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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Australian uranium company meets stiff opposition from Inuit, to Greenland mine project

nuke-indigenousGreenland Inuit oppose open-pit uranium mine on Arctic mountain-top http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988016/greenland_inuit_oppose_openpit_uranium_mine_on_arctic_mountaintop.html, Bill Williams ,17th August 2016 

A collapse in the price of uranium has not yet stopped Australian mining company GME from trying to press ahead with a massive open-pit uranium mine on an Arctic mountain in southern Greenland, writes Bill Williams – just returned from the small coastal town of Narsaq where local people and Inuit campaigners are driving the growing resistance to the ruinous project.

As a doctor I routinely get asked for a second opinion, but it is not often that I travel halfway around the world to deliver it.

Recently I was invited to assess an old Danish uranium exploration site in Kvanefjeld in southern Greenland.

Inuit Ataqatigiit – the opposition party in the national parliament – had asked me to talk to local people about the health implications of re-opening the defunct mine.

An Australian firm called Greenland Minerals and Energy (GME) has big plans to extract uranium and rare earth minerals here. It would be a world first: an open-pit uranium mine on an Arctic mountain-top.

From the top of the range above the mine site I looked down across rolling green farmland to the small fishing village of Narsaq. Colourful timber houses rested at the edge of a deep blue strait that the Viking Eric the Red navigated a thousand years ago. Hundreds of icebergs bobbed on its mirror-like surface. To the east, half way up the valley, a small creek tumbled into a deep rock pool.

Behind that saddle lies Lake Tesaq, a pristine Arctic lake that GME plans to fill with nearly a billion tonnes of waste rock. This part of the mine waste would not be the most radioactive, because the company plans to dump this material in a nearby natural basin, with the promise that an ‘impervious’ layer would prevent leaching into the surrounding habitat.

Left behind – all the toxic products of radioactive decay

These mine tailings would contain the majority of the original radioactivity – about 85% in fact – because the miners only want the uranium and the rare earth elements. They would mine and then leave the now highly mobile radioactive contaminants, the progeny from the uranium decay behind: thorium, radium, radon gas, polonium and a horde of other toxins.

Even at very low levels of exposure ionising radiation is recognised as poisonous: responsible for cancer and non-cancer diseases in humans over vast timespans.

This is why my own profession is under growing pressure to reduce exposure of our patients to X-Rays and CT scans in particular – making sure benefit outweighs risk. It’s also why ERA, the proprietors of the Ranger mine in Kakadu, Australia, are legally obliged to isolate the tailings for at least 10,000 years.

While this is hardly possible, the mere fact that it is required highlights the severity and longevity of the risk. My Inuit audience in Narsaq was particularly interested to hear the messages I brought from traditional owners in Australia like Yvonne Margarula, of the Mirarr people:

“The problems always last, but the promises never do.”

And Jeffrey Lee from Koongara:

“I will fight to the end and we will stop it, then it won’t continue on for more uranium here in Kakadu.”

So far in 2016, not a single new nuclear reactor has opened

August 26, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, Uranium | Leave a comment

USA considers supplying weapons grade uranium to Belgium!

U.S. mulls long-term, bomb-grade uranium exports to Belgium Reuters By Timothy Gardner and Robert-Jan Bartunek | WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS, 25 Aug 16 

The U.S. nuclear regulator is considering long-term shipments of weapons-grade uranium to a medical research reactor in security-challenged Belgium, something critics say would set back global anti-proliferation efforts.

With a final decision still months away, the Belgian Nuclear Research Center is seeking permission from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to receive 317 pounds (144 kilos) of highly enriched uranium, or HEU, fuel in a series of shipments over 10 years.

The United States has supplied the reactor, which produces radioisotopes for fighting cancer, with HEU for decades. But the long-term nature of the latest request is unprecedented; previous agreements have been for periods of one to three years.

The Belgian research center has told U.S. officials since at least 2005 that it is on the verge of converting to low-enriched uranium, or LEU, not suitable for bombs. But there is no definitive date set for that change.

“Now more than a decade has passed and they are asking for another 10 years – that seems to be a bit preposterous,” said Armando Travelli, who until 2005 headed the U.S. Energy Department’s program to convert research reactors to safer uranium and bring bomb-grade uranium back to the United States.

If the Belgian reactor closes before the end of the 10 years, it could leave the center with an HEU supply over which the United States would have little control, he said……..http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-nuclear-belgium-idUSKCN10Q0VL?feedType=RSS&feedName=GCA-Commodities

August 26, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Indigenous Americans still paying the health price of uranium mining, long after mines shut

Years after mining stops, uranium’s legacy lingers on Native land  http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2016/tribal-series/crow-series/years-after-mining-stops-uraniums-legacy-lingers-on-native-land  August 22, 2016 By Brian Bienkowski
Editor’s Note: This story is part of “Sacred Water,” EHN’s ongoing investigation into Native American struggles—and successes—to protect culturally significant water sources on and off the reservation.

nuke-indigenous

CROW AGENCY, Mont.—The Crow are not alone in their struggle with uranium. The toxic metal is irrefutably intertwined with Native Americans, long a notorious national environmental injustice. Some 15,000 abandoned uranium mines with uranium contamination pocket 14 Western states. Of those, 75 percent are on federal and tribal lands, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Contamination is especially concentrated across the Colorado Plateau near the Four Corners region of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, leaving a lasting impact on tribes such as Navajos, Utes, Hopi and Zuni.

