Australian news, and some related international items

Economic viability of new giant Olympic Dam uranium mine is in question

BHP Could Net $6 Billion By Selling Olympic Dam Stake: Deutsche   WSJ,  By Robb M. Stewart, 8 June 12 With question marks hanging over the timing of BHP Billiton’s massive expansion of the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, could a sale of a minority stake to a strategic partner offer the answer?….. The expansion of Olympic Dam is one of three $10 billion-plus “mega” projects that BHP’s board is due to decide on by the end of the year.

But with costs in Australia and other countries escalating and commodities prices slumping, the thinking of many analysts is that approval for one or more projects will be deferred.

In a research report, Deutsche valued Olympic Dam after all five phases of its expansion at about $14 billion on a life-of-mine net present value. But the internal rate of return was a modest 11.3% due to the large upfront cost to develop an open pit at the mine site…..

June 9, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

BHP investors disillusioned with Olympic Dam uranium mine expansion plans

Sell stake in mine, BHP urged Olga Galacho , Herald Sun  June 09, 2012, BHP Billiton should cheer up its shareholders by undertaking a radical sale of 20 per cent of its copper-uranium Olympic Dam mine to a venture partner, broking
house Deutsche Bank suggested yesterday. Analyst Paul Young estimated such a deal could fetch about $6 billion, which the miner could use to fund the first part of its expansion plan for the South Australian mine and boost returns to shareholders.

But his counterpart at UBS, Glyn Lawcock slammed the idea, saying shareholders would be highly disappointed if BHP sold part of a tier-one asset….. BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers this week continued to stoke speculation that the miner might put the giant mine expansion on ice indefinitely..… Deutsche Bank believes investors are reflecting their disillusionment with the value of these long-term projects in the share market.

June 9, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

Call for moratorium on industrial development at Point Lowly, to save Giant Cuttlefish from extinction

CUTTLEFISH numbers at a key breeding ground in Spencer Gulf have plummeted, the Greens say. Greens state MP Mark Parnell said local divers at the Point Lowly site
have reported a huge drop in numbers during the current breeding season.

“This annual marine breeding spectacle is of worldwide significance, not to mention how important it is for the local tourism industry,” Mr Parnell said in a statement on Friday. He said the state government must conduct an immediate investigation
to determine the cause of the slump in numbers. “First step is commissioning some urgent research by marine scientists
to find out exactly what is going on,” he said.

“Next is a moratorium on all industrial development at Point Lowly until the cause of the decline is discovered.” Mr Parnell said the annual breeding of the giant Australian cuttlefish at Point Lowly is the world’s only known mass cuttlefish spawning
event. “The permanent loss of this annual breeding event would be devastating,” he said.

June 9, 2012 Posted by | environment, South Australia | | Leave a comment

Wind farms supported by majority of people in South Australia, Victoria and NSW

 those who opposed wind power were “out of step with community thinking”.

Two-thirds (67 per cent) of people believed a farmer’s right to generate income from their land was more important than a resident’s right to a view clear of wind turbines.

People worrying themselves sick’ over windfarms Political Reporter Lauren Novak June 07, 2012 MORE than 80 per cent of people believe health concerns about wind farms will “turn out to be nothing to worry about”, a survey commissioned by the Clean Energy Council says. Continue reading

June 8, 2012 Posted by | New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, wind | , | Leave a comment

Nuclear power not viable for South Australia, says Premier Jay Weatherill

SA Premier rejects nuclear argument THE AUSTRALIAN  June 05, 2012 Premier Jay Weatherill says the South Australian Government remains opposed to nuclear energy as an avenue to cutting carbon

.. Mr Weatherill says using nuclear energy is not on the table. “It doesn’t represent the policy of this Government,” he said. “Leaving aside the broader objections, there is a practical, financial objective that means that nuclear power for South Australia is unlikely to be viable.”

