Australian news, and some related international items

Amid climate change threat to the Murray Darling river system, the States haggle

April 18, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment, water | Leave a comment

Drinking water threatened by forest fires

As forests burn around the world, drinking water is at risk

By TAMMY WEBBER Associated Press | Friday, January 31, 2020 Fabric curtains stretch across the huge Warragamba Dam to trap ash and sediment expected to wash off wildfire-scorched slopes and into the reservoir that holds 80% of untreated drinking water for the Greater Sydney area.

In Australia’s national capital of Canberra, where a state of emergency was declared on Friday because of an out-of-control forest fire to its south, authorities are hoping a new water treatment plant and other measures will prevent a repeat of water quality problems and disruption that followed deadly wildfires 17 years ago.

February 3, 2020 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming, water | Leave a comment

A foreign corporation gets 89 BILLION litres of Australia’s water, as drought worsens

December 12, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, environment, water | Leave a comment

Unacceptable levels of uranium in drinking water for several remote communities

‘Our kids need proper water’: Families plead for action over uranium in drinking water, ABC, 7.30  by Indigenous affairs reporters Isabella HigginsBridget Brennan and Emily Napangarti Butcher, 19 June 18, 

June 19, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, uranium, water | Leave a comment

Uranium mine- Australia’s largest water guzzler – it’s criminal in a dry climate

text-relevantOlympic Dam Mine: Largest User of Energy in S. Australia; Largest User of Australia’s Precious Water Resource – The Great Artesian Basin 31 Friday Jul 2015 by miningawareness  The largest single user of electricity in South Australia is the Olympic Dam uranium, copper, gold, silver mine. Almost 60% of the energy in South Australia comes from renewables! Why would they need nuclear? Why a “Royal Commission”? They clearly want nuclear power so that they can sell their uranium to make energy to mine more uranium. Furthermore, the wise shun uranium, so to keep mining it in Australia, they need to dump it on Australia in the form of depleted uranium from enrichment, nuclear power, and the too often forgotten nuclear waste, to go with the radioactive tailings which they already have.


The largest user of underground water in the Southern Hemisphere is the Olympic Dam! Australia has a generally dry climate, and is highly dependent upon the same groundwater, underground aquifer, which is pumped for mining and most assuredly polluted by mining. Wikipedia says the Olympic Dam mine is the largest industrial user of underground water in the Southern Hemisphere. But, no single individual would use so much, so it much be the largest single user. Thus, it is also the largest single user of Australia’s precious Great Artesian Basin water.

Nuclear anything is even more dangerous in a dry climate, so prone to bushfires, and even fire tornados! Using up the precious water resource of the Great Artesian Basin by uranium, or any other mining, is criminal….

August 1, 2015 Posted by | South Australia, water | 2 Comments

South Australia’s contaminated groundwater – thousands of sites

polluted-waterToxic sites in Adelaide’s suburbs number in their thousands BRAD CROUCH THE ADVERTISER JULY 22, 2014  THE Opposition has demanded a statewide audit of contaminated sites, as it emerges the dangers of trichloroethene entering groundwater was suspected as far back as the 1940s.

The call for an audit comes after Environmental Protection Authority chief executive Tony Circelli confirmed that “thousands” of sites were contaminated with various chemicals and the EPA received about 100 new notifications each year.

The State Government and Environment Minister Ian Hunter are under increasing pressure over the contamination scandal in Clovelly Park , where dozens of people have been forced to leave their homes because of health risks from the vapours of trichloroethene (TCE) rising up through the soil from industrially poisoned groundwater.

Mr Circelli, was responding to a claim by UniSA Professor Ravi Naidu, the managing director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation, that there are about 4000 contaminated sites in SA.

Mr Circelli said that claim was incorrect, but conceded the number “is in the thousands”.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said an audit was needed to clarify the exact number of contaminated sites and their locations. “The purpose of conducting a statewide audit would be to establish a hierarchy of sites based on potential public health risks,” he said.

