Archive for the ‘business’ 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……


February 11, 2015

SMRs AustraliaWeatherill’s reported comments suggested that small modular reactors may offer an option down the track. At the very least, these are a decade away, most likely more. By that time, in South Australia’s own limited target, the state will be more than 55 per cent renewables, and – according to the network operators – will be looking at renewables-based micro-grids as the most cost-effective option.

It is more likely that Weatherill’s commission may be lookingmoney-in-nuclear--wastes
at whether the state should try and cash in on the nuclear waste management industry, which with the tens of billions of liabilities piling up, could be a lucrative opportunity.


The Sellafield plant in Cumbria will cost £70 billion ($A136 billion) to clean up, according to the UK’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC). These “opportunities” will be repeated hundreds of times as other nuclear plants are retired.

Parkinson-Report-Why nuclear industry needs to be paid $500/MWh By  on 9 February 2015 South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill raised a few eyebrows about his plans, announced this weekend, for a “royal commission” into the nuclear energy industry.

But Weatherill is right about one thing: Nuclear energy, he says, is “not something that would be economically viable in South Australia, or indeed the nation.”

For most people, Weatherill’s comments about the costs of nuclear energy would be a case of stating the bleeding obvious. Not the nuclear fan club, however, who appear completely detached – even from the nuclear industry – on the reality of nuclear’s costs.

A glance at the contract for the Hinkley C nuclear reactor -the first to be built in the UK for a generation – proves otherwise. Even in the UK, with a well established nuclear industry, and all the infrastructure that has been built, it is still expensive. Hinkley C will start with a tariff of £92.5/MWh ($180/MWh) in 2023 before rising nearly three-fold over the following three and a half decades. (more…)

Greedy business people in South Australia sucked in by thought of $billions by importing rdaioactive nuclear trash

February 9, 2015

South Australia takes first step to nuclear power GEORGE LEKAKIS The New Daily, Financial Services Editor 9 Feb 15“……..The setting up of the Royal Commission follows lobbying by prominent South Australian business figures for an independent evaluation of nuclear power and enrichment proposals for the state……..South Australian Nuclear Energy Systems has been discussing its business proposals with Federal and State politicians, with a view to amending laws that ban nuclear power generation.

The Commonwealth Biodiversity Act currently prohibits the deployment of nuclear power stations throughout Australia.Mr Hundertmark told The New Daily last year that the company had identified international capital sources for funding local nuclear projects and had formed connections with global players.
“The funding of the things that need to be done is not a real problem – the problem is to get the legislative changes needed,” he said at the time.

Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman David Sweeney warned that the Royal Commission could merely be a pretext for conditioning South Australians to the prospect of establishing a nuclear waste dump.

“There’s no doubt that a large part of this inquiry is to de-sensitise people to the idea of creating an international radioactive waste dump in the state,” he said.“People need to be wary of the possibility that the inquiry is just a Trojan horse for getting a waste dump built.”

Mr Sweeney said any independent inquiry would find that the economic case for nuclear power did not stack up. “As far as nuclear power is concerned, this is a fanciful exercise because of the outstanding growth of renewable alternatives,” he said.

Mr Weatherill said the government would finalise the terms of reference for the Royal Commission in consultation with experts.

In June last year, The New Daily revealed that a group of high-powered businessmen and scientists led by former News International director Bruce Hundertmark had formed a new company to prepare business proposals for nuclear power stations in South Australia.

Apart from Mr Hundertmark, the board of South Australian Nuclear Energy Systems Pty Ltd, includes Ian Kowalick, the former chief of staff to ex-Liberal premier John Olsen.

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 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.

Nuclear industry now dumps Silex – after Silex had dumped its solar business!

August 2, 2014

Silex tumbles after solar-nuclear switch hits market roadblock, REneweconomy By  on 28 July 2014  Silex Systems decided in June to dump its solar business to focus on nuclear. But now the nuclear industry has dumped Silex.

Less than one month after Australia’s Silex Systems placed its solar technology assets up for sale to focus on uranium enrichments, it has been dealt a massive blow by the suspension of its nuclear ambitions.

In late June, Silex sought to arrest its slumping share price and preserve its cash reserves by deciding to seek buyers and co-investors in its Solar Systems and Transluscent businesses.

CEO Michael Goldsworthy said at the time he wanted to focus on its laser uranium enrichment process, confident that its partnership with GE and Hitachi (GLE) could mean that the world’s first commercial laser enrichment plant could be in operation later this decade.

