Archive for the ‘URANIUM’ Category

Australia: nuclear law to avoid legal challenges quietly passed by Liberal and Lanor

November 30, 2016

Tweedle-Nuclear

Major parties push a losing uranium sector to India at great risk http://www.smh.com.au/comment/major-parties-push-a-losing-uranium-sector-to-india-at-great-risk-20161128-gszld4.html  Dave Sweeney , 29 Nov 16 

With little fuss or fanfare, Australia’s two major parties have this week agreed to fly under the radioactive radar and pass an innocuous enough sounding law with some very far reaching implications.

The Indian Civil Nuclear Transfers Act exists to provide “certainty to Australian uranium producers” who want to sell the controversial product to India.

In 2015 a detailed investigation by Parliament’s treaties committee found there were serious and unresolved nuclear safety, security and governance issues with the proposed sales plan. It also found a high level of legal uncertainty.

Expert witnesses including Australian National University Professor of International Law Don Rothwell and former senior DFAT officer John Carlson also highlighted that the plan was in conflict with both Australian domestic law and existing international treaty provisions, most notably the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty.

Given the severity of the inconsistencies and the significance of the issues involved, the government-controlled treaties committee took the unusual step of voting against the clear direction of the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister – and the political run of play – and recommended that the Indian sales deal not be advanced unless these outstanding issues were addressed.

This decision was welcomed by many. But not by Julie Bishop. A terse response to a measured and bipartisan report said the government was “satisfied” that steps had been taken to address each condition, and did not agree that exports to India should be deferred.

The commercial interests of an underperforming industrial sector were given priority above parliamentary process and evidence-based, prudent public policy.

But this favouritism was not enough to paper the deep cracks in this dangerous plan, and now the government has moved to rush through the new laws to close the door on legal challenge and scrutiny.

The declared intent of the new law is to protect uranium mining companies in Australia from domestic legal action that challenges the consistency of the safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency in India and Australia’s international non-proliferation obligations. It will also protect any future bilateral trade in other nuclear-related material or items for civil use.

A recent truncated review of the new law said the bill “provides the certainty required to give effect to the Australia-India Agreement”.

So Australian uranium miners, who supplied the product that directly fuelled Fukushima, are now to be legally covered from any challenge over a highly contested plan to sell to India.

This move highlights the extent and the risks of the federal government’s preoccupation with ending civil society access to legal recourse. Further, fast-tracking legal favours to provide industry certainty simply highlights how profoundly uncertain this industry is.

Following Fukushima, the global uranium market has crashed, as has the value of uranium stocks. Uranium operations are on hold; extended care and maintenance are well behind planning schedules, and prices, profits and employment numbers have gone south.

IBIS World’s March 2015 market report said only 987 people are employed in Australia’s uranium industry. Few jobs and dollars, considerable damage at home and escalating risk abroad.

The fragile economics of the uranium sector make it understandable that the industry is pushing for every potential market but fail to explain why our federal government is so intent on trying to pick winners with a sector that is clearly losing. Sadly, and unreasonably, the India uranium deal has become seen as a litmus test for bilateral relations.

Talk of a massive surge in exports is fanciful, and promoting Australian uranium as the answer to Indian energy poverty is more convenient than credible. Political proponents of the trade are driven less by substance than style – the symbolism of Australia and India on the same page and open for business.

In a telling reference, the recent review of the new law highlighted the importance of the “foreign policy backdrop to Australia’s nuclear trade with India”.

Sending political signals through trade is not unusual, but to do so by ignoring substantive warning signals is unwise. When those warnings and that trade relate to nuclear materials, it is deeply irresponsible.

Buttressing flawed trade deals with bolt-on legislative exemptions is poor policy and practice. This law may be civil by name, but it is desperately uncivil in nature.

All trades have trade-offs but this one risks far too much.

Dave Sweeney is a nuclear free campaigner for the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Australian uranium miner with Russian funding, set to increase radioactive pollution in Karoo, South Africa

January 19, 2016

dust from mining

Already today, the environment around Beaufort West is contaminated close to the previous mine sites. First field studies by the author show unprotected nuclear wastes with 10 to 20 times the background radiation.

