirarr people and allowing for a long-term township lease.

The mining town was built in 1982 to service the Ranger uranium mine, which will cease operation in January 2021, heralding a new era for the town and surrounding Kakadu National Park.

Senator Malarndirri McCarthy said today’s historic moment had been a “long time coming” for the Mirarr people, who had been campaigning for this for 20 years.

Senior Mirarr traditional owner and Kakadu resident Yvonne Margarula, pictured in Kakadu National Park.

Mirarr senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula said her people were glad to see the legal changes finally happen.

They are essential to ensuring the vibrant post-mining future of Jabiru and the Kakadu region that Mirarr have been planning for,” she said.

We look forward to welcoming visitors from all around the world to our beautiful country.”

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, who represents the Mirarr traditional owners, have crafted a masterplan to turn Jabiru into an Indigenous-led tourism and services town.

This bipartisan change to the legislation is an essential step to correct the historical exclusion of the town of Jabiru from Aboriginal ownership and allow Mirarr to take the legal control they need to enact their vision,” chief executive Justin O’Brien said.

 

September 3, 2020 Posted by | aboriginal issues, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium ban brought benefit to New South Wales

Uranium ban brought us benefit, Newcastle Herald, Dave Sweeney, Australian Conservation Foundation 23 Aug 20, 

THE state government’s proposed removal of a long-standing and popular ban on uranium mining in New South Wales flies in the face of evidence, community interest and market reality. The global uranium price remains depressed following the Fukushima nuclear disaster and is not likely to recover. The uranium market is over supplied and existing producers are shelving projects across Australia and around the world.

In November 2019 the CEO of the world’s largest uranium miner, Canadian company Cameco, stated that “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.”

The ban has served NSW well. It has provided policy certainty and avoided the radioactive waste and legacy mine issues affecting other places, including Kakadu, where a massive $1 billion clean-up is underway at the former Ranger mine. This poorly conceived piece of gesture politics could lead to lower tier and inexperienced mining companies cutting corners and increasing environmental and community risk and it simply makes no sense for NSW to jump aboard a sinking nuclear ship. NSW’s energy future is renewable, not radioactive.

August 24, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Pointless: Removal of New South Wales Uranium mining ban, as uranium glut continues, and nuclear industry declines

Nuke South Wales?, ACF, Dave Sweeney, 20 Aug 20, 

The proposed removal of a long-standing and popular ban on uranium mining in New South Wales is empty gesture politics that flies in the face of community interest and market reality, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) said.

The global uranium price remains depressed following the Fukushima nuclear disaster and is not likely to recover.

“The nuclear power age is winding up, so it makes no sense for NSW to jump aboard a sinking ship,” said ACF nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“The ban is popular and has served NSW well, providing policy certainty and avoiding the radioactive waste and legacy mine issues affecting other places, including Kakadu, where a massive $1 billion clean-up is underway at the former Ranger mine.

“This is empty gesture politics that could lead to lower tier and inexperienced mining companies cutting corners and increasing environmental and community risk.

“This poorly conceived plan puts political posturing above community benefit and could lead to increased pollution and risk for NSW communities and environment for scant gain.

“NSW’s energy future is renewable, not radioactive – this tired political fix is no substitute for a credible and effective energy policy.

“Deputy Premier Barilaro might see this as in the Nationals’ interest, but it is certainly not in the national interest.”

In November 2019 the CEO of the world’s largest uranium miner, Canadian company Cameco, stated, “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.”

The global market is over supplied as existing producers exit or defer projects and higher-grade uranium ore deposits remain in the ground across Australia and around the world.

For context or comment contact Dave Sweeney on 0408 317 812

August 20, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium mining to become legal in NSW, as govt supports OneNation in nuclear push.

Uranium Mining. NSW govt to support One Nation in Nuclear Push.   Daily Telegraph, 19 Aug 20, 

Uranium mining looks set to become legal in NSW after a deal was struck between Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Deputy Premier John Barilaro to get it through cabinet. … (subscribers only)   NSW to start mining uranium after agreement on plan to lift ban [$] 

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August 20, 2020 Posted by | New South Wales, politics, uranium | Leave a comment