Whilst the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) public hearings on the guidelines for the electricity reseller tariffs were ongoing inside Gallagher convention centre today, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and different community based organisations were demonstrating their frustrations over the unreasonably high electricity tariffs charged by Eskom and its many electricity resellers outside the venue.
Nuclear plan incomprehensible http://www.bdlive.co.za/opinion/letters/2014/08/05/letter-nuclear-plan-incomprehensible Liz McDaid AUGUST 05 2014 THE Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) shares the government and Eskom’s commitment to service the energy needs of the country and the poor in particular. We therefore find the growing emphasis on and commitment to nuclear energy incomprehensible on economic and moral grounds.
Following Eskom’s revelations to Parliament at the end of last month, Safcei believes that, financially, we cannot afford nuclear energy and calls on the Cabinet to abolish the nuclear focus and expand its renewable energy programme.
According to Eskom, 60% of our power stations are older than the recommended design age of 30 years, resulting in increased breakdowns and need for maintenance.
Life extensions and environmental retrofits will require between R50bn and R260bn. Eskom is looking to claw back additional revenue through more electricity tariff increases. Yet poor communities struggle to afford electricity right now.
According to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, we will find additional finances to build new nuclear energy plants. Given that the cost of nuclear has been put at R1-trillion, who will provide the money?
By contrast, globally, a record of 39GW of new solar photovoltaic capacity was installed last year, which required less financing than in 2012, when only 31GW was deployed. In South Africa, renewable energy plants have added 1,300MW to the grid in just less than two years (with a further 1,200MW expected by end of next year.).
As people of faith, we express our deep concern that our public policies are not in line with the best options for preserving our natural environment, saving energy and alleviating poverty. Safcei believes therefore that there is an ethical imperative to expand renewable energy, which is cheaper to build, has zero fuel costs and can provide sustainable, affordable energy for the people of South Africa.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says she is hoping to appoint a CEO for Eskom in the next few weeks. If the government is serious about addressing the Eskom crisis, it needs to direct the utility to abandon 19th-century thinking and catch up with the 21st century.
We therefore call on Ms Brown to appoint someone who can consider the long-term energy needs of the country. Appointing a renewable energy expert as a CEO would be a good first step.
http://earthlife.org.za/2014/07/protesters-outside-nersa-public-hearing/“…………..protesters are concerned that South African consumers are not seeing the promised investment in social infrastructure because of the huge national debt being accumulated by Eskom. But one of the reasons for the debt is the cheap electricity supply deal that the power utility holds with Australian company BHB Billiton resulting in losses estimated at more than R11.5 billion. Lerato Maragele, Education and Outreach Officer at Earthlife Africa Jhb, explains that: “NERSA must investigate and widely publicise how lost Eskom revenue translates into electricity tariff increases for households.”
Thirdly, protesters are concerned by NERSA’s apparent inactivity on Eskom’s failure to build electricity power stations to budget and on time, and the resultant electricity price increases. “The mandate of NERSA is to promote the protection of the interests of vulnerable groups within the Electricity Supply Industry. The delays at Medupi and Kusile are causing a ripple effect throughout the whole supply chain and impacting on the most vulnerable consumers,” explains Dominique Doyle, Energy Policy Officer at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg.
CONTACTS:Earthlife Africa Johannesburg:
Senior Programme Manager
Tel (w): 011 339 3662
Mobile: 082 682 9177
Email: makoma [at] earthlife.org.za Dominique Doyle
Energy Policy Officer
Tel (w): 011 339 3662
Mobile: 079 331 2028
Email: dominique [at] earthlife.org.za
When uranium is ingested it is deposited in the kidneys, lungs, brain and bone marrow. The alpha particles – which contain massive doses of energy – sit in these parts and damage the tissue around them. Because it is an endocrine disrupter, it increases the risk of fertility problems and reproductive cancer. Large doses are fatal, but the constant exposure to low levels has intergenerational effects that are still not fully understood
One man’s home is another man’s uranium dump, Mail & Guardian, Africa 18 JUL 2014 SIPHO KINGS With nowhere else to live, many seek refuge in the radiation wastelands in Gauteng, unaware of the deadly dangers the abandoned mining areas present……..Faded photographs in the town museum show people sunbathing and swimming in the lake in the 1980s. There were bars, a jetty and a miniature putting course. Now only the foundations remain after it was closed because of the increasing concentration of uranium in Robinson Lake.