The area became saturated with the dangerous metal from the heavy mining fueled by Cold War-era anxieties in the 1940s and ’60s, and the lax cleanup of the 1980s.

Most of the mines were on federal land—managed by the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management. But tribes, namely the Navajo, were swept into the uranium-mining boom for both their labor and land and are still dealing with the mess it left.

More than 521 abandoned uranium mines pocket Navajo land alone. Some 90 percent of uranium milling in the United States took place on or just outside the boundaries of Native American reservations, according to a 2015 study.  This left a legacy of dirty water, leftover toxic waste and health problems such as lung cancer and developmental delays for children in many Western tribes.

Such pollution becomes a force multiplier for Native Americans—on the Crow reservation it adds to economic, health and historical burdens, and further complicates the ability to cultivate and sustain their culture.

In the body, most—but not all—uranium is excreted. What remains settles mostly in the kidneys and bones. Excess uranium has been linked to increased cancer risk, liver damage, weakened bone growth, developmental and reproductive problems.

Even at low levels uranium may play a role in some cancers and fertility problems. Studies have shown it acts as an endocrine disruptor, mimicking the hormone estrogen. Hormones are crucial for proper development, and such altering can lead to some cancers and fertility and reproductive problems.

For the Navajo Nation, many men worked in mining or milling, unaware of the risks, and later dealt with various cancers and failing kidneys. In 2000 researchers reported that from 1969 to 1993 Navajo uranium miners had a lung-cancer rate about 29 times that of non-mining Navajos, according to the study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Most of the mining tunnels, pits and waste piles remain on the reservation today near Navajo families. Water, already scarce, remains tainted with uranium and other metals. In one report, researchers found elevated uranium levels in the urine of 27 percent of almost 600 Navajo tribal members tested. The U.S. population as a whole is closer to 5 percent.

The uranium-mining legacy also left contaminated groundwater on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Indians. In Washington state, two mines were shuttered in the 1980s, but more than 30 million tons of radioactive rock and ore remain at the site. Today it is a federal Superfund site. Researchers are now tracking cancer rates on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

“We see a high percentage of wells contaminated with trace elements like uranium in the double digits all over the U.S, but they are certainly more prevalent in Western, more arid areas.”
– Joe Ayotte, USGSThis toxic trail spreads throughout the West. Some uranium mining took place near the Crow Reservation, but naturally occurring levels can infiltrate drinking water wells too. And private wells don’t have the same safeguards of testing and treatment that public water does.

“We see a high percentage of wells contaminated with trace elements like uranium in the double digits all over the U.S, but they are certainly more prevalent in Western, more arid areas,” says Joe Ayotte, chief of groundwater quality studies section for the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS reported 20 percent of untreated water samples from public, private and monitoring wells nationwide contained concentrations of at least one trace element, such as uranium, arsenic and manganese.  Manganese and uranium were found at levels at or above human health standards in 12 percent and 4 percent of wells nationwide, respectively, according to the study.

Like the rest of the country, Montana home wells have historically not been tested for elements such as uranium and manganese, so it’s unclear if Crow is an outlier or the norm for the state.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality does not have regulatory authority over private wells on tribal lands, says Lisa Peterson, an agency spokesperson, adding that they haven’t received any information about contamination on the Crow Reservation.
For questions or feedback about this piece, contact Brian Bienkowski at bbienkowski@ehn.org.

August 24, 2016 Posted by | health, indigenous issues, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Problems of UK and EU’s uranium supply from Russia, Kazachstan and elsewhere

uranium-oreUranium from Russia, with love, Ecologist, 4th August, 2016 Uranium mining is a dirty business that we didn’t clean up but sourced out to less demanding countries, so why isn’t this being discussed in any debate about nuclear energy asks NICK MEYNEN

Amidst all the fuss about Hinkley C andother planned nuclear power plants in the EU and US, does anyone knows where the stuff that keeps these reactors buzzing comes from? Here’s a fun fact: no other country supplies so much uranium to the EU than … Russia. Putin has more than the gas valve if he wants to play games with Europe. And the degree to which the US has become dependent on non-stable foreign sources of uranium is also unprecedented.
Let’s churn on a couple of numbers first. The US now depends on imports of uranium for 94% of their total demandFor the EU it’s even 97%. More than a quarter of all uranium used in the EU comes from Russia, up from 10% in 2005 – when more befriended countries like Australia and Canada used to supply 46% of all uranium to the EU. Their combined share of exports to the EU has dropped to under 30%. These trends have geopolitical implications.

One issue is security. Reciprocal sanctions between Russia and the EU are now in place for over two years. If some recent polls in the US become reality and Trump becomes the new US president, things will get worse for the EU. Trump already hinted that a grim scenario (or much worse) could play out in Latvia or Estonia, EU countries with a Russian minority of over a quarter of the whole population. How hard can the EU bite in the hand that feeds it with the gas and uranium it so desperately needs? Putin will answer: not that hard.

