Archive for the ‘Northern Territory’ Category

Energy Resources of Australia drops plan for deep underground uranium mine at Ranger

June 12, 2015

Ranger-3Uranium miner Energy Resources Australia pulls plug on 3 Deeps expansion, ABC News 11 June 15   Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) will not proceed with its proposed 3 Deeps expansion project at the present time, the company has announced to the stock exchange.

In a statement, the company said the uranium market has not improved like ERA had previously expected and there is uncertainty as to what prices would do in the future.

The company also said the mine only had the authority to operate until 2021, and the economics of the project required certainty beyond that point. Those conditions meant ERA would not proceed to a final feasibility study at this time, the statement said. ERA will continue to “process stockpiles and meet obligations to its customers”, the statement said.

The 3 Deeps expansion would have seen the Ranger Uranium Mine commence underground operations for the first time. Its current operations are open-cut.

ERA said it had engaged its major shareholder, Rio Tinto, about funding to rehabilitate the mine site, which is completely ensconced by Kakadu National Park.

The company previously said rehabilitation was funded under its current business plan, but if the 3 Deeps expansion did not go ahead it would require another source of funding to pay for all of the rehabilitation works…… http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-11/energy-resources-australia-pulls-plug-on-3-deeps-expansion/6540046

Senator Nigel Scullion and Australia’s Federal Government betraying Aboriginals on land Rights?

December 13, 2014

Northern Land Council accuses Senator Nigel Scullion of breaking election promise on land rights, ABC News  By the National Reporting Team’s Kate Wild 11 Dec 14 Australia’s largest Aboriginal land council has accused Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Nigel Scullion of breaking a promise that the Coalition, if it won government, would not review or amend the Land Rights Act.

Holding a copy of Senator Scullion’s press release, titled No changes to NT Land Rights and dated August 14, 2013, Northern Land Council (NLC) deputy chairman John Daly accused the Minister of proposing a review of land rights legislation without the consent of traditional owners.

“Prior to him getting in as the Minister, this here says he wasn’t going to do any reviews or anything like that without the consent of traditional owners and the land council,” he said.

Really there isn’t, and hasn’t been, any conversation with Aboriginal people about the future of the Land Rights Act.

Joe Morrison, NLC chief executive

“And this is just another broken promise from this government.”

The comments were made today at a full council meeting that Senator Scullion did not attend………..

NLC’s questions are ‘pressing for the nation’

NLC chief executive Joe Morrison said council members wanted to put questions to the Minister they believed were “pressing for the nation”.

These included Federal Government plans to water down the Land Rights Act, pressure on Aboriginal towns to sign 99 year leases, and the Federal Government’s use of Aboriginal money earned from mining royalties, he said.………….

He said a stand-off between the Federal Government and land councils on who administers Aboriginal land could have a negative impact on the constitutional recognition of Aboriginal Australians.

Since the Prime Minister’s announcement in October other states had shown interest in joining the review of the administration of Aboriginal land, according to Mr Morrison.

“Really there isn’t, and hasn’t been, any conversation with Aboriginal people about the future of the Land Rights Act,” he said.

“Yet again we’re going through this discourse nationally about Land Administration arrangements when we’ve continuously proved that the Land Council system is able to deliver on leases and third party interests.”

NLC ‘disappointed’ and ‘frustrated’ by Scullion no-show

Mr Daly said the full council, which had prepared a list of pressing questions, had been told the Minister would not be attending half an hour after he was due to arrive…………..

“It’s no longer good enough for the Minister and the Prime Minister to stay away.

“We need to deal with these issues now.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-11/nlc-accuses-scullion-of-breaking-election-promise-on-land-rights/5961088

AREVA to get 51% interest, later up to 80%, in uranium deal with Toro Energy

October 1, 2014

AREVA-Medusa1Toro signs NT deal with AREVA https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/wa/a/25132512/toro-signs-nt-deal-with-areva/ The West AustralianSeptember 29, 2014 Toro Energy has signed a farm-in and joint venture agreement with French uranium and nuclear power giant AREVA in the Northern Territory.

