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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Ugly Australians, like Paladin Energy, linked to 100s of deaths in uranium mining in Malawi and Namibia

There is a very strong perception that when Australian mining companies come here they take every advantage of regulatory and compliance monitoring weaknesses, and of the huge disparity in power between themselves and affected communities, and aim to get away with things they wouldn’t even think of trying in Australia,”

flag-AustraliaAustralian miners linked to hundreds of deaths, injuries in Africa, SMH,  July 11, 2015 -Will FitzgibbonAustralian mining companies are linked to hundreds of deaths and injuries in Africa, which can go unreported at home. Some of the Australian Securities Exchange-listed companies include state governments as shareholders. One company recorded 38 worker deaths over an eleven-year period.

justiceIn Malawi, litigation continues against Paladin Africa Limited, a subsidiary of Perth-based Paladin Energy, and its subcontractor after an explosion disfigured one worker with such heat that his skin shattered when touched by rescuers. Two others died in the same incident.

Other allegations include employees in South Africa hacking a woman with a machete and Malian police killing two protesters after a mine worker reportedly asked authorities to dislodge a barricade on the road to the mine.

An investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in collaboration with 13 African reporters, uncovered locally-filed lawsuits, violent protests and community petitions criticising some Australian companies.  Continue reading

July 11, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, health, Malawi, Namibia | Leave a comment

The Ugly Australians, And Other Miners, Leaving Health and Environmental Damage in Namibia

[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.

Continue reading

July 11, 2015 Posted by | environment, Namibia, Reference | 2 Comments

A year of losses for Namibia’ Rossing uranium mine

Namibia’s Rossing Uranium revenue tumbled in 2014 – official, Star Africa May 19, 2015  The impact of lower prices and the lower production figures in 2014 has strained Rossing Uranium’s revenue, which declined by 19 per cent compared to the previous year, leading to a net loss after tax of N$91 million (about US$8 million), compared to N$32 million (about US$2.7 million) profit in 2013.

The company’s turnover in 2014 was N$2.4 billion (about US$201 million), down from N$2.9 billion (about US$243 million) in 2013.

Managing director Werner Duvenhage revealed in a statement issued to APA on Tuesday that 2014 was a tough year due to continued decline of uranium globally, putting substantial pressure on the business.

“The challenging times currently experienced in our industry are mainly because of global influences. It was a tough year because the uranium price continued to decline globally, putting substantial pressure on our business, with the average uranium spot market price at US$33 (N$333) per lbs, much lower than the US$38 (N$418)) per lbs average in 2013,â€� he explained……….

Unfortunately, the uranium price declined further during the first half of the year, leading to a management and board decision to curtail production and meet only contractual commitments, with the resulting curtailment production plan effective from August 2014,� he said.

“The 2011 tsunami in Japan and its impact on the Fukushima nuclear plant still continued to plague the uranium market in 2014, with excess supply causing a decline in market prices.

“Nuclear plants in Japan remained off-line for most of the year. Supply has increased over the three years since the Fukushima incident.

“This is a recipe for continued weak prices in the near term. Utilities are holding large stocks in all forms, which defer their need to buy for one to three years on averageâ€�……http://en.starafrica.com/news/namibias-rossing-uranium-revenue-tumbled-in-2014-official.html

May 20, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, Namibia, Uranium | Leave a comment

Open pit uranium mine fire in Namibia

exclamation-SmFire at Namibia’s Rossing Uranium plant A fire has broken out at the product recovery plant of the Rio Tinto-owned Rossing Uranium mine in Namibia, the company confirmed on Friday. The Citizen, 13 Feb 15  “The origin and cause of the fire and possible damage to equipment or the final product recovery (FPR) building is currently being assessed,” the mine said in a statement on its website according to a Sapa correspondent. The mine is situated in the central Namib Desert, 60 kilometres east of the coastal tourism town of Swakopmund.

The fire broke out around midday on Thursday in the FPR plant of the open pit mine, where drums are filled with processed uranium, also called “yellow cake”.

