Australian news, and some related international items

Honeymoon uranium miner 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 | Leave a comment

Former Prime Minister Turnbull scathing about #MorrisonFromMarketing, on the climate issue

‘War on science’: Malcolm Turnbull says Scott Morrison has misled the nation on bushfire crisis, New Daily ,Samantha Maiden, 22 Jan 2020 Malcolm Turnbull has unleashed on Scott Morrison in a brutal new interview in which the former Liberal leader also likened his climate change denying colleagues to “terrorists”.  the PM of downplaying the bushfire crisis……..

“I can’t explain why he didn’t meet the former fire commissioners who wanted to see him in March last year to talk about the gravity of the threat.
“Everybody knew we were in a very dry time and as a consequence the fire season was likely to be very bad. So rather than doing what a leader should do and preparing people for that, he downplayed it and then of course chose to go away on holiday in Hawaii at the peak of the crisis…..

Last year, The New Daily revealed the Prime Minister had embarked on a secret trip to Hawaii while fires were devastating Australian communities.

Mr Turnbull said Mr Morrison downplayed, and at times discounted, the influence of climate change……
“If a country like Australia is not prepared to grapple with these issues seriously – itself being on the front line of the consequences and being an advanced, prosperous, technologically sophisticated country with the means to do so – why would other countries take the issue as seriously as they should?” …..

The former prime minister, who has a new book out this year, also slammed the US President Donald Trump for playing a “very destructive” role in the climate debate.

“Trump makes no bones about it. He says global warming is rubbish,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Trump is trying to put a brake on global action to reduce emissions. The lack of American leadership is extremely damaging.

Mr Turnbull also accused his own predecessor, Tony Abbott, of being the nation’s most prominent climate denier in Australian politics, who was joined by others in a shameful “war against science”.

“It is an extraordinarily irrational and self-destructive approach,” Mr Turnbull said.

“The right [wing] in the Liberal Party essentially operate like terrorists,” he said.

“Now I’m not suggesting that they use guns and bombs or anything like that, but their approach is one of intimidation.

“And they basically say to the rest of the party… if you don’t do what we want, we will blow the show up. Famously one of the coup leaders said to me, ‘you have to give in to the terrorists’.”

January 23, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia May Add Record Amount of Renewable Power in 2020,

Australia May Add Record Amount of Renewable Power in 2020, Bloomberg, By James Thornhill, January 21, 2020

  • Corporate demand for clean electricity driving growth: Rystad
  •  Policy uncertainty seen undermining longer term expansion

Australia is set to add a record amount of renewable power in 2020, driven by growing corporate demand for clean electricity and to fill generation gaps created by the retirement of aging coal-fired plants.

New markets are expected to unlock growth as pilot hydrogen projects start and oil, gas and mining projects invest in off-grid renewables generation, according to Rystad Energy. The positive outlook would be a rebound for Australia’s clean energy developers after a sharp drop in investment in 2019.

“We expect the industry to bounce back in the second half of 2020,” Rystad said in a media release, citing projects with corporate power purchase agreements and the winners of government auction schemes that are scheduled to start construction this year.

Nearly 2 gigawatts of large-scale solar projects and 1.6 gigawatts of wind power are due to complete commissioning in the year ahead, up nearly 40% on 2019 levels. Wind and solar developers are also lining up to replace the Liddell coal plant in New South Wales, which is due to close by April 2023.

Still, developers may face headwinds over the longer term. The industry has already met the government’s 2020 target for renewable generation and there is no new target to replace it. Meanwhile, the profitability of projects located a long way from major demand centers has been hit by marginal loss factors — the amount of power lost along transmission lines.