The agreement covers a 2292sqkm tenement package in the Wiso Basin, southwest of Tennant Creek.

“Toro believes that its relatively unexplored Wiso Basin tenement package is ideally placed for exploring for a sandstone-hosted uranium mineralising system of a size and scale not unlike those found in Kazakhstan, where six of the world’s top 15 producing uranium mines are currently in operation,” the company said in a statement.

Toro’s managing director Dr Vanessa Guthrie said the company was excited to have AREVA participate in a substantial exploration portfolio at a time when few companies were actively exploring for uranium in Australia.

“We look forward to adding value to our NT exploration targets through a long and beneficial relationship with one of the world’s most respected uranium groups,” she said. Under the terms of the agreement, AREVA will spend $500,000 within two years of to earn a 51 per cent interest in the joint venture properties.

Upon reaching 51 per cent, AREVA will then have the option to spend another $1.5 million over four years for a further 29 per cent interest for a total 80 per cent stake.

Drilling is expected to begin in the first half of 2015.

Toro shares closed steady at 9.1 cents.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion works for miners, not Aborigines

August 20, 2014
handsoffNothing for Aborigines in Scullion’s manoeuvres ALISON ANDERSON THE AUSTRALIAN AUGUST 20, 2014 
  THERE is a lack of mystery about the machinations of Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion in his drive to devolve power to smaller local land councils and Aboriginal corporations. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, he pretends to be one of us, out to provide power to the people. But he is not one of us — he is out for blood, the blood of the Northern and Central land councils. In reality, his proposed power shift will benefit only the minister, the Country Liberal Party in the Northern Territory and their friends in mining, gas and agriculture.

By removing powers from the statutory authorities of the land councils, Scullion will undermine the collective authority of traditional owners over huge tracts of land. This collective ownership is the Aboriginal way; Tjukurrpa defines our relationships with the land. These relationships will be diminished by the government attitude of divide and conquer.

Perhaps it is an easy sales pitch to the mainstream world, to claim that we, remote Aboriginal people, are holding ourselves back. Or to claim that there will be no progress unless we are split into smaller, more containable, groups. Why? Because smaller numbers are easier to buy off? Because the lack of an independent Environment Protection Authority or an independent Development Consent Authority in the Territory means that this is the prime time to rape and pillage the land, before anyone looks too closely?

For Aboriginal people, the value of our land is deeper than a simple market value. It is a lasting legacy for our families. That does not mean that no development is warranted, but it needs to be on our terms. The land has to last us forever, not just for a brief boom-and-bust cycle that mostly benefits people from elsewhere.

Disassembling the collective authority over our land will not drive development. ……..

If the white knights want to ride in from distant lands and heroically try to save us from ourselves, why don’t they start by offering our children access to a real education? Nothing more, nothing less. The chance for our children to compete with any other children across Australia. Without this step in remote communities, no other development will be sustainable or meaningful.

After years of skimming commonwealth funds earmarked to ameliorate Aboriginal disadvantage, the source is finally drying up. The Territory government is close to the precipice of economic stagnation. Now the government must try to leverage Aboriginal lands in a squalid bid to attract corporate money to the Territory. It is a strategy doomed to failure.

Uninspiring catchphrases such as “Creating Parity” and “Developing the North” cannot become a reality without the participation of Aboriginal people. The economic wealth of the Territory depends on Aboriginal participation, including that of Aboriginal lands. That responsibility is not one that we will give up lightly under pressure from the commonwealth, the Territory or vested interests.

The governments of the day have made their motivations clear. They fear the collective power of Aboriginal people. They fear the power of the very statutory authorities that they created. But they do not speak with us and they definitely do not speak for us. We will have the last word.