“As well as playing an important community awareness role, the audit could also provide a benchmark for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of contaminated sites for the EPA and assist with any future contamination investigations………

July 23, 2014 Posted by | environment, South Australia, water | Leave a comment

Water shortage problem for Australia’s uranium miners in Africa

Rio Tinto, Paladin Uranium Mines in Namibia Face Water Shortage, Bloomberg News By Felix Njini November 18, 2013 Uranium mines operated by companies including Rio Tinto Plc (RIO) and Paladin Energy Ltd. in Namibia face a water shortage as a drought in the southwest African nation curbs supply to the operations and three coastal towns. Continue reading

November 19, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, water | Leave a comment

Queensland government guts laws protecting water from coal seam gas operations

water-dropshighly-recommended      Australia: Wide-ranging changes to Queensland’s land and water legislation passed, Clayton UTZ 11 May 2013 A petroleum tenure holder in Queensland will now be able to use associated water “for any purpose”.

The Land, Water and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (Qld) was passed by Parliament on 2 May 2013 and introduces a large number of legislative amendments across a wide range of Acts impacting, primarily, the land and water regulatory portfolios, but also making important amendments that impact upon the petroleum industry, particularly in relation to water bores and the use and transportation of CSG water.

Some of the key amendments in this Act for petroleum industry proponents are outlined below.

Removal of restriction on use of CSG water Continue reading

May 13, 2013 Posted by | Queensland, water | Leave a comment

Resources scientist questions management of tailings and water for Wiluna uranium project

water-drops Dr Mudd also highlighted the use and contamination of ground water
sources in the area as a key issue, saying there have been issues at
other uranium mines across Australia and it remains unclear where
water for this site will come from or what techniques will be used to
source it

Monash mining expert examines Wiluna uranium proposal
Science Network, 23 December 2012 AN AUSTRALIAN expert on mining
sustainability has highlighted some of the key environmental aspects
for West Australia, as the state moves closer to its first uranium

Resources company Toro Energy recently received state government
environmental approval to develop WA’s first uranium mine near Wiluna,
with the company now seeking federal environmental approval.

Monash University mining expert Gavin Mudd says the primary issues
concern the management of tailings and waste rock, as well as water
use, contamination and other aspects local to the mine site. Continue reading

December 23, 2012 Posted by | environment, uranium, water, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Protesting BHP’s Olympic Dam – its special privileges, water guzzling, uranium to Fukushima

Mythical lizard haunts Australian uranium extractors Infoshop News, July 22 2012  Anti-nuclear protesters camping at what they describe as “the gates of hell” — that is, on the edge of BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine in the desert of South Australia — decided to play a game of cricket on Tuesday, July 17, in order to publicize their message: Uranium isn’t Australian.

“It’s just not cricket,” they chanted, “and that’s why we picket.”

by Peter Rugh  Waging Nonviolence   “…….There’s no room for nature’s business in the uranium business. That’s why BHP is digging into the belly of Kalta, the sleeping lizard who, according to aboriginal legend, lives under the rocks at Olympic Dam. BHP is sucking yellow uranium poison out of Kalta’s belly and feeding it to nuclear reactors around the world.

It already takes about 9 million gallons of water a day to wash all that poison down the throats of global markets — water sucked out at no cost to BHP from the region’s only reliable freshwater source, the Great Artesian Basin. But the Melbourne-based multinational plans to expand its mining operations at Olympic from an area of about 1,700 square miles to a terrain roughly eight times that size. The $30 billion expansion would make Olympic Dam at Roxby Downs the world’s largest open-pit mine.

An additional 53 gallons of water a day will be used up should mining at Olympic expand. The amount of diesel required to extract and transport BHP’s uranium would cause South Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions to skyrocket by 12 percent.

Olympic currently operates under the Roxby Downs Indenture Act of 1982, which granted BHP exemptions from laws covering native sovereignty, public disclosure, environmental impact and water preservation. The Indenture Act was amended in 2011 , when BHP began scouting out more land. Critics say the law is essentially a contract between BHP and the South Australian government for the corporation to do what it likes.

Meanwhile, the effects of BHP’s mining are felt far beyond the Outback. Approximately 4,400 tons of Australian uranium per year are used to feed aging reactors in the United States, which jeopardize the civilian population centers that they surround . A major portion of the stuff comes from BHP. The company is to Australia’s uranium industry what Nirvana was to grunge; they’ve cornered the market…..