Losing Momentum

Australia renewables investment fell 38% last year   “While the outlook for the commissioning of new projects still looks solid in 2020, there is a risk that activity tails off in the years ahead as the impact of falling investment starts to feed through,” said BloombergNEF analyst Leonard Quong.   AT TOP

January 23, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy | Leave a comment

Australia’s Finance Minister Mathias Cormann spruiks for coal and for Trump at Davos summit

Davos 2020: Climate critics are wrong, says Matthias Cormann THE AUSTRALIAN, 22 Jan 2020

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has declared global perceptions of Australia’s climate action are “false” as he defended both the coal industry and US President Donald Trump in front of world leaders at the Davos summit…. (subscribers only)

January 23, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Europe, too, is already affected by wildfire climate emergencies

Wildfires show us how the climate emergency is already affecting Europe, Guardian, Imogen West-Knights We look at the devastation of Australia’s bushfires and don’t believe it could happen here. But it already is, 22 Jan 2020  “………  what we’re seeing in Australia. Since the fire season began there, in the middle of last year, 29 people have died, along with more than a billion animals, and an area comparable in size to the whole of England has been ablaze. It’s a vicious reminder that, for all the sophistication of the modern world, something as primitive as fire can still bring us to our knees. As shocking as the scale of the destruction has been, though, it’s easy to see it on our computer screens here on the other side of the world, in the middle of a British winter, and feel disconnected from it. We accept that the climate emergency is now truly upon us yet still feel that it’s mostly happening to other people, elsewhere.wildfires are increasingly a problem for everyone, including in the UK. Last August, there were almost five times as many of them around the world as there had been the previous August. In the EU, the number of wildfires in the first half of 2019 was three times the annual average for the previous decade. And while they used to be a serious problem only in hotter, southern European countries such as Portugal and Spain, now northern Europe is in trouble too.

The Swedish fires of 2018 were by far the most severe in the country’s history, burning an area almost twice as large as the worst previous wildfire, in 2014. In the UK, 2018 and 2019 were the worst two years on record for wildfires, particularly on moors in the north-west of England and parts of Scotland. One fire last year, at Marsden Moor in Yorkshire, destroyed almost three square miles of land. The damage is on a very different scale to the almost 30,000 square miles that have burned in Australia, of course, but this is still a development we can’t afford to ignore.

Aside from all the more immediate effects – the threat to humans, livestock and wildlife – the recent increase in wildfires has been linked to severe air quality problems. People living up to 62 miles (100km) downwind of fires in the Pennines in 2018 were exposed to toxic fumes. And as there is no sign of cooler weather in the years ahead, it is reasonable to expect more fires in 2020. The EU has now established a fleet of firefighting planes, and the European Forest Institute has warned that unless we take steps to protect the countryside – for instance, by planting less-flammable species and creating barriers to the spread of flames – emergency services won’t be able to prevent the rapid spread and firestorms that have characterised the Australian crisis.

This isn’t all because of the climate crisis – changes to land use and increased urbanisation over several decades are also factors. Weather patterns are noisy data, and it’s difficult to attribute any single wildfire to the climate crisis. The scientific consensus, however, is that it is increasing the intensity and frequency of fire-conducive weather across the world.

Even those fires that are eventually linked to human error, like a still-lit disposable barbecue, are increasingly likely due to warming temperatures. Hotter summers mean more barbecues lit in the first place. The climate crisis is going to change the way we behave in every aspect of our lives. And with the probability of another summer of extreme weather coming, we will need to adapt to new dangers that won’t just be on the other side of the planet but, quite literally, in our own backyards.

It’s not at all clear that we’re ready for what might be coming. There is still a cognitive jump yet to be made when those of us in Europe read about the fires in Australia, from mourning the destruction there to recognising that we face some version of the same threat. When we look at Australia, we’re not looking at the future that might await Europe. That future is already here.

• Imogen West-Knights is a writer and freelance journalist


January 23, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Climate change could unlock new microbes and increase heat-related deaths

Climate change could unlock new microbes and increase heat-related deaths, Science Daily, January 22, 2020, Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine

Scientists warn that global climate change is likely to unlock dangerous new microbes, as well as threaten humans’ ability to regulate body temperature…..
Ahima, director of Johns Hopkins’ Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, wrote in the journal that “global warming threatens human thermoregulation and survival.”  ……
Casadevall’s article explores “the specter of new infectious diseases” as a result of the changing climate.