Dust and Radiation – Two Deadly Impacts…… a particular direct relationship between occupational exposure to uranium and its decay products and lung diseases.Mining uranium ore in the Karoo will invariably create huge plumes of contaminated dust. Dust clouds are unavoidable during drilling, blasting and transporting.

Dust suppression by spraying water is only partially effective and creates new problems with contaminated slimes, adding to the environmental cost of groundwater abstraction

Uranium Mining Threatens the Karoo, Karoo Space, 18 Jan 16  By Dr Stefan Cramer  [Excellent] Images sourced by Dr Stefan Cramer Just as the threat of fracking seemed to recede in the Karoo, the danger of uranium mining has arisen – and it is even more frightening and more likely than shale gas extraction.

The Karoo has long been known to harbour substantial sedimentary uranium deposits. Now an Australian company [Peninsula Energy , through it’s wholly owned subsidiary Tasman Pacific Minerals Limited] with Russian funding is planning to get the radioactive mineral out of the ground on a major scale.

The company has quietly accumulated over 750 000 hectares of Karoo properties and concessions around Beaufort West and plans to set up a large Central Processing Plant just outside that town.

While the nation is still debating the pros and cons of fracking, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as the precursor to mining licences is nearing finalisation. During 2016 the Department of Mineral Resources will make a decision on the industry’s application……….

extensive studies on the risks of uranium mining over many decades are available today….yet so far there is no public debateno strategic assessment process in place in the Karoo.No advocacy groups balance the glossy claims of the industry against sobering experiences on the ground…..

According to its documents, Tasman RSA Mines today controls exclusive prospecting rights over more than 750 000 hectares in a circle of nearly 200 kilometres around Beaufort West.

About 32 000 hectares are directly owned under freehold by the company. Local farmers find it hard to resist purchase offers, as farming in this part of the Karoo is particularly difficult due to low rainfall and poor soils.

Unlike in fracking, farms are permanently damaged by uranium opencast mining………

So far the company has not indicated whether they would use in-situ-leaching’, a particularly dangerous but low-cost method. Here, large quantities of leaching agent are injected underground. The uranium is dissolved and recovered in well fields……

Already today, the environment around Beaufort West is contaminated close to the previous mine sites. First field studies by the author show unprotected nuclear wastes with 10 to 20 times the background radiation.

Dust and Radiation – Two Deadly Impacts

The devastating impacts of uranium mining on people, especially the mine workers, and the environment have been well research and documented. Several studies of large number of cases and with exposure over many years (Wismut AG in the former East Germany, theColorado-Plateau in the USA, and Saskatchewan in Canada, have established  particular direct relationship between occupational exposure to uranium and its decay products and lung diseases.

Mining uranium ore in the Karoo will invariably create huge plumes of contaminated dust. Dust clouds are unavoidable during drilling, blasting and transporting.

Dust suppression by spraying water is only partially effective and creates new problems with contaminated slimes, adding to the environmental cost of groundwater abstraction……..http://karoospace.co.za/uranium-mining-threatens-the-karoo/

 

Want a massive radioactive trash pile? Try BHP’s Olympic Dam uranium mine

November 19, 2015

Map-Aust-Olympic-Dam

Dennis Matthews, 19 Nov 15, In the 1980’s we were repeatedly told not to worry about uranium mining at Roxby, that Roxby was a copper mine and that uranium was incidental. Now we are being told that Roxby has the world’s largest deposit of uranium.

Despite strong public opposition, mining at Roxby got the nod from politicians. Soon radioactive water started leaking through the un-sealed base of the tailings dam, and now BHP is building an ever-expanding man-made stockpile of radioactive waste.

Paul Starick (The Advertiser, 13/11/15) downplays the fact that we have a nuclear reactor, stating that Australia has no nuclear power reactor, a distinction that has little to do with the issue. Using the “nuclear medicine” mantra, Starick downplays the main role of a nuclear waste dump, namely to deal with highly radioactive waste from Australia’s nuclear reactor, which will open the door to international waste.

The small amounts of relatively benign low-level waste being safely stored in institutions around Australia is trivial compared to BHP’s massive stockpiles of waste at Roxby and Australia’s nuclear reactor waste.

Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) advises against uranium sales to India: more security needed

September 9, 2015
India-uranium1India uranium red-light a test for Tony Abbott, SBS News, 8 Sept 15, While Prime Minister Abbott and Foreign Minister Bishop have been strong supporters of selling Australian uranium to India, many others, including key Australian diplomats and insiders, remain far more circumspect. By  Dave Sweeney
  The plan has drawn sustained opposition and concern, most recently from the federal Parliament’s influential Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT), which has unambiguously stated that much more work is required before any Australian uranium makes a passage to India.

The JSCOT report followed a detailed examination and expert testimony and states that while the federal government can ratify the deal it must not advance uranium sales or supply to India before key checks and balances are put into practice and proven to work.

In short, the committee charged with advising the government on Indian uranium sales has reached the unambiguous conclusion that the government can sign but not sell.

The question now is whether the Abbott government will follow due parliamentary process and act in the public interest or will it ignore these concerns and JSCOT’s advice and seek to fast-track the agenda of the under-performing uranium sector?

When Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed a uranium deal with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi in September 2014, he praised India’s “absolutely impeccable non-proliferation record”. Yet India’s record on nuclear proliferation tells another story. India acquired its nuclear arsenal by breaking a promise not to use a Canadian reactor for military purposes. It remains outside the globe’s key non-proliferation frameworks and the region remains on nuclear high alert amid tensions with nuclear rival Pakistan.

Instead of addressing real questions about India’s nuclear weapons program and inadequate nuclear safety standards Mr Abbott resorted to cricketing clichés, declaring that Australia and India trust each other on issues like uranium safeguards because of “the fundamentally ethical principle that every cricketer is supposed to assimilate – play by the rules and accept the umpire’s decision”.

The JSCOT process received strongly critical submissions from a who’s who of nuclear arms control diplomats and experts including John Carlson (former long serving Director-General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office from 1989 to 2010), Ron Walker (former Chair of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Prof. Lawrence Scheinman (former Assistant Director of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency). These are veteran players in global nuclear diplomatic and regulatory regimes, not anti-nuclear activists.

Nuclear arms control expert Crispin Rovere noted that “this treaty appears less like the deepening of a bilateral partnership and more like one of a client state being dictated to in an expanded Indian empire. It is a major display of weakness on the part of the Australian Government, and a failure to stand up for Australia’s national interests in this area”.

8 SEP 201…….As it currently stands, the government has inked an agreement that puts absolutely no constraints on India’s nuclear weapons program, fails to advance non-proliferation outcomes and doesn’t even provide effective scrutiny of Australian uranium.

One thing we can all agree on is that Australia has a key role to play in supporting India’s legitimate energy aspirations, but this cannot be advanced by a retreat from responsibility on nuclear safeguards and security. The government must read and heed the JSCOT report and Australia’s uranium must remain away from India’s nuclear reactors and weapons – to do otherwise would be profoundly irresponsible.

JSCOT has just clean bowled this dangerous and deeply deficient sales plan. Mr Abbott must now heed his own words, “accept the umpire’s decision” and start the long walk back to pavilion for a serious re-think. http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/09/08/comment-india-uranium-red-light-test-tony-abbott

Australia’s uranium mining companies leave a toxic trail in Africa

July 12, 2015

[Paladin’s] Langer Heinrich Uranium mine[Namibia] … 

Craton Mining and Exploration [copper] is a subsidiary of Australian-based International Base Metals…..

Rio Tinto owns Rössing Uranium Mine…

[Australian] Deep Yellow Limited (DYL)  the Aussinanis uranium project.

Aussies in toxic trail By Shinovene Immanuel, Ndanki Kahiurika 10 July 15  http://www.namibian.com.na/indexx.php?id=28936&page_type=story_detail&category_id=1#sthash.TJSxEgQV.P3bN2nwk.uxfs&st_refDomain=blogs.icerocket.com&st_refQuery=/search?tab=buzz&fr=h&q=uranium+Australia      NAMIBIA, a mining frontier for decades, continues to struggle with mining companies which subject workers to dangerous working conditions.