Emergency response teams brought the fire under control…….The German language newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung reported that members of the fire brigade had to hand in their protective clothing to mining officials after the fire was extinguished and had to undergo urine tests……http://citizen.co.za/326132/fire-namibias-rossing-uranium-plant/

February 14, 2015 Posted by | incidents, Namibia | Leave a comment

The uranium industry’s role in causing cancer in Namibia

cancer_cellsCancer Locks a Deadly Grip on Africa, Yet It’s Barely Noticed,  By Jeffrey Moyo HARARE, Feb 13 2015 (IPS) – Hidden by the struggles to defeat Ebola, malaria and drug-resistant tuberculosis, a silent killer has been moving across the African continent, superseding infections of HIV and AIDS.

World Cancer Day commemorated on Feb. 4 may have come and gone, but the spread of cancer in Africa has been worrying global health organisations and experts year round. The continent, they fear, is ill-prepared for another health crisis of enormous proportions.

By 2020, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 16 million new cases of cancer are anticipated worldwide, with 70 percent of them in developing countries. Africa and Asia are not spared………

in Namibia, uranium workers were reported to have elevated rates of cancers and other illnesses after working in one of Africa’s largest mines.

Rio Tinto’s Rössing uranium mine extracts millions of tonnes of rock a year for the mineral. “Most workers stated that they are not informed about their health conditions and do not know if they have been exposed to radiation or not. Some workers said they consulted a private doctor to get a second opinion,” say researchers at Earthlife Namibia and the Labour Resource and Research Institute who collaborated in a study.

“The older workers all said they know miners dying of cancers and other illnesses. Many of these are now retired and many have already died of cancers,” says the study report……..http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/02/cancer-locks-a-deadly-grip-on-africa-yet-its-barely-noticed/

February 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncatego

February 14, 2015 Posted by | health, Namibia, Uranium | Leave a comment

Rio Tinto’s $billion uranium profits at the expense of cancer death sin Africa

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.

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 theLabour Resource and Research Institute argues that long-time workers at the Rössing uranium mine are routinely exposed to unhealthy working conditions, radiation and dust. The survey of current and former Rössing employees suggests that an anomalous number of them are dying of cancer and other mysteriously unexplained illnesses caused by their working conditions.

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

April 23, 2014 Posted by | health, Namibia, Uranium | Leave a comment

Rio Tinto’s AGM faced with facts on radiological impact of Rossing uranium mine

uranium-oreRadiological 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 

At the Annual General Meeting of Rio Tinto in London, 15 May text-radiation2014, 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

April 19, 2014 Posted by | environment, Namibia, Uranium | 1 Comment

Uranium mining affected by water shortage, water prices

nuke-tapUranium Miners in Namibia Face Rise in Water Price, Paladin Says http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-04-04/uranium-miners-in-namibia-face-rise-in-water-price-paladin-says By Felix Njini April 04, 2014 Uranium miners in Namibia, already coping with water shortages in the semi-arid Erongo region, face a steep rise in costs, Paladin Energy (PDN) Ltd. said.

“When we get it, sometimes we have problems with the quality of the water and the cost,” said Simon Solomons, managing director of Paladin’s Langer Heinrich mine. “At the moment there is no long-term solution to the water-supply situation.”

The mines operated by Paladin, Rio Tinto Plc and China General Nuclear Power Group rely on water from a 20 million-cubic-meter capacity desalination plant operated by Areva SA, a French reactor maker. Areva is in talks to sell a majority stake in the plant to state utility Namibia Water Corp. after shelving its Trekkopje project in 2012 as uranium prices slumped in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

Namwater has “to look for finance to buy the plant,” Solomons said yesterday during a tour of the Subiaco, Western Australia-based company’s mine. “They will pass on those charges to the uranium mines.”

Calls to Namwater weren’t immediately answered.

The three mines, which require as much as 10 million cubic meters of water a year, were previously supplied by the Omaruru Delta aquifer, which has dwindling volumes as demand from the mines and surrounding towns of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay rises.

Langer Heinrich, which consumes 130,000 cubic meters of water a month, has had “no long-term and no firm discussion” with Namwater over supplies, Solomons said.

Namibia is the fourth-largest uranium producer after Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia.

To contact the reporter on this story: Felix Njini in Windhoek at fnjini@bloomberg.net

April 5, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Namibia, Uranium | Leave a comment

Catastrophic radioactive spill at Rio Tinto’s Rossing uranium mine

Rössing shuts operations after ‘catastrophic leak’ Namibia Times, December 6, 2013  By Jade McClune & Marshallino Beukes All milling operations at Rössing Uranium Mine ground to an immediate halt after “a catastrophic structural failure” at one of twelve leach tanks in the processing plant on Tuesday.