Another issue is the future supply risk. Any power plant envisaged today will need uranium in 40 years from now. But both Russia and Kazachstan, the two biggest uranium exporters to the EU have plans to build new nuclear power plants for themselves. Kazachstan has gone from zero to hero: in 20 years it went from no production to supplying 40% of the world’s uranium. But aside from their own future needs, and those of nearby befriended Russia, analysts fear that mismanagement is likely to lead to a collapse in exports…………http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987988/uranium_from_russia_with_love.html

August 5, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, UK, Uranium | Leave a comment

UK-Australian and French uranium companies polluting the “unpolluted” African States

uranium-oreUranium from Russia, with love, Ecologist, Nick Meynen 4th August, 2016

“………..the bigger issue should be that uranium mining is just a very dirty business that we didn’t clean up but source out. France used to have 200+ uranium mines but thanks to better care for environment and workers the last one closed in 2001. Instead, new ones were opened in places like NigerNamibia and Malawi. In short: places where we can shift the real costs from uranium mining to the people and environment. As a matter of fact, CEOs in the business are quite frank about that. The former CEO of Paladin, John Borshoff, an Australian uranium producer who opened mines in Namibia, said that Canadian and Australian environmental norms are “over-sophisticated“. What he actually means is that in African countries you don’t need to pay much or anything at all to “protect” either your workers or the people living in the vicinity from dying from cancer due to exposure to uranium.

He’s just implementing the Lawrence Summers Principle. This ‘principle’ originates from a 1991 memo written or dictated by Summers whilst he was the World Bank’s chief economist. In this memo, he promoted dumping toxic waste in the Third World for economic reasons: “Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries]? […] A given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.”

The uranium sector squared up to that. But for how much longer will it get away with that?

Last time rebels in Mali came too close to the AREVA mines in Niger for comfort, France suddenly sent in their army. Under some humanitarian pretext. And if rebels don’t succeed in capturing these remote mines, the global environmental justice movement might just succeed in closing a couple of them down.

The legacy from uranium mining

Being part of that movement, I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of making a toxic tour around a now closed uranium mine in Bulgaria. Massive amounts of toxic sludge were stored behind a weak dam that showed signs of distress after heavy rains caused a spill in 2009. Old EU money was still keeping the dam up but as we’re talking about radioactive waste, money will need to keep flowing to dam repairs for millennia to come.

Since 1992, when the mines closed, and for time immemorial, that will be public money. And that’s how it goes with uranium mines in places with weak or no legislation: short-term private profits followed by perpetual public losses. In Bulgaria the people are still lucky enough to be in the EU with at least some environmental regulations and EU money for environmental protections. The same goes for other EU countries like France, which has dozens of zombie mines: dead but still active. The US also has plenty more zombie mines. The lands of the Navajo Nation include over 500 abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) as well as homes and drinking water sources with elevated levels of radiation. Despite the fact that they stopped operating in 1986, new and related lung cancers, bone cancers and impaired kidney functions keep appearing.

But while EU and US now have enough safeguards to keep their own uranium safe under the ground, there’s nothing of that in Namibia or Niger. These two countries are rising players on the uranium market, both exporting their uranium to the EU. Niger has now produced more uranium than France ever did in it’s whole history. It’s here that UK-Australian and French companies are doing the dirty digging that destroys local environment and populace.

Three reports from the EU-funded EJOLT project deal with the environmental and social issues related to uranium mining. One deals with the impacts, one concentrates on a mine in Malawi and the third dwells on the examples of successful resistance to big mining in general.

Bruno Chareyron, a French nuclear engineer who authored most of these reports, has been carrying out toxic tours along uranium mines for the last two decades. That’s not always an easy job, with for example the police confiscating most of your measuring equipment upon arrival in Niger. Nevertheless, Bruno was able to measure that radioactive scrap metal from the mines and mills is sold on the market. Waste rocks from the mines were used to pave roads, build homes and even at the local hospital where the radiation was 100 times above normal. Piles of radioactive waste were left in open air, unprotected, next to two cities with a total population of 120.000.

The missing piece of the puzzle

Where is uranium in the whole debate about nuclear energy? It’s usually only mentioned when the industry says: uranium is only a tiny part of the total cost of our energy model, unlike the situation in the gas and oil industry.

Well, there’s a reason why it’s only a tiny part of the total cost and it’s called cost shifting.

Ecological economists have given names to processes witnessed in the uranium sector:accumulation by contaminationecologically unequal exchange and ecological debt. More and more, people all over the world are coming together to resist against environmental justice.

Our EU and US based nuclear power is currently coming at the cost of poisoning people in Africa. But it begs the question: are we ready to face that reality?

This Author:

Nick Meynen is one of The Ecologist New Voices contributors. He writes blogs and bookshttp://www.epo.be/uitgeverij/boekinfo_auteur.php?isbn=9789064455803 on topics like environmental justice, globalization and human-nature relationships.

When not wandering in the activist universe or his Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/nick.meynen
is dead, he’s probably walking in nature.   

@nickmeynen   http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2987988/uranium_from_russia_with_love.html

August 5, 2016 Posted by | environment, Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, politics international, Reference, Uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium industry faces an ever bleaker future

The price of uranium has slumped to $25 a pound, its lowest level since April 2005.

It is the worst-performing mined commodity this year. Other natural resources such as copper, coal and iron ore have gained year to date.

 There is plenty to fret about….
Residents across Japan are seeking court injunctions to prevent restarts

burial.uranium-industryJapan Nuclear-Power Jitters Weigh on Global Uranium Market Antinuclear sentiment in Japan, weak U.S. demand, rising Chinese stockpiles depress price of nuclear fuel   http://www.wsj.com/articles/japan-nuclear-power-jitters-weigh-on-global-uranium-market-1469990663    By RHIANNON HOYLE and MAYUMI NEGISHI July 31, 2016

Five years ago, meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan sparked what would become a prolonged slide in prices for uranium nuclear fuel. Today, the world’s worst nuclear disaster in a quarter-century is depressing prices again.