“Given that microbes can adapt to higher temperatures,” writes the professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, and infectious diseases, at Johns Hopkins’ schools of medicine and public health, “there is concern that global warming will select for microbes with higher heat tolerance that can defeat our endothermy defenses and bring new infectious diseases.”

Endothermy allows humans and other warm-blooded mammals to maintain high temperatures that can protect against infectious diseases by inhibiting many types of microbes.

Casadevall cites a particular climate threat from the fungal kingdom.

“We have proposed that global warming will lead many fungal species to adapt to higher temperatures,” he writes, “and some with pathogenic potential for humans will break through the defensive barrier provided by endothermy.”….

In all four JCI “Viewpoint” articles, long-term strategies are urged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the trend of rising temperatures. ….

January 23, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Youth in Bangladesh speak out on need for climate action

What it’s like to grow up as your country succumbs to the impacts of climate change, School students in Bangladesh are speaking out about the need to protect the planet and reduce emissions.  SBS NEWS, 23 JAN 2020, BRETT MASON SBS chief political correspondent Brett Mason reports from Dhaka, Bangladesh

If some of the more severe projections play out, Bangladesh could be ground zero for the climate crisis.

A sea level rise of half a metre by 2050 would see 12 per cent of Bangladesh’s landmass disappear, which would potentially displace 15 million people.

And the impact of a changing planet is already being felt there, with severe floods last year killing 60 people and displacing 800,000 more.

The United Nations has warned that one in three Bangladeshi children are now at risk from climate-linked disasters.

It’s a point that many young Bangladeshis are acutely aware of.

A number of students in the capital Dhaka have joined ‘green clubs’ that are funded by Australian aid.

In one school, a club is using donations to its ‘oxygen bank’ to plant a rooftop garden above its classrooms to try and mitigate emissions and slow the impact of global warming…….

Dhaka is home to 21 million people, with 1,000 more new residents arriving every day.

A staggering 82 per cent of the city is now concrete, with just six square kilometres of open space across the entire city……

The students had a message for the leaders of nations where emissions are rising not falling.

“Many people say the climate is not changing, but the climate is changing, very slowly. We need to be aware of this because our world is going to be destroyed if we aren’t,” Zilani said……… HTTPS://WWW.SBS.COM.AU/NEWS/WHAT-IT-S-LIKE-TO-GROW-UP-AS-YOUR-COUNTRY-SUCCUMBS-TO-THE-IMPACTS-OF-CLIMATE-CHANGE

January 23, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

A warning on the disappearance of insect species

Call for action on decline of insects: ‘Without them we’d be in big trouble NZ Herald, By Karoline Tuckey for RNZ, 22 Jan 2020

Governments around the world are being warned more must be done to prevent declining insect numbers, or the consequences could be severe and wide-reaching.

More than 70 scientists from 21 countries have written an appeal for immediate steps to reduce threats to insect species, and a roadmap to recovery, which has been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

“There is now a strong scientific consensus that the decline of insects … and biodiversity as a whole, is a very real and serious threat that society must urgently address,” the group said.

Waikato University’s Dr Christina Painting contributed to the text, and said a decline in insects could mean “big trouble” for humans because they were crucial to agriculture and healthy ecosystems.

Insect pollinators were needed for growing crops, to keep our forests healthy, and insects were the main food source for many of our native fish and birds, she said.

The group have praised the German government for committing €100 million ($NZ168m) to the problem, which they say is a “clarion call to other nations”.

What do they say should be done?

Painting said there were smart and achievable steps that could be taken to make an immediate difference.

“They’re ideas we think scientists, policymakers, land managers and communities can all use together to help insect conservation.”

High on the list is for natural areas to be planned for within urban and “homogenous” environments, which could provide havens for insects, and support species diversity.

“I think in New Zealand we’re pretty good and very proactive about trying to come up with restoration areas in both urban and in our conservation estate. But perhaps we haven’t really been thinking about what’s good for insects while we’ve been designing those programmes,” she said.

The group have also called for “aggressive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reversing agricultural intensification, including reduced [use of] synthetic pesticides and fertilisers and pursuing their replacement with agroecological measures.”