The incident triggered a veritable crisis, reinforcing widespread fears of a radioactive leak.

Sources at the mine told the Namib Times on Tuesday that they had heard some “kind of explosion”.

The mine has since confirmed that a leak was detected near one of the leach tanks and said there was “a very serious incident”, but did not mention any explosion.

A Red Banner Health and Safety Alert was sent out to all employees of the mine on Wednesday, confirming that there had been a “leach tank failure” at around 18:30 on Tuesday, 3 December.

The actual outcome of the incident was described as “serious” and the “maximum reasonable outcome: critical”……..http://www.namibtimes.net/forum/topics/rossing-shuts-operations-after-catastrophic-leak

December 10, 2013 Posted by | incidents, Namibia, Uranium | Leave a comment

Water shortage affecting uranium mining industry in Namibia

Rio Tinto, Paladin Uranium Mines in Namibia Face Water Shortage, Bloomberg News By Felix Njini November 18, 2013 Uranium mines operated by companies including Rio Tinto Plc (RIO) and Paladin Energy Ltd. in Namibia face a water shortage as a drought in the southwest African nation curbs supply to the operations and three coastal towns.

Volumes from the Omaruru Delta acquifer, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) northwest of the capital, Windhoek, have declined to 4 million cubic meters this year from 9 million cubic meters a year earlier, said Nehemia Abraham, under-secretary for water and forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture.

The source is in the semi-arid Erongo region, which supplies the towns of Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Henties Bay and suffers from severe shortages. Water from a desalination plant owned by Areva SA (AREVA), the country’s first such facility, isn’t enough to meet needs of Paladin’s Langer Heinrich uranium mine, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co.’s Husab uranium project and Rio’s Rossing complex.

“The water-supply situation at the coastal area has become too critical,” Abraham said by phone yesterday. “Mining companies in the area will have to operate with less water. We are reviewing the situation now and from end of November we might be unable to get enough water from the aquifer to supply to mines.”

Langer Heinrich spokeswoman Ratonda Murangi didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed questions. Botha Ellis, a spokesman for Rossing, directed queries to Namibia Water Corp., the country’s state-owned utility known as Namwater.

Water Needs

Rossing’s total water requirement for 2012 was 7.48 million cubic meters, 41 percent of which was for fresh water, while the rest was recycled, according to its website.

The three towns use about 4.5 million cubic meters and there is currently no spare capacity from the aquifer, known as Omdel, Abraham said…… http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-11-18/rio-tinto-paladin-uranium-mines-in-namibia-face-water-shortage

November 20, 2013 Posted by | Namibia, water | Leave a comment

Australian uranium miner Paladin’s share price tumbles

Shares of uranium miner Paladin dive after cancelled sale  Reuters, Aug. 02 2013,  Shares of Australian uranium miner Paladin Energy Ltd. fell as much as 29 per cent in Toronto on Friday after the company cancelled plans for now to sell a minority interest in an African mine, and instead raised funds through a private placement of shares. Paladin said it ended negotiations with a potential investor on Thursday and all other parties for a stake in its Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia. The company said it was unlikely to get the price it wanted because of low uranium prices….. Trading of Paladin stock was halted in both Canada and Australia on Thursday, pending news.

Paladin’s stock was down 28 per cent, or 26 Canadian cents to 66 Canadian cents in early trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/shares-of-uranium-miner-paladin-dive-after-cancelled-sale/article13572589/

August 3, 2013 Posted by | business and costs, Namibia, Uranium | 1 Comment

Share price falls as Paladin’s sale of Langer Heinrich uranium mine is delayed

Uranium producer Paladin’s shares slide after stake sale delay BY:BARRY FITZGERALD   The Australian June 27, 2013 SHARES in African uranium producer Paladin have been pulled back to near 52-week lows because of a delay in a planned debt-reducing sale of a minority equity position in the group’s flagship Langer Heinrich operation in Namibia.

It had been hoped that Paladin would make inroads into its $US740 million debt pile by making the sale the news of which pushed the shares from an April low of 70c to more than $1 a share in late May. But recent concerns that the previously advised June 30 target date would not be met have sent the shares lower.

The concerns were well placed, with Paladin saying yesterday that the planned sale had been delayed until mid-to-late August. Paladin shares closed 6c, or 6.8 per cent, lower at 82c.