Alison Anderson is the member for Namatjira in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/nothing-for-aborigines-in-scullions-manoeuvres/story-e6frg6zo-1227029853648

Australia’s Pine Gap now involved in unethical drone killing strikes

August 14, 2014

Pine Gap communications facility’s operations ‘ethically unacceptable’, Professor Des Ball says, ABC News By Dylan Wench 12 Aug 14  A senior strategic analyst has called for the Federal Government to rethink the Pine Gap communications facility, saying some of its work now is “ethically unacceptable”.Australian National University Professor Des Ball previously supported the joint Australia-US communications facility near Alice Springs, but changes to its role since the Al Qaeda attacks in 2001 have changed his mind.

“I’ve reached the point now where I can no longer stand up and provide the verbal, conceptual justification for the facility that I was able to do in the past,” he said.

Pine Gap is the jewel in the crown of Australia-US intelligence sharing, detecting nuclear weapons and intercepting communications around the globe. But for the past decade it has also been involved in the US drone program, which has killed thousands of militants and some civilians in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq.

“We’re now locked into this global network where intelligence and operations have become essentially fused,” Professor Ball told 7.30. “And Pine Gap is a key node in that network – that war machine, if you want to use that term – which is doing things which are very, very difficult I think, as an Australian, to justify.”…….

“We’ve already entered into a new phase of warfare where intelligence and unmanned vehicles of various sorts, under the water, killer satellites in space, are being fed from intelligence sources like Pine Gap – still one of the two biggest stations of this sort in the world – and we’re thoroughly embedded into it,” Professor Ball said……….

…..what is causing Professor Ball concern. “The drone program puts some of these dilemmas on a plate in front of you,” he said. “You have to start confronting this conflation of intelligence and operations, which has been an ongoing process now for some time.

“But the drones bring it right out in front, including on your television sets, and including the fact that I don’t know either how many terrorists have been killed by drones.

“But I would not be surprised if the total number of children exceeds the total number of terrorists. I don’t know.”

And he fears support of lethal US operations is becoming a steadily increasing part of what Pine Gap does.

“Aspects of what is collected there, the general surveillance function expanding, and the now increasing military operational uses, if they were really to change the balance around so that Pine Gap basically became a war fighting machine rather than an intelligence collector, then I think we all have to have second thoughts.”http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-13/pine-gap-us-drone-program-ethically-unacceptable-analyst/5669336

Northern Territory: Victoria Daly Regional Council changes its mind about hosting radioactive waste dump

August 8, 2014

Top End council denies radio-active dump plans ABC News  ABC Rural  By Carmen Brown  8 Aug 14 The Victoria Daly Regional Council is backing away from reports it is planning to build a dump capable of storing radio-active material in the Top End.

A council employee revealed plans to build a 100 hectare waste facility near Timber Creek, which would be used to store municipal waste and ‘listed’ items including farm chemicals, acids and low-level radio-active medical waste.

However, Victoria Daly Regional Council Mayor, Steven Hennesey, denies the claims and says the site will only be used for household rubbish and asbestos.

“It is not, under any circumstances, going to deal with radio-active waste, and it is not going to be a toxic dump,” he said……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-06/top-end-council-denies-radio-active-dump-claims/5651756

Sorry, Tony Abbott, solar power is thriving in Central Australia

July 23, 2014

Red Centre keeps shining as solar technology hub http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-22/alice-springs-solar-hub-technology/5613534  ABC Rural  By Lauren Fitzgerald Central Australia is continuing to attract international investment from the solar industry, despite the Alice Solar City initiative wrapping up more than a year ago. In its five-year history, the program helped hundreds of homes and businesses install solar panels and solar hot water systems.

The general manager of the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), Lyndon Frearson, says Alice Springs now also has a reputation as a hub for developing technology.

solar-stATION-aLICE-sPRINGS

He says companies from China, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Switzerland and America are all installing different solar PV modules at the CAT site. “The range of their investment varies depending on the size of the facility that they want to put in,” he said.

“Some of them are putting in little five-kilowatt systems as a test site, where they might be putting a number of small test sites around the world, through to a Swiss-based company which only has three R & D [research and development] facilities in the world, and they chose to build one of them here.