Among the alleged culprits are Australian multinationals. Well-established Australian companies face allegations of treating Namibian workers differently by subjecting workers to health risks which would be deemed unacceptable back home.An International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ (ICIJ) investigation, in collaboration with The Namibian, found that Australian mining companies have been implicated in instances of death, disfigurement, and the displacement of people across Africa. They have also been responsible for environmental destruction.That mining in Africa provokes controversy, even violence, is not new. Chinese companies receive regular criticism. Canada, too, has been forced to confront allegations of violence and even slavery linked to its mining companies.

The ICIJ investigation looked at Australia’s increasing role in exploring and developing mining projects on the African continent because it has been less examined.

TROUBLING

What ICIJ uncovered and pieced together suggests a troubling track record on the part of Australian companies in the rush for Africa’s minerals, including practices that would be impermissible, even unthinkable, in Australia and other parts of the developed world. 

ICIJ found that, at the end of 2014, there were more than 150 Australian-listed active mining companies with recorded properties in Africa. Other estimates, using different criteria, put the number even higher.

Australian companies have 49 mining licences in Namibia; two of those companies are operational.

Even though Australian firms run successful mining companies which contribute to Namibia’s economy and workplace conditions have improved compared to two decades ago, there are still questions about the safety of workers.

Thousands of people, including village chiefs, former employees, human rights defenders and government agencies across Africa have taken Australian companies, their subsidiaries and their contractors to court for alleged negligence, unfair dismissal and eviction or pollution, according to court submissions and judgements unearthed from more than a dozen countries.

LANGER HEINRICH

Examples include Langer Heinrich Uranium mine, which was investigated in 2013 after a leading trade union, the Mine Workers Union (MUN), called for a probe into claims that pregnant employees were required to work in radiation-exposed areas.

The Langer Heinrich is owned by Paladin Energy. The Chinese state-owned nuclear firm bought shares in the company last year.

Workers’ concerns centre on the safety and health of expectant mothers and the conditions under which they work. According to them, there were cases of women going into premature labour, pregnant mothers having to travel long distances, as well as the alleged disregard of orders issued by doctors.

Even though the medical records of three women who lost unborn babies concluded that two were abortions, a recent report by the office of the Prime Minister also pointed fingers at the Australian mine.

The Prime Minister’s report, obtained last month, said there is a lack of safety at Langer Heinrich and that the workers are not aware of policies, rules and procedures as outlined in the radiation management plan.

It was also found that the company has been tardy when it comes to submitting reports to government. The 2011 annual report was submitted only in April 2013 and the 2012 exposure result provided in July 2013.

The 2011 dose results reviewed by the investigators found some discrepancies that needed to be explained.

“By implication, if it becomes known that a female worker is expecting, the working conditions must be adapted to avoid occupational exposure to ensure that the annual dose remains below ,” said the report.

The report also said that there is minimal information exchange with the workers and their representatives.

According to the investigators, the mine should have a radiation safety officer and assistant dedicated to radiation-related work only. They should be assisted by an appropriate number of assistants based on the work load and the extent of the activities related to radiation safety.

“This is a matter of concern which must be addressed with urgency,” the report said.

Spokesperson of the company Ratonda Katjivikua said the alleged “lack of safety culture” cited in the report mainly related to policies, rules and procedures concerning radiation management, while the section on general safety makes it clear that safety should be the concern of all involved – individual employees, their immediate supervisors, the company, trade unions and indeed the regulatory authorities.She said LHU started a voluntary onsite pregnancy testing programme.LHU said a radiation monitoring programme has been operating for some time to determine radiation characteristics around the mine site.

“This monitoring programme also generates data for the annual radiation report, enabling LHU to meet its reporting obligations in a timely manner,” she said.

CRATON MINING
Exploration company Craton Mining and Exploration is a subsidiary of Australian-based International Base Metals. Last year, Craton received a 20-year mining licence to explore the proposed Mitiomire copper mine 140km north-east of Namibia’s capital city Windhoek.

Daily newspaper Namibian Sun reported in 2013 that farmers living close to the mine accused the company of not consulting them over the environmental risks of the project.

Craton Mining’s country representative Karl Hartmann said they held public meetings about the project at which farmers made suggestions on mitigating the social and environmental impacts to their community.

“These suggestions have been considered and many of these have been incorporated into the development and planning of the project as well as the updated social and environmental impact assessment,” he said.