Antinuclear sentiment is gaining momentum in Japan with the election three weeks ago of an antinuclear governor in the only Japanese prefecture with an operating nuclear-power plant, and the likelihood that a court injunction will halt the next reactor slated to go online in August.

Japan was once the world’s No. 3 nuclear-power generator, behind the U.S. and France. The slump in the uranium market is being exacerbated by weak demand from the U.S. and plentiful uranium supplies in China, an emerging nuclear-power producer.

The price of uranium has slumped to $25 a pound, its lowest level since April 2005, according to the Ux Consulting Co., a nuclear-fuel research firmthat publishes weekly market prices. The fuel’s value is down 27% since the start of this year and is a fraction of the $136 a pound it traded for at its 2007 peak.

It is the worst-performing mined commodity this year. Other natural resources such as copper, coal and iron ore have gained year to date.

 There is plenty to fret about. In the U.S., a market awash with cheap natural gas, nuclear reactors have been closing. A few years ago, France said it would start reducing its reliance on atomic energy. China, while rolling out a broad expansion of its nuclear fleet, has built up inventories of uranium that could last more than a decade.

Continue reading

August 1, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

Below Cost of Production- sad plight of the uranium industry

radiation-sign-sadUranium Prices Remain Below Cost of Production, Recovery is Years Away, Economic Calendar, Donald Levit, July 27, 2016 Uranium prices continue to hover at an eleven-year low, with the commodity’s collapse to the price weeks ago failing to inspire any renewed buying interest, and according to a recent forecast from UBS, a turnaround in the market could be years off.

UBS analysts recently revised their average spot uranium prices for the years ahead, and all of these revisions were downward. For 2016 the forecast is now $30/lb. down from $37/lb., for 2017 they cut the forecast to $32/ lb. from $55/lb., for 2018 to $42/lb. from $60/ lb.,and for 2019 to $55/lb. from $60.

The reason behind the languishing prices, and why UBS expects the tough times to continue, is that fact that Japanese reactor restarts have been much slower than expected, while the pace of nuclear expansion across the globe has also disappointed…….http://www.economiccalendar.com/2016/07/27/uranium-prices-remain-below-cost-of-production-recovery-is-years-away/

August 1, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

Things are crook, very crook, for the uranium industry

Uranium spot prices descend beyond decade low
 The descending uranium price has put global producers under pressure. by Tess  Ingram Uranium spot prices are still likely to stage a rapid recovery on the back of improving demand, industry analysts and executives argue, despite a persistent supply glut driving prices to a largely unanticipated 11-year low.

burial.uranium-industry

Spot prices for uranium oxide, which is used mainly as fuel for nuclear reactors, crept below $US27 ($36) a pound in June for the first time since mid-2005.

The current levels are lower than when prices were sent spiralling after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  After hitting over $US130 a pound in 2007, prices had stabilised to about $US70 a pound at the beginning of 2011 before Fukushima sent them gradually declining to a low of $US28 a pound in May 2014. Prices increased in 2015 but have since slumped about 21 per cent year-to-date.

Argonaut analyst Matthew Keane said prices had persisted “a lot lower than a lot of people expected” and forecasts for the timing of an anticipated supply deficit needed to improve prices “keep getting kicked along”.

“We just haven’t got the reactors online and even though the Chinese build program is very aggressive, we haven’t caught up and really sucked away the inventory yet,” Mr Keane said. “The US and Europe are still sitting on adequate stockpiles.”…… http://www.afr.com/business/mining/uranium/uranium-spot-prices-descend-beyond-decade-low-20160705-gpyupv

July 6, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Reference, Uranium | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons risk could spread if laser uranium enrichment technology is adopted

Laser uranium enrichment technology may create new proliferation risks, Science Daily,  June 27, 2016

Source:
Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Summary:
A new laser-based uranium enrichment technology may provide a hard-to-detect pathway to nuclear weapons production, according to a forthcoming paper.
A new laser-based uranium enrichment technology may provide a hard-to-detect pathway to nuclear weapons production, according to a forthcoming paper in the journalScience & Global Security by Ryan Snyder, a physicist with Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.
One example of this new third-generation laser enrichment technique may be the separation of isotopes by laser excitation (SILEX) process which was originally developed in Australia and licensed in 2012 for commercial-scale deployment in the United States to the Global Laser Enrichment consortium led by General Electric-Hitachi. Research on the relevant laser systems is also currently ongoing in Russia, India and China.

The paper explains the basic physics of the new uranium separation concept, which relies on the selective laser excitation and condensation repression of uranium-235 in a gas. It also estimates the key laser performance requirements and possible operating parameters for a single enrichment unit and how a cascade of such units could be arranged into an enrichment plant able to produce weapon-grade highly enriched uranium.

Using plausible assumptions, the paper shows how a covert laser enrichment plant sized to make one bomb’s worth of weapon-grade material a year could use less space and energy than a similar scale plant based on almost all current centrifuge designs, the most efficient enrichment technology in use today. The results suggest a direct impact on detection methods that use size or energy use as plant footprints……..https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160627160941.htm

June 29, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, technology, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Uranium industry finally acknowledging its dire situation