“And certainly those investments are in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Mr Frearson says local businesses like the Alice Springs Airport are also demonstrating an ongoing commitment to solar. “They received a subsidy to do their original project, but they’ve just [installed] 320 kilowatts off their own bat, completely their own investment. “And that’s both a maturing of the economics, that the solar panels are cheaper and the energy prices have changed.

“But it also shows a degree of confidence that they as an organisation and their board have in the technology to better run their business. “And there are a number of examples within Alice and broader afield throughout central Australia where different entities are making those decisions.

“So I think the legacy of Alice Solar City in central Australia is strong. “Certainly it’s something we see people talking about with pride, and we still see people outside of Alice focus very heavily on and see Alice Springs as a leader in this space.”

Energy Resources of Australia(ERA)’s new Ranger uranium mine may well not get off the ground, let alone under it

July 12, 2014

Technical hitches bedevil ERA’s Ranger mine by: Matt Chambers The Australian July 12, 2014 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/technical-hitches-bedevil-eras-ranger-mine/story-e6frg9df-1226986174550   URANIUM producer Energy Resources of Australia could face more problems at its Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu National Park, flagging potential higher costs that Credit Suisse says could stop a planned underground ­expansion.

Ranger-3

The Darwin-based Rio Tinto subsidiary said its Ranger 3 Deeps exploration decline project was experiencing tougher than expected geotechnical conditions. “Some geotechnical conditions have been encountered that are less favourable than assumed,” ERA said in its June quarter report, released on Thursday.

“These findings are being factored in to the mine design and the pre-feasibility study.”

While the market was little moved by the report on Thursday, Credit Suisse analyst Matthew Hope saw red flags.“We believe the results of the Deeps resource drilling are poor,” Mr Hope said yesterday in a note to clients.“The rock is probably heavily fractured, so extensive rock bolting and meshing will likely be required to prevent the access drives from collapsing,” Mr Hope said.

Credit Suisse downgraded its rating on ERA from outperform to underperform, and cut its target price by two-thirds from $1.50 to just 50c.

Mr Hope said value in ERA was almost entirely based on whether Ranger 3 Deeps would be mined. “If ERA announces at the end of this year that Ranger Deeps is not viable, then the share price should collapse to very low levels, with only option value remaining,” he said.

“Ranger Deeps either adds value or there is close to none, and risks are increasing towards the latter.”Ranger shares slipped 0.5c to $1.16 yesterday, giving the company a market value of $600m.

Aboriginal Traditional Owners succeed in legal challenge- Maurice Blackburn statement

June 19, 2014

justiceMuckaty station nuclear waste dump will not go ahead: Aboriginal Traditional Owners succeed in legal challenge Maurice Blackburn statement, 19 June 2014 http://www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/about/media-centre/media-statements/2014/muckaty-station-nuclear-waste-dump-will-not-go-ahead-aboriginal-traditional-owners-succeed-in-legal-challenge/ Plans to build a nuclear waste dump on Aboriginal land at Muckaty Station near Tennant Creek will not go ahead after the Commonwealth agreed not to act upon the nomination of the site by the Northern Land Council (NLC).

