Australia: positive nuclear news for 2015

Sweeney, Dave 1

Dave Sweeney 24 Dec 15

Positives:

·         Uranium: the sector remains actively contested and deeply under-performing. Production rates, company value and exploration expenditure are all down. In WA no new uranium mines have been fully approved, in Qld the state prohibition on uranium mining was restored and Rio Tinto advised subsidiary ERA that it would not finance further mining at Ranger – a major step towards the end of uranium mining in Kakadu.

 

·         Politics and policy: Against the run of play the cross party Joint Standing Committee on Treaties recommended no uranium sales to India at this time or under the terms of the current Agreement. WA Labor reaffirmed a strong anti-uranium policy, Queensland Labor were returned to office and shut the door on uranium mining while federal Labor’s national conference saw moves to weaken policy on domestic nuclear power and international nuclear waste headed off. The Australian Greens kept the industry under active scrutiny through public profile and effective Parliamentary action.

 

·         Indigenous collaboration: The nuclear free movement’s foundation platform of green-black cooperation continued and grew through a series of initiatives. The Walkatjurra Walkabout linked communities and country in the West, there was extensive regional outreach in South Australia – especially in response to the state nuclear Royal Commission and Adnyamathanha positioning on radioactive waste, public recognition saw Karina and Rose Lester share the SA Conservation Council’s Jill Hudson prize while Jack Green received ACF’s Rawlinson award for his work highlighting the impacts of the Macarthur River mine, the Mirarr people’s sustained resistance was heard loud and clear by Rio Tinto and continues to inspire, Aboriginal presenters took their stories to global forums and there was a powerful and positive Australian Nuclear Free Alliance national gathering in Quorn.

 

·         Radioactive waste: the revised federal approach acknowledges the principle of community consent and keeps the door open to consider other management options. There is clear community concern/opposition at each of the six sites currently under consideration for a national facility. Reprocessed spent nuclear fuel waste was returned and is now in storage at ANSTO – without major incident or calls for it to be moved ‘out bush’. Information materials and outreach sessions have gone widely.

 

·         International connections: the year saw strong and growing global connections and included active engagement in the US walk and other activities based around the NPT Review, the World Uranium Symposium in Quebec and subsequent Canadian nuclear communities road trip, ICAN’s extensive international work and forums in Taiwan, Europe, Japan and the Nuclearisation of Africa gathering in Johannesburg.

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