Archive for the ‘Queensland’ Category

Queensland government won’t mind exporting uranium through Great Barrier Reef

August 14, 2014

Darwin and Adelaide likely export hubs for Queensland uranium (includes audios) ABC Rural  By Marty McCarthy 14 Aug 14  “……….Mr Sweeney also says he’s not convinced by the Queensland Government’s assertions that Queensland ports won’t export uranium in the near future, negating the need for transfer to Darwin or Adelaide. “The Queensland Government has had a number of direct opportunities to rule [exporting from Queensland] out and it hasn’t,” he said.

“They’ve kept the door open for future uranium exports from a Queensland Port, and particularly from the Port of Townsville.”

“We’ve seen in both the Federal Government’s energy white paper, and in clear statements by the Australian Uranium Association, an industry body, a desire to develop an east coast port for uranium exports,” he said.

Mr Sweeney suspects Townsville is the most likely city to become a future Queensland-based export hub for uranium, despite Mr Cripps’ saying it is unlikely. “The Ben Lomond [uranium] project is 50 kilometres up the road from Townsville, now you join those dots and you get a picture of ships through the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

Canadian miner Mega Uranium, although interested in the Ben Lomond site, it is yet to announce plans to re-open it.

However, a French-owned mining company is spending millions of dollars on uranium exploration near remote towns in north-west Queensland, in a race to be the state’s first uranium miner since the ban 32 years ago.

AREVA Resources has drilled more than 90 holes since late 2012, and managing director Joe Potter says the company plans to continue searching.

“The change in policy and the certainty around the ability to mine uranium in Queensland has given us the confidence to press on with our exploration and see if we can become the first uranium miner,” he said.

The company plans to continue searching around Cloncurry, west of Mt Isa, later this year……


Coal utilities financial ‘death spiral’ as solar rooftops proliferate in Australia

July 21, 2014

Game-changing rooftop solar boom is squeezing the profits out of coal power in Australia Michael Graham Richard (@Michael_GR)  14 July 14

Solar power briefly turned electricity prices negative in Queensland Australia is known for its coal, which provides over 80% of its electricity and is a big export, but someday soon it might be known for its solar power. Thanks to rapidly falling solar PV prices, there’s been a rooftop solar boom in Australia. It’s now reaching a point where few coal generators made money last year, and even fewer will make profits this year… Wholesale energy pricing even briefly went negative in the middle of the day (see graph below) recently in the middle of the day in Queensland where there is 1.1 gigawatt of solar spread over more than 350,000 buildings.

Australia as a whole has about 3.4GW on 1.2 million buildings! Eventually, coal won’t be able to compete with solar at any price:

let’s imagine that the wholesale price of electricity fell to zero and stayed there, and that the benefits were passed on to consumers. In effect, that coal-fired energy suddenly became free. Could it then compete with rooftop solar?

The answer is no. Just the network charges and the retailer charges alone add up to more than 19c/kWh, according to estimates by the Australian energy market commissioner. According to industry estimates, solar ranges from 12c/kWh to 18c/kWh, depending on solar resources of the area, Those costs are forecast to come down even further, to around 10c/kWh and lower. (source)

The next step will be for people to get some storage and go off the grid to avoid having to pay these network charges. Australian solar installers are already reporting that “between 15 and 20 per cent of solar customers are asking about storage, and that rate is increasing each month.”

With companies like Tesla having ambitious goals to cut battery prices down over the next few years with gigafactories, the combo of cheap solar PV + cheap battery storage will be hard to beat. Dirty power sources will simply stop being competitive. Australia has lots of sun and high network costs, so it’s at the forefront of this movement. But most other countries will follow at their own pace. The best things we can do to accelerate the switch over to clean energy is to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, create regulation that is more friendly to rooftop solar (net-metering, for example), and put a price on carbon emissions.

Queensland’s financial, environmental, and safety danger in allowing uranium mining

July 2, 2014

Queensland lifts its uranium ban, but is the price worth the cost? The Conversation Maxine Newlands Lecturer in Journalism, Researcher in Environmental Politics at James Cook University Liz Tynan Senior Lecturer and Co-ordinator Research Student Academic Support at James Cook University 1 July 14, 

As of today, Queensland has lifted a 32-year ban on uranium mining. That decision was taken within months of the 2012 state election, despite Premier Campbell Newman’s pre-election promise not to restart mining the radioactive mineral.

Miners are being invited to apply to restart the industry under the Queensland’s government’s uranium action plan, which will mean Canadian company Mega Uranium can reopen the Ben Lomond and other mines in north Queensland.

Queensland’s resumption of uranium mining comes only days after Australia’s newest uranium mine, Four Mile in South Australia, officially opened on 25 June.

Yet the price of uranium has fallen from a high in 2007 of US$70 a pound to $US28, due to factors including oversupplyand what the Wall Street Journal has described as a “post-Fukushima funk”.