Hartmann said the proposed mining methods have a relatively low impact on the environment and, together with mitigating measures, the aim is to minimise the effect on the daily lives of the local community.

RÖSSING

Rio Tinto owns Rössing Uranium Mine. An investigation found that some employees who worked at Rössing in the 1970s are dying of cancer.

This is included in a report released last year by Earthlife Namibia and the Labour Resource and Research Institute (LaRRi). It said ex-Rössing miners who dug uranium ore to supply raw material for bombs and civil nuclear power to the British and US military in the 1970s are reported to be dying of cancer and unexplained illnesses.

“These workers started working in the mine in the 70s and early 80s when safety conditions were non-existent or very poor,” the report said. The researchers recommended a large-scale epidemiology study by independent medical experts to examine workers who started working in the 1970s or early 1980s.

The Namibian government holds a 3% stake in the mine, which produces around 7% of the world’s uranium. The Iranian government has a 15% shareholding.

A year after that report, Earthlife Namibia said Rössing had not allowed them to inspect the mine as requested. “We tried a couple of times but they did not want,” said Bertchen Kohrs, the director of Earthlife Namibia. Instead, they were referred to another ministry for an environmental assessment of the mine, she said.

Rössing managing director Werner Duvenhage said they commissioned a study to understand the potential impact, if any, of occupational radiation exposure at the mine on workers’ health by using their medical and radiation exposure records that date back to when mining operations began.

“The process of identifying a suitable external service provider with the required credentials for the execution of the study started early this year and the University of Manchester has been identified as the provider to conduct this epidemiological study which is expected to be completed in 2016,” he said.

Duvenhage said safety remains their priority.

“Our goal remains zero harm- the solid establishment and maintenance of an illness and injury-free workplace, where everyone goes home safely each day,” he said.

NOMADS THREATENED

Australian company Deep Yellow Limited (DYL) has been in the news for environment – related concerns in their development of the Aussinanis uranium project.

The deposit is about five kilometres from the Gobabeb research centre, and about one kilometre from the Topnaar village. The Topnaars, located on the fringes of the Namib Desert, are one of the oldest Namibian tribes. The area also accommodates a research and conservation centre, Gobabeb.

Environmentalists fear that constructing a mine in the area will affect the centre as well as conservation in the Namib Naukluft Park – the largest nature reserve in Namibia, spanning an area larger than Switzerland.

Since 1997 Gobabeb has been a regional centre of promoting management of natural resources in arid environments.

DYL’s operations in Namibia are run by a subsidiary, Reptile Uranium Namibia. Its country manager, Peter Christian, insisted that any possible future mine development at Aussinanis will have to undergo environmental scrutiny.

He said the community was consulted prior to exploration. “Relations with both Gobabeb and the Topnaar community remains amiable and transparent,” he said.

NUMBERS

According to accessible records, more than 380 people have died in on-site accidents or off-site skirmishes linked to Australian Securities Exchange-listed mining companies since the beginning of 2004.

ICIJ included people killed away from mine sites in incidents, protests and military interventions linked to these companies, even in cases where companies deny liability.

“Mining is a risky and dangerous business, but in Australia we have the protection of trade unions and robust laws to prevent the risk of fatalities, violence and conflict,” says Serena Lilywhite, mining advocacy coordinator at Oxfam Australia. “This is not the case in many African countries.”

Exact comparisons are difficult. Factors such as the type of mineral produced and the level of mechanisation in different countries influence fatality numbers.

The mining industry has treated the continents very differently. Starting salaries for Australian mine workers is around US$60 000 (N$750 000), while the median minimum mining wage in South Africa, the best-paid jurisdiction on the continent, is about US$5 500 (N$68 000).
This story is part of the series by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The article is also supported by African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting. – See more at:http://www.namibian.com.na/indexx.php?id=28936&page_type=story_detail&category_id=1#sthash.TJSxEgQV.P3bN2nwk.uxfs&st_refDomain=blogs.icerocket.com&st_refQuery=/search?tab=buzz&fr=h&q=uranium+Australia

Many decades to cleanup Ranger uranium mine. Taxpayers to cop these costs?

July 1, 2015

as Ranger was authorised by the Commonwealth Government under 1953 Atomic Energy Act which primarily allowed the uranium to be used for military purposes, the Commonwealth and, ultimately the taxpayers, could be liable for the clean up if ERA was bankrupted.

