Archive for the ‘URANIUM’ Category

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      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.


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.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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:


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.”……..

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


 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


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.”

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. 

Polluting, premature, and under investigation – Western Australia’s Toro uranium mining projects

April 15, 2014

Toro uranium expansion plan: premature and polluting    | April 7, 2014 Western Australia’s peak environmental group has condemned a move by uranium mining hopeful Toro Energy to expand their unrealised Wiluna mine plan into a much larger uranium mining precinct spanning 100km and two ecologically sensitive lake systems in the East Murchison region.

The state EPA has released details of the expansion plan while the company is under investigation by the Australian Securities Exchange for a second time over claims they have released misleading information to shareholders and the market. (See background below).

“Toro have never successfully mined anything before and have a long way to go to get their original single-mine project approved – let alone any new expansion,” said CCWA Nuclear Free campaigner, Mia Pepper.

“Contrary to their statements to shareholders, the company needs to complete additional environmental management , mine closure, tailings management and transport plans for assessment before any mining can commence at the Wiluna site.”

The company has struggled to find investors and currently needs $300 million in start-up costs and a further $300 million in upfront bonds.

“This new plan to attract investors is likely to draw further scrutiny from both regulators and the wider community who will be looking at the cumulative impacts of a regional uranium precinct covering 100km and two arid zone Lake Systems.”

“Toro plans to double its water consumption and store radioactive mine waste from several mine sites in a Lake bed. This idea lacks credibility and the company lacks capacity, experience and financial backing.”

Toro’s new plan involves four deposits over one hundred kilometres – Lake Way, Centipede, Millipede and Lake Maitland, with the company’s long term plans including mining an additional three deposits Nowthanna, Dawson Hinkler and Firestrike – covering a hundred kilometres in the other direction.

Also in the region is WA’s largest uranium deposit – Yeelirrie, which is now owned by Cameco. Traditional Owners have consistently opposed this project for forty years.

CCWA is partnering with a range of public health, union and faith groups to call for a public inquiry into the Toro mine plan.

ASX investigation

The Mineral Policy Institute and the Conservation Council of WA received formal notification that the Australian Securities Exchange is investigating Toro Energy for the second time over the release of potentially misleading information.

On Friday 21st February 2014 Toro energy released an ASX announcement about the referral of two newly acquired uranium deposits to the West Australian EPA, stating:

“Toro already has the necessary approvals from both the Western Australian and Federal Governments to establish a processing facility at Centipede and commence mining Wiluna’s Centipede and Lake Way deposits.”- Toro ASX release.

Whilst Toro would dearly love this to be the case, it simply is not. As part of the 35 conditions made on the federal environmental approval for the Wiluna uranium project Toro must submit a complete Environmental Management Plan which includes management plans for groundwater, surface water, mine closure, rehabilitation, Aboriginal heritage and more. These must be submitted to and approved by the Federal Environment Minister before any works, land clearing or construction can begin at the site.

The conditional approval granted in April, 2013 by then federal environment Minister Tony Burke   explicitly states that until these management plans are submitted, assessed and approved by the Federal Minister Toro cannot carry out any “preparatory works undertaken as part of the action including clearing of vegetation and use of heavy equipment for breaking ground for mining and infrastructure”.

This conditional federal environmental approval explicitly precludes Toro from doing any preparatory works let alone permitting it to ‘establish a processing facility’ or ‘commence mining.’

EPA review

On the 24th of February Toro Energy referred two additional deposits as an extension to the Wiluna uranium proposal. The deposits are known as Millipede and Lake Maitland.

The new proposal includes plans to mine uranium ore from Lake Maitland and Millipede and to process and store the radioactive mine waste in the Lake bed of Lake Way.

On 25th March 2014 the WA EPA made the Toro Wiluna uranium expansion project open for public review. This comment period is happening whilst the project proponent is the subject of an active ASX investigation.

Wiluna community response

The Central Desert Native Title service released a statement on the Wiluna Martu response to the uranium project. It is interesting to note some comments within the release:

“The Wiluna Martu People’s previous experience with uranium exploration in the Wiluna region has left them with serious and genuine concerns about the health effects of radiation. It also raised questions for the about the government’s capacity to properly regulate uranium exploration and mining on their traditional lands.”