Given the prices are so low that The Australian has reportedthat Four Mile is already losing money, while the Beverley mine has been mothballed since January, why are Australian states looking to open more mines?………….

Battles ahead over Queensland exports

The highest concentration of Queensland’s uranium mines sit in the northern tropics, an area prone to Category 5 cyclones.

A 2013 Swiss study found uranium was far more mobile than originally thought. Uranium once extracted, becomes soluble in water, increasing the chances of contamination or radioactive dust carried in high winds and heavy rainfall.

If Ben Lomond is reopened, the quickest way to export its uranium would be through the city of Townsville, home to 190,000 people, which is only 50km from the mine.

The Port of Townsville has said it has the capability to “facilitate the transportation and export of yellowcake”. The Queensland’s government’s uranium action plan recommends that:

Queensland’s efforts should be [put] on facilitating the use of existing ports and shipping lanes by industry for the export of uranium.

However, the Port of Townsville sits within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and close to sensitive environments including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, dugong protected areas, seagrass beds, fringing coral reefs and mangrove forests.

Last year, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chairman Russell Reichelt told the ABC that:

I think shipping of any toxic cargo would be of concern. But really we would have to see a proposal and we would have to consider that.

So this is set to be a contentious issue: while economic development of the north has bipartisan support at a federal, state and local government level, a number of locals and environmental groups have said they will challenge any plans to reopen uranium mines and exports from Queensland.

The big question for Queensland residents to consider now is whether the return of uranium mining to the state will be worth the wait for the uranium price to recover, given the risks attached to transporting the mineral through populated and environmentally-sensitive areas.

Climate research – censored by Queensland University?

May 17, 2014
Queensland University tries to block climate research GRAHAM LLOYD THE AUSTRALIAN MAY 17, 2014  THE University of Queensland has threatened legal action to stop the release of data used in a paper that establishes a 97 per cent scientific consensus on ­anthropogenic climate change

The paper, lead authored by John Cook, has been the subject of debate over its methodology since it was published last year…..(subscribers only)

Uranium mining an ill advised investment for Queensland

May 2, 2014

bull-uncertain-uraniumUranium debate heats up in Mount Isa  Queensland labour senator Jan McLucas says the state’s uranium deposits are too small to warrant developing the industry ABC Rural  By Virginia Tapp, 1 May 14

 “These mines at Valhalla and Westmoreland are not huge deposits, they will not employ large numbers of people like Mount Isa, Cloncurry and Century have done.

“These are small mines and I don’t think they are the answer to the question of employment in the Mount Isa region.”…….Senator McLucas also claims there is not enough information about managing uranium mines in areas that experience intermittent periods of very high rain fall and flooding.

She says parts of the abandoned Mary Kathleen uranium mine, situation between Mount Isa and Cloncurry, are still radioactive.


“The residents of Mount Isa are still living with the results of that mine and the inadequate capping of the spoil and the contamination of the land that even graziers today won’t go near.”…….

[Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection joint statement] ……”We are still assessing the condition of the Mary Kathleen site and looking at whether it could be mined again in the future.

“Contamination issues at the site may not have been properly addressed in the past.”…..

Auditor General finds Queensland govt incapable of monitoring mining projects

April 5, 2014

Summary of Auditor-General’s report on mines  SMH, 4 April 14 What was revealed in the Auditor General’s report on the monitoring of Queensland’s resource and waste industries by the Departments of Environment and Heritage Protection and Natural Resources and Mines.


“Poor data and inadequate systems continue to hinder EHP’s planning and risk assessments. As a result, EHP cannot target its monitoring and enforcement efforts to where they are most needed.”

This situation is exacerbated by the lack of coordination and sharing of relevant information across agencies, particularly between EHP and NRM……..

Queensland uranium mining, unhealthy, uneconomic, and brings danger of nuclear waste importing

November 15, 2013

Uranium Mines More Dangerous Than Nuclear Power Confirms Japanese Atomic Expert At Brisbane Forum,32305#.UofD39Jwo7o 16 Nov 13, Fears for worker safety at future uranium mines in Queensland were confirmed by a top Japanese atomic expert at this week’s Australia-Japan Dialogue Forum in Brisbane.

Japan Atomic Energy Commission vice chairman Dr Tatsujiro Suzuki said at the forum “Mining actually poses larger risks than reactors, even when there are not accidents. Uranium miners are regularly exposed, there’s high exposure in areas around mines and the potential for atmospheric contamination.”

Anti-Nuclear Campaign Coordinator, Mark Bailey said Mr Suzuki’s comments showed why uranium mines were not worth the risk in Queensland. ”The Ranger mine in the Northern Territory, in a similar wet season climate as North Queensland, has an appalling safety record with more than 150 documented mishaps including workers drinking and bathing in radioactive water.”