But those dreams are now on hold – indefinitely – after GLE said it would cease funding laser development projects at Lucas Heights in Sydney and put the main project facility near Oak Ridge in Tennessee in “cold storage”. Most contractor-based work on the project will be suspended, with the project facility near Oak Ridge, Tennessee to be placed in a safe storage mode, and GLE-funded activities at the laser development facility at Lucas Heights, Sydney to cease.

Silex appears to to have been shocked by the announcement, saying it was “unexpected” and GLE had already invested “hundreds of millions of dollars” in the project.

The share slump cames just days after “stock pickers” in Fairfax and News Ltd business pages rated Silex as the “best speculative stock” on the ASX. A day after a Fairfax collumnist called Silex “one of the best intelligent speculations on the ASX, the stock plunged rom 94c to a low of 49c. The stock has fallen from a 2009 high of $7.97 a share, and a year ago it was trading at more than $3.

Those brazen calls – and the optimism of its mostly retail shareholders – were based on the optimistic belief that the nuclear industry is about to rebound. But this is mostly based on hope – and an arrogant distrust of renewables – than any actual evidence.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt, who made the call to bring the research to a halt despite investing hundreds of millions, has said privately that nuclear is “too difficult” . (GE was one of the biggest suppliers of nuclear technology in the world.”

Goldsworthy says it is clear that the global nuclear industry is “still suffering the impacts of the Fukushima event” and the shutdown of the entire Japanese nuclear power plant fleet in 2011.

Demand for uranium has been slower to recover than expected and enrichment services are in significant oversupply, and the market could take “several years” to rebalance………..

Australian media hypes Silex uranium enrichment technology even as it is dumped!

July 31, 2014


GLE suspends Silex laser treatment of uranium as market bites, Matthew Peach
29 Jul 2014
Focus switches to reduced US program after Japanese shutdown narrows market; Silex hopes for resumption when conditions pick up. Silex Systems, an Australian high-tech company developing energy and materials technologies, has announced that the Licensee for Silex’s Uranium Enrichment Technology,GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment, is reducing its funding and commercialisation program of the laser treatment technology in response to “current adverse market conditions” – with the result that related operations in Australia are stopping.
GLE will consolidate its efforts on the technology development activities to its Wilmington facility in North Carolina, USA. The Silex annoncement said, “most contractor-based work on the project will be suspended, with the project facility near Oak Ridge, Tennessee to be placed in a safe storage mode, and GLE-funded activities at the laser development facility at Lucas Heights, Sydney, to cease.”………
Dr Michael Goldsworthy, Silex CEO and Managing Director, said, “the global nuclear industry is still suffering the impacts of the Fukushima event and the shutdown of the entire Japanese nuclear power plant fleet in 2011. Demand for uranium has been slower to recover than expected and enrichment services are in significant oversupply.”……..
Media speculationJust two days before the GLE announcement, Australian daily newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald suggested that “With a share price down 65 per cent in the past year, [Silex] is one of the best intelligent speculations on the ASX (Australian Stock Exchange)”, adding, “The enrichment market is expected to be worth US$10 billion by 2019.”

What’s going on in Australia’s murky world of “clean coal”?

July 20, 2014

Hear-This-wayThe search for the clean coal holy grail The Abbott
government and a group of investors are pinning
their environmental hopes on a clean coal technology that is still in the very early stages of development. Paddy Manning tracks the quest for the clean coal holy grail and investigates the men getting unspeakably rich from the search.

clean coal.psd

The federal government is pinning its hopes of cleaning up Australia’s electricity
sector on a new clean coal technology that is still at the laboratory stage.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has made clear that a key plank of the government’s plan to tackle climate change is reducing emissions from existing black and brown coal-fired power White,-Johnstations……

Ignite Energy Resources, a member of the DICE network, recently recieved a $20 million grant to produce liquid fuel for DICE engines from brown coal, among other things………

photo – Dr John White Executive Director, Ignite Energy Resources

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   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.


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.

You know things are crook when an Australian uranium company switches to property development

June 3, 2014

graph-down-uraniumUnited Uranium Limited moving from resources exploration to property development United Uranium Limited moving from resources exploration to property development June 02, 2014  United Uranium Limited moving from resources exploration to property development

United Uranium Limited (ASX:UUL) is exploring opportunities that will most likely result in a shift away from resources exploration to property development in a bid to increase shareholder value.

This follows completion of a strategic review that identified the unwillingness of the investment community to invest in junior resources companies, particularly those focused on uranium.