The fall came despite Paladin managing director John Borshoff remaining confident a sale will be achieved. The planned deal is with two unnamed nuclear groups……http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/uranium-producer-paladins-shares-slide-after-stake-sale-delay/story-e6frg9df-1226670445221

June 27, 2013 Posted by | business and costs, Namibia | Leave a comment

In dismal uranium market, Rio Tinto cuts back, slashes jobs

graph-down-uraniumNamibia’s Roessing uranium mine to slash jobs Global Post, 1 Mar 13, The Roessing uranium mine in Namibia, a unit of British mining giant Rio Tinto, said Friday it plans to cut 17 percent of its workforce due to slowing demand for nuclear fuel…. As with many other uranium producers, Roessing is buckling under low metal prices and reduced demand, the company’s managing director Chris Salisbury told reporters.

“Since the Japanese tsunami in 2011, uranium demand has remained depressed and the uranium price has fallen by more than 36 percent,” he said.

Japan shut down its nuclear power plants after the tsunami destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant, and a number of other countries including Germany have also signalled they plan to reduce or phase out their facilities.

“With the utility sector in Japan essentially shutdown, there is little prospect of a turnaround in the near term,” he added.

At the same time electricity and water costs have gone up…. Roessing Uranium Limited is owned 68.6 percent by British mining giant Rio Tinto and is one of two operating uranium mines in Namibia. .http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130301/namibia-s-roessing-uranium-mine-slash-jobs

March 2, 2013 Posted by | business and costs, Namibia, Uranium | Leave a comment

Australian uranium companies use taxpayer funds to set up overseas aid, and look good

Paladin, which has been the subject of some controversy in Malawi over job cuts, was last year linked to a funding application through its employees’ charity – Friends and Employees of Paladin for African Children.

 Paladin’s (African) Ltd general manager, international affairs, Greg Walker, who was invited late last year to be Australia’s honorary consul to Malawi, was involved in the process, according to 2012 correspondence from Australia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Matthew Neuhaus, to Mr Walker. The letter obtained under freedom of information confirmed Mr Walker’s successful application for the employees’ charity funding proposal.

ethics-nuclearThe Aidwatch director Thulsi Narayanasamy said it was not the place of the Australian aid program to fund the corporate social responsibility programs of wealthy mining companies.

Firms use tax money for aid projects : http://www.smh.com.au/money/tax/firms-use-tax-money-for-aid-projects-20130129-2ditd.html#ixzz2Jbp0RzOT  January 30, 2013 Rory Callinan

WEALTHY resource companies operating overseas are tapping into Australian taxpayer funds to set up aid projects potentially benefiting their corporate social responsibility credentials.

Aid and mining watchdogs have expressed concerns about the practice, arguing the corporations are wealthy enough to bankroll their own aid and that linking donations to controversial mine operations is a conflict of interest.

Nine mining companies all operating in Africa have been linked to the successful applications via the Foreign Affairs Department’s Direct Aid Program – a scheme that allows heads of missions to give up to $30,000 to local causes.

About $215,000 of taxpayers’ money went to the mining company-conceived projects last financial year, including a school for the deaf, providing trade skill training to local workers, establishing women’s groups and digging wells. Two applications involved uranium mining companies, Paladin Energy in Malawi and Bannerman Resources in Namibia. Continue reading

January 31, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Malawi, Namibia, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Doom and gloom for the uranium industry – no improvement in sight

End of last month, the price had fallen to US$49.25 and for most of September, it hovered at the US$48 mark. This is almost 60% below the entry level target as calculated by Bannerman. The impact on the development of new mines, is obvious.

 I believe the commodities boom is over, or at least on hold for another five years. In the meantime, no new mines.

Our Anticipated Uranium Projects Will Not Go Ahead, Except One [analysis] Equities.com Daniel Steinmann All Africa Global Media 22 Sept12, Bannerman Resources, the Australian company driving one of four new uranium projects in Namibia, recently said at a mining conference, the price for uranium U308 needs to be between US$75 and US$90 per pound (0.454kg) to drive any new investment in greenfields uranium mines.

Hidden in this seemingly neutral observation and analysis, are many serious consequences for the further development of the uranium sector Continue reading

September 23, 2012 Posted by | business and costs, Namibia, Uranium | Leave a comment

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