“The latest reported mishap occurred only last week.  The safety of workers and nearby communities cannot be guaranteed by the uranium industry given their very poor record.” Dr Suzuki also confirmed that Japan is set to run out of nuclear waste storage capacity within six years and is looking to sign deals with uranium suppliers who are prepared to help it dispose of radioactive waste. Mr Bailey warned “Once we allow uranium mines in Queensland it is inevitable that nuclear waste storage and nuclear power will soon be on the agenda. Uranium mines are the thin edge of the nuclear wedge in Queensland.” ”Once the nuclear industry has their radioactive foot in Queensland’s door, they will want to move in and take over the whole house.”

“Queensland doesn’t need uranium mining, nuclear waste dumps or nuclear power and we should re-instate the ban on uranium mining promised before the last election before it’s too late,” said Mr Bailey. ”The Newman government has no mandate from the people of Queensland to allow uranium mining as they explicitly ruled it out before the election.”

A Queensland uranium deal with Japan may include taking back radioactive wastes

November 14, 2013

Top Japan nuke expert warns Qld on uranium  7 News,  MARTY SILK -November 13, 2013 Mining uranium is far more dangerous to human health than nuclear power, a top Japanese expert warns. Japan Atomic Energy Commission vice chairman Dr Tatsujiro Suzuki says Queensland’s government must be extremely careful if it allows mining to go ahead.

The state wants to begin assessing uranium mining applications from next year after lifting a longstanding ban.

But Dr Suzuki warns that countries must plan every aspect of uranium mining meticulously. ”Mining actually poses larger risks than reactors, even when there are not accidents,” he told AAP at the Australia-Japan Dialogue in Brisbane on Wednesday.
“Uranium miners are regularly exposed, there’s high exposure in areas around mines and the potential for atmospheric contamination.
“You have to be very, very careful.”

Dr Suzuki says the key issue is how to safely store more than 1300 spent nuclear fuel rods. Japan is set to run out of nuclear waste storage capacity within six years and is looking to sign deals with uranium suppliers who are prepared to help it dispose of radioactive waste.

He added that an independent regulator should also ensure that Queensland uranium exports were only used for peaceful purposes.
Australia signed a deal to export uranium to India last year and Dr Suzuki said it couldn’t be certain that the uranium was only being used for civilian purposes.

India hasn’t signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and access to Australian uranium could help free up its domestic reserves for use in nuclear weapons.

Uranium mining in Queensland – just not an economic proposition

October 30, 2013

Uranium mining start faces hurdles, ABC News  2 Oct 2013, The Australian Uranium Association says it will be some time before uranium mining begins in Queensland……Mr Angwin says low uranium prices are a big deterrent.

“We’ve got low-cost competitors around the world who are doing much better than Australia is at the moment and we’ve got a relatively cumbersome assessment and approval process for environmental issues,” he said.

“So if you put those three issues together and particularly the low price of uranium then it’ll be some time before companies decide the time is right to mine uranium.”

If ever uranium becomes profitable, then Queensland Government likely to ship it though the Great Barrier Reef

September 14, 2013

beautiful-underwater-world-Qld Mines Minister Andrew Cripps says no current plan to ship uranium through Barrier Reef ABC News, By James Kelly, Francis Tapim and Isobel Roe 13 Sep 2013, Queensland’s Mines Minister Andrew Cripps says uranium will not be exported through the Great Barrier Reef any time soon, but will not rule it out down the track. The State Government announced yesterday its action plan to reintroduce uranium mining in Queensland after lifting the ban in October last year…….

Mr Cripps says once mining starts, uranium would be shipped out of existing licensed ports in Adelaide or Darwin.

“Any situation where the commercial volumes of uranium developed in Queensland requiring the licensing of an additional port somewhere in Queensland is many years into the future,” he said.

Reef shipping ‘catastrophe waiting to happen’

Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) spokeswoman Felicity Wishart says shipping uranium through the reef is a catastrophe waiting to happen……

“It only takes one accident from one massive ship to cause major damage to the reef and imagine if that ship was carrying radioactive material.”

She says all Australians and Queenslanders need to “raise their voices” and let Government know the Great Barrier Reef must be protected.

“If we can mobilise the community and get them active, they will send a message to the Queensland Government, to the Australian Government, that the reef must be protected,” she said………

Uranium’s economic benefit questioned

Meanwhile, the Queensland Conservation Council (QCC) says uranium mining will have much less of an economic benefit than the public is led to believe.

QCC spokeswoman Wendy Tubeman says most of the $8 million in profits from uranium buried in north-west Queensland will go overseas.

She says the Government has not considered the environmental and economical impacts.

“The Queensland Government is striding ahead for the sake of striding ahead,” she said.

“It hasn’t really given a great deal of thought to the real costs and the real benefits of uranium mining in Queensland……..