Leading social justice law firm Maurice Blackburn has been acting for Traditional Owners opposed to the dump in a four-year legal fight that was two weeks into a Federal Court trial when it was resolved.
The parties plan to ask that Justice Anthony North of the Federal Court dismiss the proceedings, which were due to continue in Darwin next week. This settlement is without any admission of liability.
Elizabeth O’Shea, head of Maurice Blackburn’s social justice practice said:
“Aboriginal people at Muckaty have been fighting this plan for more than seven years and are overjoyed to have secured this outcome.
“We are thrilled to share in the relief and excitement our clients are feeling, knowing that their country will not be the site of the country’s first nuclear waste dump.”
The matter has been run by Maurice Blackburn on a pro bono basis.  Barristers including Ron Merkel QC and David Yarrow have also acted pro bono.
“Just like the class actions and other landmark cases brought by Maurice Blackburn, our pro bono cases provide access to justice and make a real difference in terms of public accountability”, Ms O’Shea said.
Lorna Fejo, a Traditional Owner said:
“I feel ecstatic. I feel free because it was a long struggle to protect my land. I feel really happy about this decision because my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren can go to Namerini safely. This is what Australia is: it is a free land and Traditional Owners must always be free to express what they want done on their land.
“My grandmother gave me that land in perfect condition and other lands to my two brothers, who are now deceased. It was our duty to protect that land and water because it was a gift from my grandmother to me. And now that I am 84 years old, and I have had to fight hard to protect this land for my grandchildren and great grandchildren, it is now a gift which I will be able to pass onto them in its perfect condition, like I had received it.”
LEGAL BACKGROUND
A fee simple estate in Muckaty Station was granted to the Muckaty Aboriginal Land Trust (MLT, a respondent to the proceeding) in 1999 following a claim under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth) (ALRA). The MLT holds Muckaty Station on trust under the ALRA for the benefit of the traditional Aboriginal owners of Muckaty Station and of other Aboriginal persons entitled to enter upon or use the land in accordance with Aboriginal tradition.
The Northern Land Council (NLC, also a respondent) is a body established under ALRA to supervise and administer Aboriginal land trusts in respect of areas in the Northern Territory including Muckaty Station.  The NLC is responsible under ALRA for giving lawful directions to and acting on behalf of the MLT for the benefit of the traditional Aboriginal owners of and the Aboriginal people holding an interest in Muckaty Station.
In June 2007, the NLC purported to nominate a portion of Muckaty Station as a potential site for the management and storage of radioactive waste.
Traditional Owners alleged in the action that the NLC failed to take appropriate steps to ensure the traditional Aboriginal owners understood the nature and purpose of the nomination, and failed to obtain proper consent before nominating the site.
Legal proceedings against the Commonwealth and the NLC were commenced in June 2010. The Federal Court trial began on 2 June 2014.

A win for Muckaty Aboriginals as the nuclear waste dump plan is abandoned

June 19, 2014

Muckaty-nuclear-freeLand council abandons Muckaty dump push June 19, 2014 Neda Vanovachttp://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/land-council-abandons-muckaty-dump-push-20140619-3af4c.html The Northern Land Council (NLC) has abandoned its push to locate a national nuclear waste dump on Muckaty Station in the Northern Territory.

A surprises settlement was offered by lawyers for opponents of the dump and was signed off on Wednesday in Melbourne.

It comes halfway through a roving series of Federal Court hearings to take evidence from a number of Aboriginal clans from the station, 120km north of Tennant Creek, who said their wishes were overruled by a fifth clan and the NLC, who worked together to nominate the site.

The groups have been battling the dump for seven years since Muckaty was formally nominated in 2007.

The NLC says it settled out of concern for relations among the clans.

“The NLC notes that its acceptance of the offer is done without any admission of liability – that is, without any admission that the nomination was made in error,” CEO Joe Morrison said on Thursday.

Lawyers for the traditional land owners at Muckaty Station said their clients were overjoyed with the outcome.

“Every step of the process was opposed by people on the ground, and that may be one reason why they’ve decided to no longer rely on litigation,” Maurice Blackburn lawyer Elizabeth O’Shea told reporters in Melbourne.

Traditional owner Lorna Fejo said she had fought hard to protect the land for her children and grandchildren.

“My grandmother gave me that land in perfect condition and other lands to my two brothers, who are now deceased,” she said in a statement.

“It was our duty to protect that land and water because it was a gift from my grandmother to me.”

She said she would now be able to pass it on in perfect condition.

The Australian government has subsequently dumped plans to locate the facility at Muckaty.

Following a request from the NLC the site is off the agenda, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said.

The council will be given the opportunity to nominate an alternative location.

“If a suitable site is not identified … the government will commence a new tender process for nominations for another site,” Mr Macfarlane said.