Uranium on the rocks http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18236&page=0

burial NUCLEAR INDUSTRY

By Jim Green , 17 May 2016 Indicative of the uranium industry’s worldwide malaise, mining giant Cameco recently announced the suspension of production at Rabbit Lake and reduced production at McArthur River/Key Lake in Canada. Cameco is also curtailing production at its two U.S. uranium mines. About 500 jobs will be lost at Rabbit Lake and 85 at the U.S. mines. A Cameco statement said that “with today’s oversupplied market and uncertainty as to how long these market conditions will persist, we need to focus our resources on our lowest cost assets and maintain a strong balance sheet.”Christopher Ecclestone, mining strategist at Hallgarten & Company, offered this glum assessment of the uranium market: “The long-held theory during the prolonged mining sector slump was that Uranium as an energy metal could potentially break away irrespective of the rest of the metals space. How true they were, but not in the way they intended, for just as the mining space has broken out of its swoon the Uranium price has not only been left behind but has gone into reverse. This is truly dismaying for the trigger for a uranium rebound was supposed to be the Japanese nuclear restart and yet it has had zero effect and indeed maybe has somehow (though the logic escapes us) resulted in a lower price.”Ecclestone adds that uranium has “made fools and liars of many in recent years, including ourselves” and that “uranium bulls know how Moses felt when he was destined to wander forty years in the desert and never get to see the Promised Land.” He states that uranium exploration “is for the birds” because “the market won’t fund it and investors won’t give credit for whatever you find”.

The Minerals Council of Australia launched a pro-uranium social media campaign last month. The twitter hashtag #untappedpotential was soon trending but – as an AAP piece noted – contributors were overwhelmingly critical. No doubt the Minerals Council anticipated the negative publicity but what it didn’t anticipate is the uranium price falling to an 11-year low. Mining.com noted in an April 20 article that the current low price hasn’t been seen since May 2005. The current price, under US26/lb, is well under half the price just before the 2011 Fukushima disaster, and under one-fifth of the 2007 peak of a bubble.

Mining.com quotes a Haywood Securities research note which points out that the spot uranium price “saw three years of back-to-back double-digit percentage losses from 2011-13, but none worse than what we’ve seen thus far in 2016, and at no point since Fukushima, did the average weekly spot price dip below $28 a pound.” Haywood Securities notes that an over-supplied market continues to inflate global inventories.

Mining.comnotes that five years after the Fukushima disaster, only two of Japan’s nuclear reactors are back online (and yet another permanent reactor closure was announced on May 15), and that in other developed markets nuclear power is also in retreat. The last reactor start-up in the U.S. was 20 years ago. The French Parliament legislated last year to reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear power by one-third. Germany is phasing out nuclear power, as are several other countries. The European Commission recently released a report predicting that the EU’s nuclear power retreat ‒ down 14% over the past decade ‒ will continue.

China is a growth market but has amassed a “staggering” stockpile of yellowcake according to Macquarie Bank. India’s nuclear power program is in a “deep freeze” according to the Hindustan Times (unfortunately the same cannot be said about its nuclear weapons program), while India’s energy minister Piyush Goyal said on April 20 that India is not in a “tearing hurry” to expand nuclear power since there are unresolved questions about cost, safety and liability waivers sought by foreign companies.

A decision on two planned reactors in the UK could be announced in the near future and the cost – A$48 billion for the two reactors – goes a long way to explaining nuclear power’s worldwide stagnation. If the project proceeds, the industry will be hoping it doesn’t go three times over budget and lag 5-9 years behind schedule, as reactor projects in France and Finland have.

Even if all of Japan’s 42 reactors are included in the count, the number of power reactors operating worldwide is the same now as it was a decade ago. And there is little likelihood that nuclear power will break out of its long stagnation in the foreseeable future, with the ageing of the global reactor fleet a growing problem for the industry. As former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd noted earlier this year: “The future is likely to repeat the experience of 2015 when 10 new reactors came into operation worldwide but 8 shut down. So as things stand, the industry is essentially running to stand still.”

Australia’s uranium industry is also struggling just to stand still. The industry accounts for just 0.2 percent of national export revenue and less than 0.01 percent of all jobs in Australia. Those underwhelming figures are likely to become even less whelming with the end of mining and the winding down of processing at the Ranger mine in the NT.

May 18, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, Reference, Uranium | Leave a comment

Cameco cuts back on mining uranium, as market stays slumped

burial.uranium-industryCameco scales back uranium production, WNN, 22 Apr 16Cameco is suspending production at the Rabbit Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan, curtailing production at its US uranium operations, and reducing production at McArthur River/Key Lake in response to market conditions, the company announced yesterday.

Work to transition the underground Rabbit Lake mine to care and maintenance will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by the end of August. Production at the US in situ leach operations cannot cease immediately because of the nature of the technology, and will instead decrease over time as head grades decline. The development of new wellfields will be deferred.

“Unfortunately, continued depressed market conditions do not support the operating and capital costs needed to sustain production at Rabbit Lake and the US operations,” CEO Tim Gitzel said. “These measures will allow us to continue delivering value to Cameco’s many stakeholders and support the long-term health of our company. We will provide assistance to those affected by these decisions,” he said……

The company will also reduce 2016 production at the McArthur River/Key Lake operation in Saskatchewan to 19 million pounds U3O8 (7308 tU), down from 20 million pounds (7693 tU), in response to a currently oversupplied uranium market…….http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/UF-Cameco-scales-back-uranium-production-2204167.html

May 6, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium market continues its relentless downward plunge

cliff-money-nuclearUranium market is getting crushed Uranium price falls to lowest since May 2005 as bearishness overwhelms the sector, Mining.com 20 Apr 16   Iron ore is on an insane run, copper’s dug itself out of January’s seven-year trough, tin and zinc are in bull markets, coking coal is heading for triple digits and crude’s holding onto 60% gains since February’s low despite the Doha disaster.

Uranium?