Ranger-pitERA faces closure after uranium miner’s expansion plans shelved by Rio Tinto, ABC News, 30 June 15  By business reporter Stephen Letts Sorry history, uncertain environmental legacy Apart from the discharge of a million litres of radioactive slurry in 2013, Ranger has a sorry history of accidents with more than 200 environmental incidents being reported to government agencies since 1979.

Just how much Ranger’s clean-up will cost is open to question. Under existing legislation, once the lease expires early in 2021, ERA has five years to complete the rehabilitation program.

Gavin Mudd, a senior lecturer in environmental engineering at Monash University with a long standing interest in Ranger, argues there are problems calculating the final cost as it depends on a number of choices, including how long is an adequate period of monitoring radioactivity levels.

The level of radioactivity around the site is unlikely to be safe any time soon given the half-life of uranium-238 is 4.5 billion years. The half-lives of other principal radioactive components of mill tailings, thorium-230 and radium-226, are shorter at about 75,000 years and 1,600 years respectively, but it’s a rather academic distinction.

Currently there is not a stipulated period for monitoring levels of radiation at the site once the rehabilitation is completed. However, Dr Mudd said a monitoring program should be run over decades rather than years.

“Fifty years would be a good start,” he said.

“The $500 million is the basic truck and shovel number, just the earthworks part of the rehabilitation.

“Sufficient money needs to be put in a fund that will pay for on-going monitoring and I haven’t seen that done yet.”

That leaves a big question mark over what will happen if ERA runs out of cash according to Dr Mudd.

“If ERA ran out of money before the rehab was finished and went bankrupt, who picks ups the tab?” he asked. Dr Mudd argues that the existing rehabilitation fund has always been a small fraction of the total cost, because ERA maintained it was a profitable company and could cover the costs.

The mounting losses and depressed prices bring that argument into question.

Dr Mudd said, as Ranger was authorised by the Commonwealth Government under 1953 Atomic Energy Act which primarily allowed the uranium to be used for military purposes, the Commonwealth and, ultimately the taxpayers, could be liable for the clean up if ERA was bankrupted.

“A lot of the day-to-day regulatory stuff is handled by the

Northern Territory Government, so it’s difficult to say where the liability lies (if ERA was bankrupt),” Dr Mudd noted.

“I’d much rather have cash in a trust to cover it, rather than have taxpayers potentially foot the bill,” he said.

If there has been one constant at Ranger, Dr Mudd said it has been that ERA has failed to invest in good processes as decisions were constantly delayed “waiting for the next big thing”.

“A new water treatment plant would have only cost $10 to 15 million back in 2002,” Dr Mudd said.

“The cost of mine closures, clean-ups and retrofitting other technology since then is probably more than a billion dollars.”

“Mining stopped in Pit 1 back in 1994, but has only now been finally closed, about two decades later.”

Traditional owners demand ‘comprehensive clean up plan’

The traditional owners – the Mirrar people – are reluctant to discuss Ranger’s closure, apart from issuing a statement welcoming the decision.

“As things stand today we will not support any extended term of mining at Ranger beyond 2021,” the statement said.

“We take this position because of our experience of 30 years of environmental and cultural impacts at Ranger.

“We need to see a concrete and comprehensive commitment and plan for the clean up of Kakadu; that commitment and planning needs to start today.”……..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-30/era-faces-closure-after-expansion-plans-shelved/6584040

Australia’s uranium deal with India will upset stability of the South Asian region.

August 22, 2014

Seen from the perspective of adherence to non-proliferation norms and commitments If Australia exports uranium to India, Australia would violate its obligations of the Treaty of Rarotonga, which binds it from not indulging in such trade. Article 4 of the Rarotonga Treaty requires India to comply with safeguards requirements of Article III(1) of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Article III(1) of the NPT is about reaching a comprehensive safeguards agreement with IAEA. Instead, India has only acknowledged safeguards on certain foreign-supplied reactors and facilities. India’s safeguards agreement is based upon the IAEA’s ‘facility specific’ safeguards.

