April 29, 2011

Concerns Linger For Namibia's Uranium Future

Published on Friday April 29 2011

MINES and Energy Minister Isak Katali yesterday confirmed that he has received the Namibia Chamber of Mines’ written concerns about state-owned Epangelo Mining Company getting exclusive exploration and mining rights of uranium, copper, gold, zinc and coal.

The minister is expected to give feedback at a press conference as soon as possible.

“I just got their concerns and will see during the day if we will be able to attend to them and prepare for the press conference,” Katali told The Namibian.

Chamber of Mines general manager Veston Malongo on Wednesday said Cabinet’s approval of a proposal to grant exclusive rights to Epangelo is worrisome.

“We are certainly concerned,” Malango said on Wednesday at the launch of the upcoming Mining Expo.

“We have had a meeting with the minister this morning [Wednesday] seeking clarification, and he asked us to put our concerns in writing,” he said. In a broad-based state of the nation speech delivered to Parliament on Wednesday, President Hifikepunye Pohamba said the law was meant “to ensure that strategic minerals are exploited with the participation of the public sector”.

“It is for this reason that Epangelo Mining company was established as a vehicle for public ownership in the mining sector. I appeal to ... Parliament to speedily pass the envisaged legislation, once it is tabled later this year,” Pohamba said.

Epangelo chief executive Eliphas Hawala told Reuters the state company planned to enter into joint ventures with parties interested in exploration and mining.

“All mining rights in Namibia are vested in the state, including those currently being mined by private companies,” Hawala said.

“The issue is how these rights are controlled through licences. The timeline involved is the prerogative of the state, also depending on consultations with all relevant stakeholders,” he added. – Additional reporting by Nampa-Reuters.

April 22, 2011

China’s Nuclear Plans Could Resume By Summer

Published on Friday April 22 2011

China’s plan to build more Nuclear Power Stations to meet the nation’s growing energy needs could soon 
be back on track after a safety review is set to 
completed this summer, according to a 
mainland news report Friday.

The central government will assess the report and decide if safety improvements are needed, though Chinese experts believe Beijing will resume its nuclear-power ambitions, perhaps with some minor changes, the China Daily reported.
The report cited former industry regulator and Nuclear Power Technology Corp’s senior official Lin Chengge as saying the pace and scale of China’s building will be adjusted, but dramatic changes are unlikely.

Lin is a former director of the National Nuclear Safety Administration. The China Daily report did not specify when it had conducted its interview with Lin.

China halted approvals for new atomic power stations on March 16 pending a review. The review was initiated amid heightened concerns over the safety of atomic power brought following the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant, after Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami brought about the world’s worst Nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

China has laid out plans to add nuclear capacity equivalent to 70 to 80 gigawatts by 2020, up from 10.8 gigawatts currently. Those plans were sketched out before the crisis Japan unfolded last month.

The review group inspected China’ first commercial nuclear power station, the Daya Bay nuclear power plant in Guangdong province, last week, the report said.

April 20, 2011

Australia's Rash Governmental Uranium Blackout

Published on Wednesday April 20 2011
Andrew Robb
Published 9:38 AM, 20 Apr 2011
Through the simple stroke of a pen, Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard could probably achieve more to reduce Global Carbon Emissions than she ever will through the imposition of her 
job-destroying carbon tax.

It is a little known fact that Australian uranium exports help drive clean energy generation abroad, which avoids the production of about 400 million tonnes of greenhouse gases annually.
This is an extraordinary contribution when you consider Australia's annual emissions total around 600 million tonnes.

It also undermines the impression Labor likes to give, that as a nation we are not pulling our weight when it comes to reducing global emissions.

Labor likes to repeat ad nauseam how we are the highest emitters in the world per capita, but rarely mentions how our contribution represents little more than one per cent of the global total.

Currently we are exporting around 10,000 tonnes of uranium per year and as it stands this is the single biggest thing we do to assist global greenhouse gas avoidance efforts.

As it stands, global demand for uranium exceeds production and with ambitious nuclear energy expansion plans in countries like India, China and several others, there is huge potential to further support carbon abatement with our uranium.

This reality exposes the utter stupidity and weakness of Julia Gillard’s refusal to sell uranium to India.

The Prime Minister has bowed to the demands of the Greens to introduce a job destroying, environmentally useless carbon tax.

In the same vein Julia Gillard, despite Cabinet support, won’t stand up to the ‘loony left’ of the Labor Party and insist on supporting uranium sales, which could see an additional one billion tonnes of carbon emissions avoided worldwide – that is, nearly twice Australia’s annual emissions.

Of the world’s 443 nuclear reactors, India currently operates 19, which suggests they represent about 4.5 per cent of world demand, or about 3,000 tonnes per year.

It is estimated that this share will double by 2030 and could even double again by 2050, considering their growth plans.

This means that if Labor overturned its mindless ban, it is estimated that we could reasonably aim to supply India with 40 per cent of its uranium.