Prior to the Fukushima disaster , Japan — after the United States and the European Union — was Australia’s third best uranium customer, importing nearly 2,700 tons a year. The uranium fuel pellets that melted down three reactor cores at Fukushima on March 11 of last year were from Olympic Dam.

Dr. Jim Green, an anti-nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia, accuses BHP of turning a blind eye to fraud and safety problems in Japan’s nuclear industry in the run-up to the meltdowns. Despite widespread documentation of data falsification and safety breaches, he says  BHP continued to peddle its toxic product to the quake-prone nation in the run up to the Fukushima meltdowns….


July 23, 2012 Posted by | South Australia, uranium, water | 3 Comments

It looks as if the Northern Territory govt will allow uranium mining in water catchment area!

Exploration in dam catchment NIGEL ADLAM   |  April 18th, 2012 TEN mining exploration licences have been granted in the water catchment for a possible new dam. Resources Minister Kon Vatskalis denied any of the licences had been issued specifically for uranium. “Rather the authorisation allows the holder to undertake exploration within a specific area,” he said.

The licences are in the catchment for Warrai Dam, 8km upstream from Adelaide River township, 100km south of Darwin.
Power and Water Corporation boss Andrew Macrides said the $500 million dam may not have to be built for at least 20 years – and possibly not at all.

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Northern Territory, uranium, water | | Leave a comment

Australia’s Northern Territory allows free groundwater to mining companies, not to any other users!

Mataranka residents surprised by mining’s right to ground water, ABC Rural News, By Steven Schubert, 02/12/2011 Members of a committee formed to develop a water plan for the Northern Territory town of Mataranka say they were never told mining operations could gain unrestricted access to ground water.

Mining operations don’t require a licence from the water controller under the NT Water Act, while other users have to apply for an allocation of ground water. Committee member Hamish McFarlane says if a mining project is formed near the town, there could be less water for irrigators and other users.

“Keeping in mind that you said before that the Water Act gives priority to mining, if a mining company came in here at this point in time and took the consumptive pool there would be no growth in Mataranka outside the mining industry.”…

December 3, 2011 Posted by | Northern Territory, water | | Leave a comment

Obscenity of BHP Billiton’s Control of Huge Water Resources in Olympic Damn Uranium Mine Deal

VIDEO Mine expansion draws more water from basin ABC News, Paul Klaric, October 14, 2011 Scientists are concerned that the the proposed Olympic Dam mine expansion will put a strain on Australia’s greatest underground water supply.


. On 13 May 2011 the company announced a proposal for six-fold expansion of Olympic Dam Mine in South Australia – to extract the most valuable single mineral deposit in the world. The mine will consume up to 42 million litres of water a day from the Great Artesian Basin for plus 40 years.

On 10 October 2011 the South Australian (SA) Government granted approval for the BHP Billiton (BHP) Olympic Dam expansion.  The  Indenture Bill, signed on 12 October by representatives of BHP and the State Government, will now be submitted to vote in the SA Parliament. The SA government will not terminate or suspend the current licence which entitles BHP to take 42 million litres of water each day for Olympic Dam from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) – but BHP will in the future pay for GAB water. This failure of the SA Government to protect the best interests of the GAB represents an enormously significant strategic win for BHP.

With the value of the Olympic Dam resource now standing at $1.4 trillion (an increase by a factor of 155 over the $9 billion acquisition price in 2005) free GAB water for the past 6 years has been an irrelevant bonus. But whilst future payments for GAB water will be marked with a miniscule book entry in the accounts of this massive mining operation, the concept of paying for GAB water will certainly be of concern to every single pastoralist, country town, and family that actually NEEDS GAB water.
But it is the strategic significance of the position in which these SA Government decisions have placed BHP that may have some of the most wide-ranging and long-term consequences in this potentially mineral-rich desert region of SA.  The enormous amount of surplus water that BHP will own or control will be sufficient to support two mining operations of the size and scale of the current Olympic Dam mine.  As railway lines were once of such commercial significance to BHP in the competitive iron-ore regions of NW Australia, in these parts of SA it has long been the fact that whoever controls the water controls the commerce.  Perhaps this is not the first time in the history of flawed government decision-making that the seeds of an anti-competitive beast have  been planted.
The true obscenity of what occurred in South Australia these last few days is that, by any measure, the best interests of the GAB have once again been trampled by a State government in the rush to accommodate the wishes of a miner.