In the past it was a place for the residents of Randfontein – 50km west of Johannesburg – to relax on the weekend and forget their jobs in the mining industry. But in the late 1990s the underground mines started closing because the falling price of gold and uranium made them unprofitable. The mines were abandoned and the water levels inside started rising. Acid mine drainage began seeping into the dam, increasing the level of uranium to levels 220 times higher than the safe limit. The resort closed.
Deep into winter a chill breeze blows across the lake, creating ripples in the clear water. The surface is a stark blue reflection of the sky, with the bottom tainted red from the heavy metals in the water. No alga grow here, no fish swim, no underwater life ripples the surface.
The periphery of the lake is a wide ring of cracked yellow earth. The soil beyond is brown. There are 20m-high blue gum trees. There are yellow signs with “Radiation area – Supervised area” wired to the fence around the area and nailed to the trees.
The Witwatersrand gold seam runs for about 100km, from Randfontein in the west of Johannesburg to Springs in the east. A century of mining drove a mining boom, thanks to this being the world’s largest concentration of the precious metal.
Mine shafts up to 3km deep were sunk. The waste was dumped above ground in over 400 mine dumps or tailings dams that now dot the province. These contain a mixture of heavy metals, and an estimated 600 000 tonnes of uranium.
The Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) says this is the only place in the world where large numbers of people live next to dumps full of uranium. Continue reading
Uranium games in Niger and the US-Franco competition Andrew Korybko for RT June 11, 2014 The West has actively been making multidimensional inroads into Africa over the past decade, largely of a malignant nature. The US and its NATO allies are interested in market potential, energy prospects, and military engagement…….
Altogether, the US and France are closely cooperating in the NATO militarization of Africa during the “Second Scramble”. Despite being somewhat different in their approaches, they represent “two hands from the same magician” working behind the scenes to advance the Western interest there. Concurrently, as can be seen by the NSA spying directed against European “allies”, Washington does not place full trust in those that it cooperates with. Therefore, it is fully in line with America’s established track record of deceit to hedge itself towards a position of guiding influence over its partners, specifically France. In the event that Paris’ ambitions for power get the best of it and it once more “goes rogue” from Atlantic command, the US will play the Nigerien uranium card to enact maximum pressure on the country and force it back into the unipolar fold. http://rt.com/op-edge/165092-west-africa-uranium-games/
“………My chief objection to nuclear power is precisely on the cost issue……….from 2008 to early 2010 nuclear costs were stated to be twice as much by nuclear power vendors than by the state. By early 2011, after a multitude of submissions by civil society, even the state admitted that it had undercosted nuclear power by about 40 percent and included a new estimate. The new estimate remained substantially lower than the two tenders submitted by suppliers.
Yet the amount of nuclear energy planned in the IRP II remains unchanged, despite the variation in costs. International experience rates the cost of constructing nuclear plants at about $6 000 (R63 500) per kilowatt hour.
The South African energy planning process calculated this cost as $3 000 in 2010 and $4 300 in 2011 – on what basis remains a mystery.
The second problem with assembling a budget for nuclear procurement is that the costs of waste disposal and decommissioning are of the same order as the cost of construction, but are beset by large uncertainties. For example, in the 2007/08 annual report and accounts of nuclear power generator British Energy, it was estimated the cost of decommissioning its eight plants was £9.4 billion (R167bn) and the cost of disposing of the spent fuel was £5.5bn.
Although we can estimate the order of magnitude, the actual costs are affected by the choice of technology. As such, it is important to include these costs in a tender since they deeply affect the final choice of bidder. So far these costs have not been included in South African energy planning.
As far as the cost of waste disposal is concerned, it has to be borne in mind that these costs have to be borne for a minimum of two and a half centuries before the waste can safely be neglected. Even a very small error in calculation can lead to very large divergences across this timespan. Under conventional accounting procedure, liabilities that must be met in the future should be discounted.
Effectively, this means that a sum of money (or assets of that value) is set aside now and it is assumed that money will earn interest and grow to meet the liability……..What happens if, as is the case in Germany and Japan, the interest rate is negative? It would mean we have to set aside more money now than will be required in the future.