“The issue of uranium mining is not something that Martu have invited. Rather under the current policy and state regulatory environment it is something they are forced to confront in order to ensure that their traditional lands and their people are sufficiently recognised and protected.”

The statement goes on to say:

“The Senior Lawmen acknowledge that there are divergent views about uranium mining within the wider Martu community and these divergent views have to be accommodated in this negotiation.”

Toro is experiencing significant and sustained financial and capacity constraints in relation to the Wiluna project and it is welcome that the company’s public representation of its project approval status is again the focus of public, market and regulatory scrutiny and attention.

To save our failing uranium industry – let’s Australia become the world’s radioactive trash toilet

September 23, 2013

Call to store nuclear waste to sustain uranium industry CLAIRE STEWART, 22 Sept 13 Australia will need to start enriching uranium and storing the nuclear waste if it is going to sustain a competitive ­uranium industry in the future, says senior finance and resources figure Mark Johnson.

Mr Johnson, a former deputy chair of Macquarie Bank and former chairman of AGL, said Australia had a “great opportunity” to become a participant in a “free world nuclear fuel cycle”, if it produces uranium. “But the consequence of that is we would also have to store spent uranium,” he told Financial Review Sunday.
Federal government laws explicitly prohibit the building of nuclear fab­rication, enrichment or power plants and the return of nuclear waste to ­Australia for storage. “Nobody wants spent nuclear fuel in their backyard, even if it would be right in the centre of the outback of Australia, [with] very stable geological conditions,” Mr Johnson said.

The price of uranium has halved since governments around the world promised to cut their reliance on nuclear power following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Energy Resources Australia chief executive Rob Atkinson said the market will turn, particularly given expected demand from China.

For other democracies, nuclear power is “off the table for generations”, Mr Johnson said, prompting sug­gestions that enrichment and storage of waste will be a key part of expanding the industry. Australia currently processes uranium to the “yellow cake” stage, which is then exported for further processing and concentration, and in some cases turned into fuel rods.

Uranium as a fuel source can only be used for about three years before it becomes too unstable, said Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear ­campaigner Dave Sweeny. He said making Australia part of the global fuel cycle was about opening the country up for return of that spent material. “Industry returns are meagre and the risks are significant and continuing,” he said. “Storage is the Achilles heel . . . it highlights the political, social and technical difficulty of doing this.”

South Australia’s greedy push for uranium enrichment, for money from nuclear weapons industry

August 30, 2013

The issue isn’t nuclear power.  The issue is processing uranium for nuclear power that then can be used for defence 

You have to understand this in terms of  in terms of Adelaide, -it’s a military industrial intelligence complex 

Simons is connected to the University College of London  but basically he’s a front man for business interests,    We can clearly question what he is doing given the fact that he’s getting funding from indirect corporate sources.


AUDIO:   Nuclear Power in South Australia – a golden age? Radio Adelaide 23 Aug 13     Chris Komorek spoke with Dr David Palmer from Flinders University to explore the changing landscape. Produced by Ian Newton. TRANSCRIPT by Christina Macpherson 

Chris Komorek  As the uranium debate heats up, so does the destroyed reactor in Fukushima, Japan.The International Energy Policy Institute at the University College London’s Adelaide campus is advocating a ramped up nuclear industry here in South Australia. We’re joined by Dr David Palmer from Flinders University.