October 15, 2011 Posted by | politics, reference, South Australia, uranium, water | , | Leave a comment

One small concession to Australia’s environment – BHP to pay a bit for future water grab

(once again – so much news about BHP Billiton and Olympic Dam uranium mine – more items at )

BHP forced to pay for Great Artesian Basin water,  ABC Rural By Annabelle Homer , 13/10/2011 The South Australian Government and BHP Billiton have signed an Indenture Agreement to enable the Olympic Dam mine expansion to go ahead. The Indenture Bill will be introduced to State Parliament next week to enable this agreement to be backed by the full force of South Australian law.

As part of the agreement, the company will now be charged for the water it extracts from the Great Artesian Basin and $350 million a year in royalties will be generated once the project is at full capacity…..  BHP has accepted reluctantly they will now come under Environment Protection Agency, they are paying for the first time ever for the Great Artesian Basin water.”

BHP will be charged on the current NRM Board levy rate (currently $0.0318/KL) for the region (capped at $0.10/KL), for a period of 30 years from the commencement of the project.The charge will then revert to the current NRM Levy rate.

BHP will not be required to pay for water being taken on the Special Mineral Lease.

Independent environmental consultant David Noonan says the BHP is not paying enough. “He says the company will be paying $1.3 million to $1.5 million a year for essentially a precious water resource.”

The Bill also includes a 12-month sunset clause, which means the company has one year from when Parliament passes the Bill to get the approval from its Board of Directors to formally begin the expansion.

October 14, 2011 Posted by | South Australia, uranium, water | , | Leave a comment

How Australian governments gave BHP special treatment, and free groundwater

Public resources for private profit: free water for the largest open-pit mine in the world Coober Pedy Regional Times, by: Nectaria Calan, 13 Oct 11 In August mining giant BHP Billiton announced record financial results for the 2011 financial year, recording a total net profit of US$23.95 billion, nearly double its 2010 figure of US$13.01 billion.
Despite its profits more than tripling in the last three years, BHP has never paid a cent for the water used at its Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine. The mine currently takes an average of 37 million litres of water a day from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB). Under the Roxby Downs Indenture Act BHP is not required to pay for this water usage.
The Indenture Act applies specifically to the Olympic Dam mine, and provides for wide-ranging legal exemptions from  s eve r a l  South Aus t r a l i an  l aws ,   including  the Aboriginal Heritage Act, the Environmental Protection Act, and the Natural Resources Management Act (which incorporates water management).
It is essentially a contract between BHP and the state government, which overrides key legislation in South Australia with the terms set out in the indenture agreement. The Special Water Licence for the mine is granted under the Indenture Act. It does not allocate a fee for the water used at the mine, essentially providing BHP with a massive subsidy. The new open-pit mine at Olympic Dam will require an additional 200 million litres of water per day, with water intake from the Basin proposed to in crease to the current licence limit of 42 million litres per day. *During the construction phase, it is projected that 44 million litres per day will be required, pending further government approvals.
This sits uneasily alongside the recently announc ed  thi rd  s t age  of   the  Gr e a t  Ar t e s i an Ba s in Sustainability Initiative (GABSI), for which the State and Commonwealth Governments have committed $2 million, to preserve an additional 3.8 million litres a day.
The water intake from the GAB is already affecting the unique Mound Springs found in the Lake Eyre region. Fed by the underlying Artesian Basin, they are integral to the desert ecosystem and sacred to the Arabunna people.
Arabunna elder Kevin Buzzacott observes that, “since the establishment of the mine by Western Mining Corporation, people like myself, born and bred in the area, have noticed  the water level of the springs dropping. One is just about gone.”
The Great Artesian Basin Wellfields Report, published yearly by BHP in accordance with the Indenture Act, shows reduced flow rates for several springs, particularly those monitored from the mid-1980’s, when the mine was established….   Coober Pedy Regional Times 13-10-2011 (PDF)

October 14, 2011 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium, water | , | 1 Comment