This example demonstrates the point that the really difficult part of nuclear energy planning is that the amount it is going to cost is not knowable. Calculating the net present value of a 250-year expenditure would require that we could foresee the interest rate and the inflation rate for the next 250 years. But we are citizens, not soothsayers. Anybody who tells you they can predict these costs is talking through their hat. To any suggestion that we should give the approval anyway and trust officials to prevent any unreasonable cost overruns, I have but one word: Nkandla.
* Dr Yvette Abrahams works in the department of women and gender studies at University of the Western Cape and with Electricity Governance Initiative South Africa. http://www.iol.co.za/business/opinion/long-time-frames-and-dodgy-numbers-justify-worry-about-nuclear-power-s-cost-1.1700897#.U5oL1HJdUnk
Paladin to shut its uranium mine, Australian Mining, 27 May, 2014 Cole Latimer Paladin has announced it will cease production at its Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi. It comes after the miner advised it would place the operation in to care and maintenance earlier this year. According to Paladin it is ceasing production “due to reasons beyond the company’s control and related to the depressed uranium prices”. On May 21 it halted all operations at the mine, and will now cease supplying uranium to the global market, causing a drop of around 3.3 million pounds of supply per annum. “The outcome is an unfortunate but direct consequence of the continuing deterioration in the uranium price,” the company said in a statement. “Certain estimates now place up to 60% of current annual global production with costs above the current spot price, which is unsustainable.”…..http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/paladin-to-shut-its-uranium-mine
Niger, Areva in hard-won uranium deal, Yahoo 7 Finance, 26 May 14–The government of Niger and French nuclear energy group Areva announced on Monday that they had signed a deal to renew a decades-old agreement for the operation of two uranium mines.
Under the deal, negotiated for 18 months, Areva agreed that a 2006 mining law sharply increasing taxes on mineral extracted would apply to the Somair and Cominak operations in the north of the country which it partially controls.
“We have heard the government’s legitimate call for higher receipts coming from uranium,” said Luc Oursel, Areva CEO, on a visit to Niamey to sign the deal.
However, a joint statement said that the operations would be exempt from sales tax over the course of the five-year deal.
The revenue issue had been the main sticking point in the talks since the government considered that the previous contracts, which expired at the end of last year, were unfavourable to the country, the fourth-biggest producer of uranium in the world.
The French arm of charity Oxfam, which has been a sharp critic of state-controlled Areva’s uranium dealings with Niger, said the new deal continued to shortchange Nigeriens, who stood to lose “10 to 15 million euros a year.” ($13.6 to $20.5 million)……. https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/niger-areva-hard-won-uranium-085912953.html
Areva signs uranium deal with Niger, delays new mine May 27, 2014 By Abdoulaye Massalaki NIAMEY (Reuters) – French nuclear group Areva agreed to a reduction in tax breaks and a rise in royalty rates at its uranium mines in Niger on Monday but said the start of production at its giant new Imouraren mine would be delayed until prices improve……https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/23870138/areva-signs-uranium-deal-with-niger-delays-new-mine/
Poverty-stricken African nations exploited by mining companies, especially Australian uranium miners
THE SCRAMBLE FOR URANIUM IN AFRICA http://www.phantomreport.com/the-scramble-for-uranium-in-africa 19 May 14, Africa’s resources are extracted by outsiders, with benefits only reaching the involved non-African mining companies and non-African end-users of the commodity. Africa is the next frontier to meet energy needs. Oil and gas are being exploited as never before, exacerbating conflict in Darfur and Nigeria, social inequality in Angola, and environmental damage in Chad.
At the same time, renewed demand for uranium is being explored on the continent more than at any other time in history.
Yet the continent’s huge potential for renewable energy is not fully being realised. The government of Malawi granted a uranium mining licence to an Australian uranium mining company without having any legislation on the mining, handling and transportation of radioactive materials. Malawi is now home to twelve potential uranium mines.
In Niger mining companies from Australia, Canada, France and other parts of the world are scrambling for licences to explore uranium in a country which is already the world’s sixth producer of uranium. In the Central African Republic (CAR) there is a scramble amongst Chinese, American and French companies which are all interested in mining the Bakouma region.
In Tanzania the Australian Omega Corp obtained the Mkuju River concessions through its subsidiary, Mantra Resources. Other Australian juniors are represented in Tanzania, including Sabre Resources, Goldstream Mining, Uranex and Deep Yellow.