It’s having the worst start to a year in a decade. U3O8 is down more than 25% in 2016 with the UxC broker average price sliding to $25.69 a pound on Friday. That’s the cheapest uranium has been since May 2, 2005.

Haywood Securities in a  research note points out that the spot U3O8 price “saw three years of back-to-back double-digit percentage losses from 2011-13, but none worse than what we’ve seen thus far in 2016, and at no point since Fukushima, did the average weekly spot price dip below $28 a pound.” The long term price, where most uranium business is conducted, is languishing at around $44 a pound.

Uranium was actually the best performing commodity in 2015 by virtue of having declined in value only slightly over the course of the year. So what’s happening?

Vancouver-based Haywood attributes the decline to “a dearth of non-discretionary buying from utilities combined with an over-supplied market which continues to inflate global inventories, partially attributable to the continued shutdown of Japanese reactors and the ramp-up of production at selected uranium mines including Cigar Lake.”

Five years after the Japanese disaster only two of the country’s 50 nuclear reactors are back on line.  In other developed markets nuclear power is also in retreat.

Top user France which relies on its 58 plants for more than three-quarters of its electricity needs, has begun a program to reduce that figure to 50%.   Problems with next-generation plants developed by French state utility EDF and top supplier Areva are well-documented. Germany is phasing out the technology and the last new nuclear power station to enter service in the US was 20 years ago…….

Stockpiles at utilities were estimated at an already elevated 217,ooo tonnes uranium at the end of 2014. That translates into more than three years’ worth of feedstock for the world’s installed nuclear power capacity.

Special arrangements like top producer Kazakhstan’s uranium-sovereign debt deal with China leave little room for non-state players. ….http://www.mining.com/uranium-market-getting-crushed/

April 22, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

15,000 Abandoned Uranium Mines – Dirty, Deadly Front End of Nuclear Power —

The Dirty, Deadly Front End of Nuclear Power — 15,000 Abandoned Uranium Mines    Truth Out Friday, 11 March 2016 00:00By Josh Cunnings and Emerson UrryEnviroNews | Video Report Editor’s Note: The following news piece represents the first in a 15-part mini-series titled, Nuclear Power in Our World Today, featuring nuclear authority, engineer and whistleblower Arnie Gundersen. The EnviroNews USA series encompasses a wide span of topics, ranging from Manhattan-era madness to the continuously-unfolding crisis on the ground at Fukushima Daiichi in eastern Japan. The transcript follows the video below:

TRANSCRIPT:

Josh Cunnings (Narrator): Welcome to the EnviroNews USA news desk. I’m your host Josh Cunnings. In this first episode of a unique 15-part mini-series of short-films, we are going to explore Nuclear Power in Our World Today.

Our journey extends outward from a bombshell interview conducted by EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry, with the esteemed nuclear expert, whistleblower, and expert witness Arnie Gundersen. Gundersen is a nuclear engineer, as well as a former power plant operator, and trade executive, whose own life, for a good amount of time, was ruined by the nuclear industry after he exposed radioactive safety violations. So to get this series rolling, here’s what Gundersen revealed to Emerson Urry……..

The educational short serious we’re about to bring you spans a plethora of nuclear-related topics, but maintains a special focus on the myriad nuclear problems still festering right here in the US In this series, we will also explore with Gundersen, critical and downright disturbing details from the ongoing, ever-unfolding, nuclear crisis at Fukushima Daiichi in eastern Japan.

Some of the segments in this series are very short and feature raw interview excerpts, while in other episodes we dive deeper into the content discussed between Gundersen and Urry.

But before going around the world to talk about the incredible state of despair, still palpable on the ground in Japan, we’re going to start this series right here on US soil — at the beginning where all nuclear complexities commence — we begin with the aftermath from the mining and extraction of the naturally occurring radioactive element uranium — a mineral with a four-and-a-half-billion-year half-life that presents very little harm when safely sequestered in the earth — but all that changes when it’s mined and brought to the surface……….

While for many years nuclear power rode under the guise of the so-called “peaceful atom,” the industry has been chastised for being a friendly cover for the bomb fuel business……….

In the 40s and 50s, America was pillaging uranium out of the earth as fast and furiously as possibly in a rush for both electricity and bombs — but it turns out that many of those mining messes weren’t cleaned up very well — if at all.

The perplexing problem of these open, deadly, toxic messes was discussed between Urry and Gundersen. Take a listen.

To our understanding there are about 15,000 abandoned uranium mines that have been left in complete ruin with very little cleanup or remediation at all, just in the western United States. This has happened, by-and-large, because of an antiquated mining bill — the 1872 Mining Bill — still affecting these situations today — that kind of allowed miners to just walk away from these situations — but yet, they remain in the open leaching off tailings — blowing around radioactive dust. I think there’s about 4,500 of these exposed mining sites just in Navajo country — another 2,500 or so in Wyoming. How do we deal with that situation? What does the future hold in those regards, and quite frankly, are we all being poisoned by these mines?…..