Phasing out pesticides could be one of the trickiest challenges, but it was important to start, Painting said.

“There are problems because they’re generally not that specific in the species they target – so if you put a broad-spectrum pesticide out it’s going to knock off not just the pest species you’re worried about for your crop, but also anything else that might be there. ……

more support was needed from the public and for government to recognise just how important insects ewre.

“We fund things that people value, and to date there has been a much lower appreciation of insects than other species, so it makes sense that we’ve seen less money put into insect conservation.”

More public education could lead to more appreciation for insects and the roles they play – and then should translate to more justification for policy-makers to commit funding to protect them, she said.

“Some of us think insects are gorgeous and very cute, but it’s crucial to understand that without them we’d be in big trouble – they’re just so incredible because it’s such an intricate system of interactions between different species and within communities – and we’re just in our infancy of understanding just how those pieces together.

“Those questions and the mystery around that alone, I think, is something we should really be excited about.”………

January 23, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Human race over-consuming the planet’s natural resources

And don’t let’s forget – the nuclear industry is counting on this!

World’s consumption of materials hits record 100bn tonnes a year, Unsustainable use of resources is wrecking the planet but recycling is falling, report finds, Damian Carrington Environment editor @dpcarrington, Wed 22 Jan 2020 . The amount of material consumed by humanity has passed 100bn tonnes every year, report has revealed, but the proportion being recycled is falling.

The climate and wildlife emergencies are driven by the unsustainable extraction of fossil fuels, metals, building materials and trees. The report’s authors warn that treating the world’s resources as limitless is leading towards global disaster.

The materials used by the global economy have quadrupled since 1970, far faster than the population, which has doubled. In the last two years, consumption has jumped by more than 8% but the reuse of resources has fallen from 9.1% to 8.6%.

The report, by the Circle Economy thinktank, was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Continue reading

January 23, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment

Japan faces decision over contaminated Fukushima water — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

The dismantling of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant continues in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 5, 2019. January 21, 2020 OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture—At the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant north of Tokyo, workers in protective suits are still removing radioactive material from reactors that melted down after an earthquake and tsunami […]

via Japan faces decision over contaminated Fukushima water — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

January 23, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Forgetting Fukushima — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

21st January 2020 By Jim Green – Nuclear Monitor Irresponsible tactics are being used to bury social and environmental problems associated with the Fukushima nuclear disaster as Olympics approach in Japan. Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe assured the International Olympic Committee in 2013 that “the situation is under control” in and around the stricken Fukushima […]

via Forgetting Fukushima — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

January 23, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi Frozen Wall Leaks — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

Fukushima nuclear plant’s frozen wall leaks Jan. 17, 2020 Tokyo Electric Power Company says coolant has seeped out from an underground frozen soil wall built around its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The frozen soil wall came into operation four years ago. It was built to keep groundwater from flowing into reactor buildings. They were […]

via Fukushima Daiichi Frozen Wall Leaks — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

January 23, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hiroshima High Courtorder Ikata nuclear reactor to be halted — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

A group of people supporting residents opposed to running the No. 3 reactor at the Ikata nuclear power plant applaud Friday outside the Hiroshima High Court after Shikoku Electric Co. was ordered to suspend the unit. Shikoku Electric again ordered to halt Ikata nuclear reactor over volcano risk Jan 17, 2020 The Hiroshima High Court […]

via Hiroshima High Courtorder Ikata nuclear reactor to be halted — Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

January 23, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear safety costs – $123 billion

Costs for managing Japan’s nuclear plants to total 13 trillion yen,
KYODO NEWS – Jan 15, 2020   The total costs to implement government-mandated safety measures, maintain facilities and decommission commercially operated nuclear power plants in Japan will reach around 13.46 trillion yen ($123 billion), a Kyodo News tally showed Wednesday.

The amount, which could balloon further and eventually lead to higher electricity fees, was calculated based on financial documents from 11 power companies that own 57 nuclear reactors at 19 plants, as well as interviews with the utilities. Continue reading

January 23, 2020 Posted by | General News | Leave a comment