In Zambia, the Australian Energy Ventures through its subsidiary Africa Energy Resources started drilling the Kariba Valley in May 2008. Another Australian enterprise, Albion Ltd,, is also undertaking exploration.
Nigeria to get $6bn nuclear plant in 2022 – commission PUNCH, MAY 15, 2014 BY OLUSOLA FABIYI The Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission has revealed that the country will get a nuclear plant in 2022 at a cost of $6b dollars.
The Director, Human Resources of the commission, Professor Simon Mallam, who stated this on Thursday when he appeared before the national conference committee on Energy, also urged the Federal government to explore and develop all sources of energy available in the country…..Mallam further advised that although the country wasted a little time in the nuclear arena, it would still be able to deliver nuclear power by 2022 if the enabling environment and support could be given….http://www.punchng.com/news/nigeria-to-get-6bn-nuclear-plant-in-2022-commission/
With smart planning and prudent investment, all African countries can reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and leapfrog into a sustainable future. And, as Africa makes the transition to renewable energy in the coming years, new projects will provide much-needed jobs and power economic growth………Irena’s initiative encourages the deployment of hydro, geothermal, biomass, wind and solar options from Cairo to Cape Town to increase capacity, stabilise the grid, and reduce fossil fuel dependency. It is a regional approach, promoting international cooperation across countries of the eastern and southern African power pools to develop vast energy resources, optimise the energy mix and attract more investment. The plan identifies development zones to cluster renewable plants in areas with high potential, resource planning, new financing models and knowledge and capacity building.
This week, as we convene for the Abu Dhabi Ascent, we are welcoming many African ministers who have engaged with us on this project.
The Africa Clean Energy Corridor is one of the many concrete steps needed that offer a cost-effective, economically viable solution to the climate challenge that lies ahead of us.
With the right combination of policy, investment and rapid deployment, we can make substantial progress in decarbonising the world’s energy mix while generating growth and employment. http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/renewable-energy-will-power-africas-ambitious-future#ixzz30tYRkXQl
Uranium kills in Namibia http://www.news24.com/Columnists/AndreasSpath/Uranium-kills-in-Namibia-20140422 2014-04-22 Andreas Wilson-Späth
That uranium is a radioactive and toxic substance with potentially lethal impacts on the people who dig it out of the ground is generally glossed over by those among us who argue for nuclear power as a clean, green, safe and sustainable source of electricity.
Along with other intractable problems faced by the atomic energy industry – like its propensity to lay to waste entire landscapes if and when things go wrong and the fact that we still don’t have a long-term solution for storing its noxious waste products – this is not in dispute. It’s merely a matter of unintended side-effects. Collateral damage.
For uranium miners in Namibia, however, their occupation in proximity to the metal has much more first-hand and personal consequences. A report soon to be released by Earthlife Namibia and the Labour Resource and Research Institute argues that long-time workers at the Rössing uranium mine are routinely exposed to unhealthy working conditions, radiation and dust.
Rössing, which is located in central Namibia and employs over 1500 people, is majority owned (69%) by British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto. The next biggest shareholders of the mine are the government of Iran (10%) and our own Industrial Development Corporation (10%).
Rio Tinto officials have consistently denied that they’re to blame for any harm, insisting that their operations at Rössing and elsewhere, including their copper, gold, coal, bauxite, iron ore and diamond mines around the world, are well monitored and run ethically, for the benefit of local communities, respecting human rights and protecting the environment.
But a closer look at the multinational’s global operations reveals that Rio Tinto isn’t quite as squeaky clean as they would like us to believe:
• At the end of last year, radioactive and acidic slurry spilled from a uranium processing tank at Rössing. Two weeks later the damaged rubber lining of a similar tank at the company’s Ranger mine in Australia’s Northern Territory leaked more than a million litres of the stuff.
• In 2013, 33 miners perished when a tunnel collapsed at Rio Tinto’s Grasberg gold and copper mine in Indonesia – the largest portion of the total of 41 deaths at their global operations during that year which international trade union IndustriAll claims the company should have done more to prevent.
• Locals have blamed the Grasberg mine for pollution affecting the environment and population.
• In Madagascar, activists have accused Rio Tinto of “land grabbing and environmental devastation”.