June 6, 2012 Posted by | politics, South Australia | | Leave a comment

Unique Australian species – the giant cuttlefish now more threatened by Olympic Damn expansion.

It has also emerged that subtle changes to the wording of the Olympic Dam mine’s approval watered down recommended protection of the giant cuttlefish. 

 following a meeting with Mr Burke, the department [had] backflipped.

Greens SA leader Mark Parnell, who obtained the documents under Freedom of Information, said it would be much harder for the department to prosecute BHP Billiton if anything went wrong.

Cuttlefish population in decline: BHP, Heather Kennett | Brad Crouch, 4 June 12 June 02, 2012   A NEW study has found a serious reduction in giant cuttlefish numbers in the region around Whyalla.  Research commissioned by BHP Billiton – which wants to build a desalination plant near Whyalla – has found the cuttlefish population is already in serious decline ahead of hyper-saline brine being pumped from a future plant into Spencer Gulf….

. Tens of thousands of giant cuttlefish head to the Whyalla region each
winter to breed, which has become a tourist attraction. Their annual ritual has also become a pivotal environmental argument against BHP Billiton’s coastal desalination plant, which is part of its planned expansion of the Olympic Dam mine. ….. Continue reading

June 4, 2012 Posted by | politics, South Australia | | Leave a comment

Despite the anti-wind hype, South Australia’s success shows the power of renewable energy

Australian energy ministers have been so keen on geothermal, because they can most readily understand the concept of drilling for energy. You can’t dig up solar and wind power.

Not only are wind and solar playing increasingly significant roles in the power grid, but they are also helping to make wholesale electricity prices cheaper.

the progress with renewable energy in South Australia is promising and shows that with a friendly policy environment – for example, no 2km wind farm exclusion zones – great strides can be made.

Are the lights still on in South Australia? Business Spectator, Daniel Palmer , 1 Jun 2012   “……I was concerned for the state of South Australia after receiving some interesting news during the day – wind now makes up 31 per cent of the state’s power supply, with solar PV accounting for another 3.5 per cent.

According to a leading energy advisory firm (Energy Quest), wind already “appears to be the new baseload.” Not bad in spite of the campaign against wind by they-who-shall-not-be-named……. . I have been told for years that wind and solar are not capable of supplying power consistently enough to power one house, yet alone be able to supply a third of the energy needs for an entire state.

It appears to be all a Y2K-like false alarm however, with everything operating as normal…. Continue reading

June 2, 2012 Posted by | energy, South Australia | | Leave a comment

South Australia’s wind power figures vindicate radical energy plan, May 31, 2012 Beyond Zero Emissions released the statement below on May 31. Yesterday energy consultants EnergyQuest broke the news that wind power supplied 31% of South Australia’s electricity in the last quarter. Continue reading

June 2, 2012 Posted by | South Australia, wind | , | Leave a comment

South Australia’s baseload power from wind energy

Wind Power ‘The New Baseload’ In South Australia main_page=news_article&article_id=3231 by Energy Matters, 31 May 12 Achieving 20% renewable energy in Australia by 2020 isn’t impossible – in fact, South Australia has already blown past goal that courtesy of wind energy primarily, with a helping hand from residential solar panel installations. Continue reading

June 2, 2012 Posted by | South Australia, wind | , | Leave a comment

Investors not happy with giant uranium mine project, Olympic Dam’s future is questionable

 BHP’s chairman Jacques Nasser said the company would not proceed with all of its previously planned $80 billion worth of expansion plans.

Platypus Asset Management portfolio manager Prasad Patkar says Olympic Dam is not the company’s top expansion priority…..  When asked if Olympic Dam project’s future was more questionable, Mr Patkar summed it up in one word: “yeah”.

Olympic Dam expansion may fall at last hurdle ABC News, By business reporter Michael Janda May 31, 2012  Analysts estimate the cost of BHP Billiton’s proposed Olympic Dam mine expansion at $30 billion, making it one of the biggest corporate investment commitments in history.