Based on current demand that would be about 1,200 additional tonnes per year, rising to 3,000 tonnes in the 2030s.

If Labor signed a new agreement to sell uranium to India tomorrow, as per the agreement signed by the Howard government, which it reneged on, we could quickly help avoid the production of 450 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, the equivalent of 75 per cent of Australia's total emissions.

In fact, Deloitte modelling done for the Australian Uranium Association shows that if our industry was allowed to grow to its full potential, which will never happen under Labor, annual exports could reach up to 37,000 tonnes by 2030. That would be some serious carbon emission avoidance – 1.4 billion tonnes a year.

This would also add up to $17 billion net present value of export dollars to our economy between now and 2030.

The moral of the story is that Australia can play a major role in reducing global emissions, through things like increasing our uranium exports and other direct action measures, without a unilateral carbon tax that will undermine our great comparative advantage.

Andrew Robb is the Coalition, Shadow Minister for Finance and Debt Reduction and Federal Member for Goldstein. 

April 18, 2011

NAMIBIA Remains The World's Fourth Biggest Uranium Producer

Published on Monday April 18 2011

NAMIBIA remained the world's fourth biggest uranium producer in the world last year, while Rio Tinto's Rössing Uranium is still the third largest Uranium mine globally.
A Total of 4 496 tonnes of Uranium in 2010, steadily increasing from 4 626 tonnes in 2009 and 4 366 the Year before.

Kazakhstan was the world’s top producer last year with 17 803 tonnes of contained uranium, followed by Canada and Australia.

China and India, two large fast-developing emerging economies with ambitious nuclear programmes, produced only 827 tonnes and 400 tonnes respectively, Old Mutual Namibia group economist Robin Sherbourne said.

Cameco overtook Areva, the owner of Trekkopje mine currently under construction, as the world’s number one uranium producing company followed by Kazatomprom, Rio Tinto and ARMZ, while Paladin, the owner of Langer Heinrich, stayed in ninth position.

Rössing mine was still ranked the world’s third largest uranium producing mine after McArthur River in Canada and Ranger in Australia.

April 13, 2011

New U.S. Nuclear Build Continues Unabated After Fukushima

Published on Wednesday April 13 2011
FAIRFIELD COUNTY (WACH) -- It's full speed ahead at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville, where two units are under development.

In the wake of Japan's nuclear disaster, SCE&G invited the media to tour the facility on Tuesday. Officials stressed its current unit and the two in pre-construction are designed to withstand natural disasters.

“Not only is a tsunami unlikely,” says SCE&G’s COO Steve Byrne, “the kind of earthquakes they experienced in Japan is also unlikely to happen here in South Carolina.”

There are no active fault lines in the vicinity of the utility's nuclear plant and even so, it's built to survive the largest earthquake the region could experience, according to Byrne.

Alan Torres oversees construction at the plant and adds the design of the units is substantially safer than the one in Japan.

"The AP1000 is specifically designed to shut itself down in the event of an emergency or accident condition without the need of outside electricity,” Torres says.

SCE&G expects to have its two units completed within eight years.

Right now, the state receives about 55 percent of its power from nuclear plants. Officials anticipate that number to go up and the need for coal and natural gas to go down with the addition of the two units.

Byrne believes it will be a positive change for the utility.

“Whether customers necessarily recognize that now or not,” says Byrne, “it will prevent spikes in fuel prices.”

The total cost of the project is estimated to be around $9.8 billion.

Although it won’t be until 2016 before the first of the two units go online, the state’s economy is already getting a boost, more than half of SCE&G workforce for this project are coming from within South Carolina.

April 12, 2011

Energy Resources (ERA) Forced To Purchase 4,000,000 Lbs Of Uranium After Mine Disruption

Published on Tuesday April 12 2011

* ERA says will need to buy up to 4,000,000 Lbs of Uranium after rains hit Mine.

* Cuts 2011 production guidance by more than one-third

* Sees H1 loss of between $30-$50 million (Recasts, adds details)
SYDNEY, April 12 (Reuters) - Australian uranium miner Energy Resources Australia (ERA) is being forced to buy uranium on the global market to meet its sales commitments as problems persist at its Ranger mine in northern Australia, the company said.

Heavy rains have flooded the mine pit and led to the suspension of processing of uranium oxide, sending output tumbling 42 percent in the March quarter. Processing is likely to remain stalled until at least late July, the miner said on Tuesday.

ERA, controlled by Rio Tinto , said it would need to buy as much as 2,100 tonnes of uranium oxide from third parties to meet its sales commitments of 4,500 tonnes this year.

It also forecast a first-half loss of between $30 million and $50 million, and said it was reviewing mine operations.

"In light of this continued suspension, which has occurred immediately after a very challenging 2010, a comprehensive business review of ERA's current operations and future projects is well underway," the company said.

"The review will assess priorities, processes and future expenditure."