• A lawsuit has been filed against Rio Tinto’s Bingham Canyon mine in the US state of Utah for five-year breaches in air pollution regulations. The organisations that brought the case claim, that on some days the dust from the mine has a similar “effect on people who are consistently outdoors” as “smoking a pack of cigarettes a day”
• In Mongolia, indigenous nomadic herders have raised concerns that an expansion of Rio Tinto’s Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in the Gobi desert would threaten the integrity of the local ecosystem along with their access to fresh water.
Of course Rio Tinto also made over $1 billion in profits last year. I guess in the minds of the company’s executives that justifies the occasional mishap.
- Andreas is a freelance writer with a PhD in geochemistry. Follow him on Twitter:@Andreas_Spath
Will Australia’s scientifically illiterate government be sucked in to buying Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)?
Strange time to suggest a LEGO nuclear future for Australia ,Independent Australia, Noel Wauchope 21 April 2014, By 2022, Australia could have many “Lego-like” small nuclear reactors in operation, dotted about the nation. This is being proposed now, not just by the long-term fervent believers in Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), but in formal submissions to the coming Energy White Paper……
The BHP-funded Grattan Institute’s submission envisages a string of these little nuclear reactors, connected to the grid, along Australia’s Eastern coast.
‘The Abbott government is being told that now is the time to flick the switch to “technology neutral,” opening the way for nuclear options.’
Orchison described the advantages of SMRs as ‘Lego-like’.
In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.
America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s. Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.
But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects………..
It should be noted that nowhere in [the original article about China, does the author] Chen mention “small” reactors. However, Australian proponents of ‘small’ reactors welcomed this article, as the Thorium Small Nuclear Reactor is the favourite type proposed for Australia from all 15 possible small designs.
So, while we’re being told that China is racing ahead in the scramble to get these wonderful SMRs, in fact, China has been very much encouraged and helped into this by the U.S. Department of Energy.
This is understandable, seeing that for China it is a government project, with no required expectation of being commercially viable.
In their enthusiasm for China’s thorium nuclear project, writers neglected to mention the sobering points that Stephen Chen made in his South China Morning Post article, such as:
- ‘Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented ‘war-like’ pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve.’
- ‘… opposition from sections of the Chinese public.’
- ‘… technical difficulties – the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals that could damage the reactor.’
- ‘The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.’
- ‘… engineering difficulties .…The thorium reactors would need years, if not decades, to overcome the corrosion issue.’
- ‘These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers.’……….
Australia’s SMR enthusiasts discount the known problems of SMRs. Some brief reminders from the September 2013 report, from the United States’ Institute for Energy and Environmental Research:
- ‘Economics: $90 billion manufacturing order book could be required for mass production of SMRs …the industry’s forecast of relatively inexpensive individual SMRs is predicated on major orders and assembly line production.’
- ‘SMRs will lose the economies of scale of large reactors.’
- ‘SMRs could reduce some safety risks but also create new ones.’
- ‘It breaks, you bought it: no thought is evident on how to handle SMR recalls.’
- Not a proliferation solution. ‘The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.’
- Not a waste solution: ‘The fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products like technetium-99 (half-life over 200,000 years).’
- Ongoing technical problems. ……….http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/strange-timing-to-suggest-a-lego-nuclear-future-for-australia,6404
Radiological Impact of Rössing Uranium Mine – Namibia http://www.facing-finance.org/en/2014/04/radiological-impact-of-rossing-uranium-mine-namibia/ April 17th, 2014 by jdub / facing finance
At the Annual General Meeting of Rio Tinto in London, 15 May 2014, two recent reports about the impact of the uranium mine Rössing near Arandis, Namibia, on the environment and health were presented to the shareholders.
In cooperation with Earthlife Namibia, the French organizationCRIIRAD (Commission de Recherhe et d’Information Independantes sur la Radioactivite) analyzed the radiation of soil, water and sediments samples taken near Rössing´s mine caused by the tailing dams and waste rock dumps. Results show elevated levels of heavy metals and uranium in the samples up to more than 2000 times higher than WHO recommendations.
In their study, Earthlife Namibia surveyed the health status of current and former workers of the mine. Many of them complained of health problems, among them respiratory problems and illnesses due to the constant exposure to radon gas and dust.
CRIIRAD and Earthlife Namibia demand more independent research on radiation at the Rössing mine, a broad independent examination of the health status of workers and access to monitoring data for experts, as well as workers´ unrestricted access to their own medical reports.
Read CRIIRAD´s report here
Read Earthlife Namibia´s report here
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