Gundersen: The way our system is set up is that you take the profit early, and then when everything is done you walk away and the government takes the risk. So, we’ve socialized the risk, and the capitalists make the profit early on and the rest of us pick up the cost afterward. And that’s historically true on the Navajo reservation especially — but you get in the Black Hills and the Lakota Sioux… We had a member of our board go out to South Dakota and sample a dried riverbed, and the bottom of the riverbed had as much uranium in it as a mine — from runoff from uphill mines. We have a legacy that we’re really not admitting exists. Thousands and thousands of these mines — mainly on the Native American property, but not entirely………

Charmaine White Face (excerpt from Defenders of the Black Hills video): Dr. Lilias Jarding in her research that she completed in 2010 calledUranium Activities’ Impacts on Lakota Territory talked about, not only what was happening on the Northern Great Plains, but also in Colorado. All of these are abandoned open-pit uranium mines. 397 in Montana, 2103 in Wyoming, 113 in North Dakota, 272 in South Dakota, and 387 in northern Colorado, for a total of 3272………

Dr. Kearfott with her students came out and started doing some readings in our treaty territory, and this is what they found: “The radiation levels in parts I visited with my students were higher than those in the evacuated zones around the Fukushima nuclear disaster.” Higher. Fukushima radiation levels were higher than Chernobyl. The Northern Great Plains’ levels are higher than Fukushima — and these are not from nuclear power plants or from an atomic weapon, or atomic bomb being exploded. These are from 2,885 abandoned open-pit uranium mines and prospects, and we are subject to that radioactive pollution constantly. We, the people of the Great Sioux Nation, we are the miner’s canary. We are the miner’s canary for the rest of the United States. We have the highest cancer rates now. We never gave permission for uranium mining to occur in our treaty territory. It’s not just the nuclear power plants that people have to be afraif. All of these abandoned open-pit uranium mines in the Northern Great Plains are affecting everyone, but they are genocide for the Great Sioux Nation — for my people. This is genocide……….

Tune in tomorrow for the second part of fifteen in this EnviroNews special — Nuclear Power in Our World Today. For EnviroNews USA — Josh Cunnings.   http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35179-nuclear-power-in-our-world-today

March 12, 2016 Posted by | environment, Uranium | Leave a comment

Strong opposition to uranium mining in Kuannersuaq, Greenland

We are strongly opposed to plans to exploit minerals with uranium reserves at Kuannersuaq, Narsaq http://arcticjournal.com/press-releases/2204/we-are-strongly-opposed-plans-exploit-minerals-uranium-reserves-kuannersuaq   We are strongly opposed to plans to exploit minerals with uranium reserves at Kuannersuaq, Eric Jensen, Nuka David SørensenMarch 9, 2016  By The Arctic Journal Information to citizens concerning the plans for exploitation of mineral deposits with uranium and exploitation of uranimium by Kuannersuaq at Narsaq is not sufficient and we demand that there should be a referendum on the plans for exploitation of mineral resources with uranium content. Therefore we require that plans for exploitation of mineral resources with uranium content and exploitation of uranium and all the decisions concerning these must be stopped.

By requiring that plans for exploitation of mineral resources with uranium content and exploitation of uranmium by Kuannersuaq at Narsaq temporarily stopped, we have begun planning of demonstrations against these plans on April 8, 2016, from 12:00 in the towns of Narsaq, Qaqortoq, Nuuk, Tasiilaq , Ilulissat, Qeqertarsuaq and in the settlements Qassiarsuk and Narsarsuaq. We have the following arguments against the plans for the exploitation of mineral resources with uranium content and exploitation of uranium:

  • No sufficient information has been submitted regarding the potential impacts on people, the environment and wildlife, if an open mine is to be opened at Kuannersuaq;
  • Citizens are not informed with clear information printed in Greenlandic concerning the plans for the exploitation of mineral resources containing uranium and exploitation of uranium.

We require the following information from the Greenland Government on plans for use of mineral resources from Kuannersuit:

1. What impacts can an open pit mine on the top of Kunnersuaq have on people’s health and the environment?

2. How can dust with different radioactive substances from the exploitation of raw materials from the mountain all year round be avoided?

3. What plans are there to ensure that waste from the mine to be thrown in the lake does not pollute the environment?

4. What can the waste from the mine placed into the lake have of impacts?

5. Is there sufficient space to the amount of waste in the lake?

6. According to the latest survey, only very small amounts of uranium, how credible are these compared to Risø’s studies?

7. How will you ensure the credibility of the EIA report as yet been presented publicly?

8. How ready is Greenland to store waste / tailings containing uranium mining and exploitation for many years without polluting?

9. There are not taken into account the next coming generations who will inherit it all?

Everybody is welcome to participate in the demonstrations on April 8 from pm. 12:00 at the following towns Narsaq, Qaqortoq, Nuuk, Tasiilaq, Ilulissat, Qeqertarsuaq, Qassiarsuk, Narsarsuaq and possible. Elsewhere.

March 11, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, opposition to nuclear, Uranium | Leave a comment

South Africa: CORRUPTION GOES NUCLEAR – Jacob Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians

13a47-corruptionflag-S.Africa

Zuma’s 9 600MW nuclear procurement programme and its accompanying contracts are tainted with alleged vested interests of the most deplorable kind.
If the country has any hope of having a rational, legal, and transparent evaluation of the need for nuclear energy, the procurement process has to start afresh.
This however can only occur under new leadership, which places the country’s interests ahead of its own.

If this does not occur, the future of South Africa will consist of a dark and discontented nuclear winter.

Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians — the inside story
Part 1: In pursuit of satisfying his insatiable greed — Jacob Zuma will liberate us from our constitutional democracy, and destroy the chance of a ‘better life for all’ 
Zuma, the Guptas and the Russians — the inside story RAND DAILY MAIL LILY GOSAM 02 FEBRUARY 2016

“……..PART 1: CORRUPTION GOES NUCLEAR

I wish to make it clear from the outset that this piece is not about arguing the merits or demerits of nuclear energy. It is whether Zuma’s decision for nuclear energy is based on sound economic principles for the good of the country, or for some other purpose.