Australian uranium sale to India will be subjected to weak monitoring safeguards or ‘facility specific’ of IAEA, contrary to nuclear deals Australia has with other countries

AUSTRALIAN PROSPECTIVE NUCLEAR TRADE WITH INDIA – THE CONTROVERSYhttp://www.eurasiareview.com/21082014-australian-prospective-nuclear-trade-india-controversy/AUGUST 21, 2014   BY 

 Australia is expected to sign a civil nuclear agreement with India during the visit of Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott early next month. Negotiations have been concluded to smooth the path for uranium imports from Australia. The news came out when hundreds of thousands of Indian men and women have protested against the expanding nuclear industry.

These protests have been a regular feature in Koodankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra) and Gorakhpur (Haryana) and at least five activists have lost their lives since 2010 in their struggle against the Indian government’s decision without taking the affected parties on board. Radioactive waste from uranium mining in the country’s east is reportedly affecting adjacent communities. Thousands of Indians suffer from the effects of uranium mining as related to poor technical and management practices.

Australia controls the planet’s largest known uranium reserves. Uranium is a controversial and debatable subject in Canberra, because it can be used both for civil and military purposes. Australia had previously cancelled plans to sell uranium to India as it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but it was Indo- US nuclear deal which paved the way for the ban’s lifting.

The move of lifting the ban came despite a parliamentary report on nuclear safety regulation in India had emphasized grave nuclear safety concerns and organizational flaws comparable international norms. India’s auditor general in this report has designated the country’s nuclear industry as insecure, disordered and in many cases, unregulated. The report underlined the fact that there is no national policy on nuclear and radiation safety after almost 30 years and is not much ardent to adopt world standards and best practices.

It is an unpredictable and unjustified security situation into which Australia is selling uranium. Australian government’s idea to sell uranium to India was strongly criticized by the Australians but the government seems inclined to disregard it. Analysts in Australia are opposing the Uranium sale without preconditions and any meaningful concessions from India, like Indian ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and stopping the production of nuclear bomb making material.

Seen from the perspective of adherence to non-proliferation norms and commitments If Australia exports uranium to India, Australia would violate its obligations of the Treaty of Rarotonga, which binds it from not indulging in such trade. Article 4 of the Rarotonga Treaty requires India to comply with safeguards requirements of Article III(1) of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Article III(1) of the NPT is about reaching a comprehensive safeguards agreement with IAEA. Instead, India has only acknowledged safeguards on certain foreign-supplied reactors and facilities. India’s safeguards agreement is based upon the IAEA’s ‘facility specific’ safeguards.

Australian uranium sale to India will be subjected to weak monitoring safeguards or ‘facility specific’ of IAEA, contrary to nuclear deals Australia has with other countries.Andrew Davies from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute highlighted IAEA’s inability to screen exactly where uranium sent to India from Australia if comprehensive monitoring safeguards are not applied. “For example, if 100 tones go into a civilian nuclear program and 90 tons of products come out, they don’t know where the missing product was diverted from,” he convincingly argues.

A defense research group, IHS Jane’s has revealed that India is increasing its uranium facility that could support the expansion of nuclear weapons. India is trying to buy foreign sources of uranium so she can use its domestic reserves for a nuclear arms race with Pakistan. India is expanding its nuclear power programme to use its own uranium for the production of more nuclear weapons. Adding Australian uranium into India’s energy mix would have serious fall outs on prevailing strained relations between India and its nuclear-armed neighbors. Can Australia trust India to not use Australian uranium for weapons manufacture?

Non-proliferation is a top agenda item when it comes to Pakistan, Iran or North Korea, but it is an inoperable standard when it is India or Israel. The commencement of nuclear trade with India – first by Washington in 2008 and currently by Canberra – has immense repercussions. It will profoundly upset the proliferation equation for other countries in the region. India-Australia nuclear deal will aggravate India-Pakistan nuclear rivalry and exacerbate Pakistan’s security dilemma. Both countries have nuclear weapons, so this commitment by Aussies will no doubt intensify the India-Pakistan tensions. Nuclear trade with India will profoundly upset strategic stability of the South Asian region.

Australia breaching international agreements in uranium deal with India?

August 19, 2014

India-uranium119 Aug 14  News that Australian officials have concluded a deal to sell uranium to India raises concerns the federal government may have violated its international nuclear non-proliferation obligations, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.