ERA expects to mine only around 2,400 tonnes in 2011, well below earlier guidance of near 3,800 tonnes. (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Mark Bendeich)

April 8, 2011

Possible Major Impact To Uranium Prices - ERA Possible Closure Of Ranger Uranium Mine

Published on Friday April 8 2011

Mining companies continue to be at odds with traditional Aboriginal land owners, this time in the world-heritage listed section of the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory.

Earlier this week, an Aboriginal elder in the Kimberly slammed environmentalists who called for a rejection of a gas project on the coast , and further in land in Western Australia, the Yindjibarndi people remain locked in a battle over land near Karratha with Fortescue Metals’ Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest.

Energy Resources Australia (ERA) currently produces about 10 per cent of the world’s uranium, but the Mirrar people who own the section of the Kakadu National Park that includes the company’s Ranger mine wants to stop mining there.

The mining company suspended operations in January due to the wet weather, with the mine’s tailings dam near capacity.

It has operated on a lease inside Kakadu for 30 years, and joins other companies fighting battles over land rights.

The ABC is reporting that just days prior to ERA’s annual general meeting, a scientist previously employed by the company revealed contaminated water leaking from the mine into nearby waterways is a possibility.

His comments mean the mine will most likely remain closed for the rest of the year.

During a public forum in Darwin last night Mirarr woman Yvonne Margarula, the senior traditional owner of the mine site said the Indigenous community remains opposed to mining, and pointed towards the risk of unsatisfactory water management and possible downstream environmental damage as part of the reason they are against ERA continuing at Ranger.

"We still say no - no more mining," she said.

An industrial chemist who worked for ERA and is now employed by the Mirarr people told the forum the company would not be able to safely treat the contaminated water stored at Ranger by the time the mining lease expires in 10 years.

"They have facilities to remediate water through chemical water processing, ends up with micro-filtration and osmosis, and it is top-shelf stuff, but it can only do a couple of megalitres a day - and they have got 10 gigalitres," he told the audience.

"We are terrified that this is going to ruin our country."

An announcement to confirm whether the mining suspension will continue is expected from ERA on Tuesday and Kyle thinks the mine will remain closed more than three months.

"The facts are that the pit has already got a big mob of water in it and I can't see Ranger getting started again this year."

Traditional owners are also against ERA’s planned use of an acid-leaching process to increase production and the construction of a new exploratory mine shaft and are calling for Ranger to be shut permanently prior to the annual general meeting scheduled for next.

Earlier in the week ERA chief executive Rob Atkinson said the company is making changes to improve the management of contaminated water from its Ranger mine.

"I mean you go through a wet season like we have done - it does cause you to think, to assess, to work out how you can do things better, safer," he said.

April 6, 2011

U.K. Says Nuclear Plants Will Move Ahead During Study on Safety

Published on Wednesday April 6 2011

The U.K. government will allow work on building new nuclear power plants to progress as it conducts a study of the disaster at an atomic facility in Japan, the minister in charge of climate change said.

There will be no “material delay” in the U.K.’s plan to allow new nuclear generators at eight sites, Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said in an interview in New York. The report, he said, is due to be handed to ministers next month.

Barker’s remarks were aimed at assuaging concerns that Britain’s reactor-building program would be held up while the nuclear regulator studies the accident in Japan, caused when an earthquake and tsunami interrupted power to cooling pumps at a Tokyo Electric Power Co. facility. The U.K. estimates it needs investment of 200 billion pounds ($320 billion) to replace aging generators including nuclear plants by 2010.

“We’re not proposing to build in an earthquake zone, and we’re not proposing to build somewhere prone to tsunamis, but we will be looking to see what can be taken from that terrible crisis,” Barker, a Conservative member of Parliament in the coalition government, said.

E.ON AG (EOAN), EDF SA (EDF) and RWE AG (RWE) are among the companies bidding for work replacing Britain’s aging atomic power stations. Germany halted nuclear stations and said it would review whether it should continue with building more, and China and India also are studying what they should change as a result of the accident in Japan.
Safety Report

Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg fanned concerns about a delay last week, when he told reporters that the new plants may never be built because of raising costs associated with new safety standards.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne’s last month asked Mike Weightman, the country’s chief nuclear inspector, to determine what the U.K. can learn about the accident in Japan. Barker dismissed the idea that the report would make any conclusions that would hold up work. 

“We aren’t expecting any surprises and are equally determined to learn any lessons that are applicable in the U.K.,” Barker said. “There’s no change to our timetable.”

It’s too soon to tell if the incident at the Fukushima power plant will affect global emissions targets, he said. “But it will drive an even greater sense of the need to save energy to reduce dependency,” he said. Energy efficiency will be the technology that receives the greatest boost from the disaster at Fukushima, he said.

“We don’t see in the U.K. a need for any major departure from our strategy as a result of Fukushima. Safety remains our paramount concern but we see no reason today to divert from our published plans,” he said.