 Q. What level of support is there in industry and science for an expanded nuclear industry in South Australia?
 Dr David Palmer First of all you have to put this in context  The interviews you’ve had on Radio Adelaide over the last 2 days have really been interesting. Helen Caldicott’s question about  what motivates these people. She couldn’t quite get her head around that
  I think that actually Prof Simons has answered that. However did not give his real answer on your program
Just to put it in context. Just a few minutes ago, Japan Times released a new story that is quite shocking.It’s Fukushima again –  Their top story of the day “Rate of radioactive flow to Pacific  alarming”. Fukushima No1 leaks estimated at 30 trillion becquerels  since May 2011. What this means is that the rate of release estimated since May 2011 is 100 times more than what TEPCO has been saying.
The other thing is – This is just Fukushima
The Japan Times headline story that ran previously is about the coming earthquake that will hit Tokyo. They estimate that 10,000 people will die from that earthquake which will probably hit under Yokohama.  7 million people will be homeless. Roughly 1.2 $billion will be lost in terms of damage.
There is a nuclear power plant called Homolka halfway between Mt Fuji and Tokyo and that’s right on the coast. That will probably be hit as well. You’re talking about a nuclear disaster South of Tokyo They also think this earthquake could hit at any moment. it’s 90 years overdue.- Mt Fuji potentially could erupt. It’s interesting that Prof S said nothing about the extreme dangers  now hitting Japan almost daily.
Q. I will ask you again. What level of support is there in industry and science for an expanded nuclear  industry in South Australia?
Dr Palmer: In South Australia it’s interesting  and here we get into the argument by  Prof Simons.  There’s a  certain sector of corporate world in Australia, but particularly in our area, that is very supportive of this. You have to look at the rationale that Simons gave in his talk when speaking with the Liberal Opposition Minister. What he said is: Governments throughout the world are trying to balance the trilemma of providing their nations with – and this is his argument for nuclear energy . It’s not about climate change No. 1. It’s about:
1 securing energy supply
2 maintaining economic growth
3 impact on climate change and reducing carbon emissions
So the Issue is security of energy supply If you look at who is supporting this initiative  it’s BHP  Billiton that would probably like to get Olympic Dam operation  going again, once the Coalition gets in to the federal government. It’s all of these  defence contractors up in Edinburgh area, and also the submarine corporation. Simons is one of the main  proponents of a  nuclear powered submarine being built here in Adelaide
The  door will then be open for Adelaide will then be a port for nuclear powered naval  vessels.
Q. Would Australia be going against the world trend if we went down the path of nuclear power? 
Dr Palmer: No, because The issue isn’t nuclear power.  The issue is processing uranium for nuclear power that then can be used for defence That is the key thing. It’s not about somehow cheap energy.  It’s about securing energy supply.  Simons himself said SA has about 30+% of world’s uranium  This is one of the most strategic places in the world for those involved in military operations. Now they’re ramping this up so they have  an entire industrial complex
 You have to understand this in terms of  in terms of Adelaide, -it’s a military industrial intelligence complex Simons is connected to the University College of London  but basically he’s a front man for business interests, that’s just my opinion. We can clearly question what he is doing given the fact that he’s getting funding from indirect corporate sources.

The reality is that Universities play a major part in assisting business in defence contracts. That’s really what it’s about. it’s not just about cheap energy or climate change

Q. If Australia increases exports, and begins enrichment could we see Australia  become an international depository for depleted uranium?

Dr Palmer. Yes I think that  that’s already happening.  That’s my guess. I don’t have the proof of that.

It’s not just about building nuclear power plants and making the world  a better place. What Simons says basically is that you have a choice  nuclear power or coal.  Caldicott was absolutely right, by saying that’s ridiculous  We have all of these other non carbon based energy sources. In fact  a very substantial part of SA’s power is now wind derived

You have to look at other reasons for this .   The other thing is If you look at – Why would someone from London from University College be in Adelaide?  and the fact is that in terms of defence operations we look at military strategy  generally , The US UK and Australia are key players in the US defence operations. The other side is China Essentially this is part of this repositioning in terms of US and its allies military strategy  That’s what it’s really about It’ security in energy supply.

It’s not about nuclear weapons. It’s about nuclear powered sources for military uses, and secondarily to deal with economic growth and climate change.. Their interest in climate change  more about the impact it will have on the economy, not about the impact on you and me.

Uranium and other mining banned permanently in Arkaroola Wilderness

October 17, 2011

.Mining ban in region forever Adelaide Now, by: Greg Kelton, State Editor  October 17, 2011
ALL types of mining will be banned in Arkaroola under draft laws unveiled yesterday by Premier Mike Rann.On a visit to the Flinders Ranges, Mr Rann said the proposed legislation would be introduced to Parliament this week.

He said the Government had also begun the formal process of applying for National and World Heritage listing for the region.”We are giving the area the highest level of protection that can be afforded by the Parliament of SA,” Mr Rann said.

“The legislation I am introducing this week will protect the cultural, natural and landscape values of a defined area to be known as the Arkaroola Protection Area and will exclude exploration and all forms of mining…