It added the early stage status of its projects required significant funding to explore, with no guarantee of commercial success.

These add to the continued depressed uranium prices, and commodities prices in general.

In contrast, it noted that investors were willing to invest in property developments with the sector currently experiencing strong housing demand.

Time that Australia’s uranium industry faced up to its terminal condition

May 29, 2014
Uranium − how low can it go? Business Spectator JIM GREEN , 29 May 14, Australia’s uranium lobby is shameless. Michael Angwin from the (now defunct) Australian Uranium Association claimed that Australia “has enough reserves to be to uranium what Saudi Arabia is to oil”.

Specious comparisons between Australian uranium and Saudi oil have also been made by former South Australia premier Mike Rann, pseudo-academics Ian Plimer and Haydon Manning, Access Economics, and Comrade Paul Howes from the Australian Workers Union.

But Australia’s uranium export revenue in 2011 was 466 times lower than Saudi oil revenue in the same year − Australia would need to supply entire global uranium demand 31 times over to match Saudi oil revenue. The uranium industry accounts for 0.015 per cent of jobs in Australia, and in the 10 years from 2002-11 it accounted for just 0.29 per cent of national export revenue (with most of that revenue never coming anywhere near Australia because of the high level of foreign ownership).

The uranium industry hoped that the post-Fukushima spot price would rebound after it fell to $US50/pound … but then it fell to $US40 … and now it has fallen below $US30.

The uranium spot price fell to $US29/pound U3O8 on May 5 and has not budged since. Not since mid-2005 has the price been so low. The price is less than one-half of the pre-Fukushima price, and less than one-quarter of the price at the peak of the 2007 bubble.Uranium Investing News notes that “the phrase ‘uranium renaissance’ has been uttered so often that it has begun to feel like a bad joke”.


What’s going on?

The uranium lobby has been arguing that plans to begin restarting reactors in Japan later this year (all of Japan’s 48 reactors are currently shut-down in the wake of the Fukushima disaster) will lead to higher uranium prices. But as As FNArena notes, progress towards reactor restarts in Japan “has been glacial and anti-nuclear protest has been powerful”.

Japan’s uranium inventories probably amount to around 100 million pounds (45,400 tonnes) according to David Sadowski, a Raymond James analyst.

Sadowski added that many utilities around the world “are sitting on near-record piles” of uranium. It could take a decade or more before Japanese utilities exhaust existing inventories.

China is buying uranium − but is now sitting on stockpiles sufficient to meet current annual consumption eight times over. The uranium lobby hoped that the December 2013 end of a US-Russian agreement to downblend weapons uranium for use in power reactors would stimulate a price increase. But the spot price has fallen 17 per cent this year alone.

French state-controlled nuclear group Areva’s first-quarter revenue from its uranium mining unitfell 63 per cent. The mining arm of Russia’s state-controlled utility Rosatom has frozen uranium expansion projects in Russia and elsewhere (hence the Honeymoon mine in South Australia has been put into care-and-maintenance). Canadian giant Cameco has abandonedits earlier uranium production growth targets (and scaled back uranium exploration and development work in Australia). In 2012 BHP Billiton cancelled its planned expansion of Olympic Dam in South Australia and disbanded its uranium division. Wannabe uranium miner Marathon Resources gave up on the uranium game last year, stating that the “risks were more likely to exceed rewards”. Energy Resources of Australia is struggling with the political and economic fallout of a December 2013 leach tank collapse at the Ranger mine in the Northern Territory resulting in the spillage of 1.4 million tonnes of radioactive slurry; the collapse of a ventilation shaft a few weeks ago; and the revelations of a whistleblower published in the Mining Australiamagazine on May 5.

Australian-based Paladin Energy operated two mines in Africa but production at one of those mines has been suspended and the company is at risk of going bankrupt. As Paladin Energy chief executive John Borshoff said last July, “the uranium industry is definitely in crisis”.

A nuclear insider’s view

Just about everyone in and around the uranium industry consoles themselves with the thought that uranium prices will have to rebound sooner or later to stimulate new production, which will be required even if global nuclear power capacity continues to stagnate. A contrary view comes from Steve Kidd, an independent consultant and economist with 17 years of work at the World Nuclear Association and its predecessor, the Uranium Institute.

Writing in the Nuclear Engineering International Magazine on May 6, Kidd states that “the case made by the uranium bulls is in reality full of holes” and he predicts “a long period of relatively low prices, in which uranium producers will find it hard to make a living”……