But the latest global economic wobbles appear to have given the world’s largest miner a severe case of commitment-phobia. Continue reading

June 1, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

As BHP reins in spending, Olympic Dam uranium mine the most likely project to drop

BHP’s investment plans and faltering share price have been a concern for investors, …… Analysts and government ministers have estimated the investment in expanding Olympic Dam could top $30 billion ….

BHP’s New Mine Projects Look Less Assured, WSJ,May 31, 2012, BHP Billiton’s more cautious approach to investment may mean approval for several $10 billion-plus “mega” projects won’t come this year, setting the stage for heightened friction with governments and increased calls for cash to be returned to shareholders if development spending is reined in. Continue reading

June 1, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

BHP’s decision on Olympic Damn megamine delayed till late 2013?

BHP keeps South Australia waiting on Olympic Dam board decision , BY: MICHAEL OWEN The Australian May 31, 2012 BHP uranium president Dean Dalla Valle says the company “would deal with it then” if a board decision on the expansion of Olympic Dam could not be made by the government’s deadline of December 8.

“There will be a decision at the end of the year and that’s all we can say for now,” Mr Dalla Valle said yesterday….. company analysts now expect that Olympic Dam and other “mega” projects under consideration by the company will not be given the go-ahead until the December half of next year in response to rising economic uncertainty…

June 1, 2012 Posted by | politics, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment

Close dirty coal-fired power stations – we want renewable energy, say Port Augusta residents

The State Government says above average lung cancer levels in the city are caused by smoking.

Locals lobby for renewable power May 22, 2012  Port Augusta residents want the town’s coal fired power stations replaced with renewable alternatives . Residents at Port Augusta in South Australia’s north have launched a campaign to replace the city’s two ageing coal-fired power stations. A community group has been set up to encourage a switch to renewable energy. Continue reading

May 24, 2012 Posted by | energy, South Australia | | Leave a comment

Dubious future for uranium market – will BHP pull the plug on the Olympic Dam project?

projects such as the massive expansion of the Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine in Australia and the potash development in Canada are far less certain…… Where the money is put will say a lot about their expectations for demand for specific commodities now and into the future.

 Knives Are Out, But Will BHP and Rio Cut?, WSJ, By Robb M. Stewart, May 16, 2012,    BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have signaled that harder times lie ahead for global miners but have given little indication of where the cuts, if any, will come to the billions of dollars worth of mining projects that both have in the pipeline in Australia and globally.

Neither is backtracking on their long held view about China’s long-term demand for iron ore and coal, but it is now clear that not every expansion project is guaranteed to get off the ground in the current environment–and those that do will be phased in over a longer time period…

… “Clearly what we’ve seen over the last 12 months or so is that our projected rate of cash generation has changed. So on balance while we still want to invest throughout the cycle, it just means that our ability to do those projects will change as the cash flow generation has changed,” Marius Kloppers, chief executive of BHP, told a mining conference in Miami overnight…..
Jacques Nasser, the mining giant’s chairman, speaking in Sydney on
Wednesday made it even clearer: the US$80 billion over five years that
BHP has previously said would be invested on its mining and petroleum
businesses, is no longer a target. Continue reading

May 18, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia | | Leave a comment

Investment fund manager relieved that BHP will delay expansion

Fund manager welcomes BHP’s capex pullback, THE AUSTRALIAN,BY:BARRY FITZGERALD , May 18, 2012 BHP Billiton’s move to wind back plans to spend $US80 billion ($80.5bn) over five years on growth projects has been applauded by the head of Perennial Investment Partners’ growth funds, Lee Mickelburough.

Mr Mickelburough was one of the few local investment managers to publicly criticise BHP’s big-bang growth plan after it was revealed by the company in February last year…  subscribers only

May 18, 2012 Posted by | business, South Australia, uranium | | Leave a comment