“India’s nuclear industry has many continuing and unresolved safety and security problems,” said ACF’s nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney.

“In 2012 the Indian Auditor General released a damning report warning of ‘a Fukushima or Chernobyl-like disaster if the nuclear safety issue is not addressed’.

“ACF is concerned a uranium export deal with India would violate the 1995 nuclear non-proliferation (NPT) Review and Extension Conference commitment to require full-scope safeguards as a condition of supply, and Article IV of the Treaty of Rarotonga – the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty – which obliges signatories to not supply equipment or material to countries not under full scope safeguards.  India is not under full scope safeguards.”

The former head of the national security advisory board in India, K. Subrahmanyam, said in 2005: ‘Given India’s uranium ore crunch and the need to build up our … nuclear deterrent arsenal as fast as possible, it is to India’s advantage to categorise as many power reactors as possible as civilian ones to be refuelled by imported uranium and conserve our native uranium fuel for weapons-grade plutonium production’.

“Clearly, Australian uranium would boost India’s nuclear weapons capacity,” Dave Sweeney said.

“Australian uranium in India will free up India’s uranium stockpiles to be used in its nuclear weapons program.

“Australian uranium is definitely fuelling radioactive waste and risk.  It is also potentially fuelling the spread of nuclear weapons.  Neither is desirable or acceptable.

“Before PM Tony Abbott inks a deal with New Delhi, the federal government must show that any bilateral agreement requires India to take measureable disarmament actions and does not breach international agreements to which Australia is a party.” For context and comment contact: Dave Sweeney, 0408 317 812

 

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

July 31, 2014

news-nuke

GLE suspends Silex laser treatment of uranium as market bites, Optics.org 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.”http://optics.org/news/5/7/48

Rio Tinto won’t bail out ERA’s Ranger uranium financial mess?

April 16, 2014

Ranger-uranium-mineRio chief tight-lipped on Ranger mine, SMH April 16, 2014 – Peter Ker Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh has refused to guarantee that his company will cover the cost of rehabilitating the Ranger uranium mine near Kakadu, building on uncertainty that was created last month by the Rio subsidiary in charge of the mine.

Energy Resources of Australia – which is 68 per cent owned by Rio – raised eyebrows when it revealed it may need to find new sources of money to meet its rehabilitation commitments for Ranger, which is entirely surrounded by Kakadu National Park.

Under the Ranger permit, ERA must have rehabilitated the site by 2026, and a review of the rehabilitation strategy in 2013 found the cost would be $603 million on a net present cost basis. ERA has $357 million on hand and has ceased mining at Ranger, with the company now exploring for more uranium underground in a bid to find future revenue streams.

In an unusual move, ERA appeared to link the success of that exploration project – known as Ranger 3 Deeps – to its ability to pay for the rehabilitation of the site. “If the Ranger 3 Deeps mine is not developed, in the absence of any other successful development, ERA may require an additional source of funding to fully fund the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area,” the company said in its annual report.Such an outcome would be unusual, as miners are typically compelled to pay for the rehabilitation at the end of a mine’s life through provisions that are made each year.

In ERA’s case, some rehabilitation is already underway and it maintains a trust with the Australian Government which was holding $63.9 million at December 31.

When asked at Tuesday night’s annual meeting of Rio shareholders in London, Mr Walsh indicated he was in no mood to pick up the tab for ERA, particularly after Rio took part in a $500 million equity raising for the company in 2011. “There was a rights issue at ERA to fund the rehabilitation work and those funds are still sitting within that business,” said Mr Walsh.

”(ERA) is a public Australian company and clearly that is an issue for them.

“We are clearly shareholders, but it’s a matter for all shareholders and a matter for the ERA board.”

Environmental sensitivities of another kind were also raised at the AGM, with Rio executives forced to defend the company’s continued involvement in coal mining.

Mr Walsh said Rio did accept that “man made emissions” were responsible for changes in the climate, but the company believed the challenge could be resolved through technological developments rather than by ceasing coal production………

Rio’s Australian AGM will take place on May 8. http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/rio-chief-tightlipped-on-ranger-mine-20140416-36qfi.htmlSMH