Zuma’s (rabid) pet project

On 9 of December 2015 (and hours before Nene was fired), Zuma’s cabinet approved the 9 600 MW nuclear procurement programme (nuclear programme). This paves the way for nuclear vendors to present proposals in March 2016 to build 6 to 8 nuclear reactors, at an estimated cost of between R800-billion and R1.6-trillion ($50-billion to $100 billion)[5] [6] [7.

The nuclear programme, however, glows with controversy. According to Peter Attard Montalto (an emerging market economist at Nomura), the nuclear programme is Zuma’s “pet project”, and is highly interwoven with politics and the succession issue[8]. His analysis is supported by a Mail and Guardian [M&G] source who said that the programme was regarded as one of Zuma’s “presidential legacy projects” [9]. Professor William Gumede, of Democracy Works, added that the programme is being implemented essentially from a purely patronage point of view[10]. While Andrew Feinstein, executive director of Corruption Watch UK (and former ANC MP), said simply, “I fear that the corruption in this deal might dwarf the arms deal” (News24)[11].

A nuclear procurement process in a constitutional democracy should be transparent, logical, considered, legal, participatory, and unbiased.

Yet Zuma has assumed personal control of the nuclear programme, and it has been characterised by: secret meetings; undisclosed documents and classified financial reports; deceit; aggressive campaigning; damage control exercises; illegality; use of apartheid (‘national key-point’) legislation[12]; sidestepping of Eskom’s technical and financial oversight; destruction of oversight organs of state; disregarding of industry experts; refusal of public consultation; ignoring of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) and ANC resolutions; and the removal of any government opponents, the most notable of whom was Nene…………

Below exposes the reasons why Zuma is so hell bent on forcing the Russian 9 600 MW programme through, irrespective of: the evidence against it (from independent and government sources); the laws that stand in his way; the people that advise against it; and the grave concerns of his own party.

Radioactive plant-feed

Nuclear reactors require uranium to function, in particular low-enriched uranium (LEU). But first one must mine the uranium, and for South Africa’s 9 600MW nuclear programme, plus the existing Koeberg Nuclear Plant, the demand for uranium would steadily increase as the nuclear power plants come online. Luckily South Africa is said to have 6% of global identified resources of uranium (or 970 000 tons), the seventh highest share in the world [OECD-NEA, 2013][62].

With a 9 600MW nuclear deal, local uranium reactor demand would grow from the current 290 tons of Uranium (Ut) per year, to eventually 3300 Ut per year, once all the reactors are operational [OECD- Nuclear Energy Agency, 2014][63]. That’s a dramatic 11 times increase in local demand for uranium.

And as it just so happens, in 2010 the Guptas (a family well-known for their backing of Zuma), along with Zuma’s son, Duduzane, emerged as buyers of a South African uranium mine — the Dominion Rietkuil Uranium Project — amid claims that Zuma intervened to ease state funding for the project (according to amaBhungane – M&G’s investigative arm)[64].

[For summaries of the Guptas’ influence with Zuma and his family, read Verashni Pillay’s 2013 M&G article, or Franz Wild’s 2015 Bloomberg article. There are also excellent standalone articles on the Guptas dealings with the state, such as the Sunday Times piece by Sabelo Skiti on how Eskom allegedly went to extraordinary lengths to make sure the Gupta family landed a R4-billion coal deal, or M&G’s amaBhungane articles on a former Gupta associate allegedly involved in R835-million Transnet kickbacks]

All mine

Uranium One Incorporated (Uranium One) — a public company in Canada — owned a number of uranium mines around the world, including a uranium and gold mine in the North West province, South Africa[65] [66]. The local mine was called the Dominion Rietkuil Uranium project, which proved to be a disappointment to the company and so it was mothballed in late 2008.

Uranium One’s global uranium holdings attracted the attention of Rosatom, which from 2009 onwards began buying up the company’s shares through one of its many wholly-owned subsidiaries. (Rosatom would eventually indirectly secure 51% ownership of Uranium One in 2010, and 100% in 2013, after which it was delisted[67])[68].

As Rosatom (through its subsidiary) was buying into Uranium One, the company sold the South African Dominion Rietkuil Uranium project. Reporters picked up on Uranium One’s “low-key announcement” in April 2010 of the sale of the mine to an undisclosed party[69] [70]. The mine was sold for $37.3-million, at a loss to the company of $242-million (based on the company’s interim financial statements)[71]. Thus the mine was sold for about 14% of its reported value.

One month later, in May 2010, the media got wind that the mine — which would come to be known as Shiva Uranium — was bought by Oakbay Resources and Energy Limited (a Gupta-controlled company) together with minority shareholders, which consist of companies within companies (like a Russian nesting doll), including indirectly the ANC’s MK war veterans and its women’s group[72], and the black economic empowerment group Mabengela Investments (Mabengela).

Mabengela is headed by Zuma’s son Duduzane and Rajesh “Tony” Gupta (the youngest of three Gupta brothers). 45% of Mabengela is owned by Duduzane Zuma; 25% by Rajesh “Tony” Gupta (the youngest of the three Gupta brothers); 20% by an array of Gupta employees, former business partners and friends; and the last 10% is owned by an obscure offshore company, with its sole owner a Dubai resident with discernible traces in South Africa[73] [M&G]. The M&G wrote that Mabengela appears to be the vehicle for the Zuma family’s empowerment by the Gupta family[74].

(The North West province — where the mine is situated — is governed by Supra Mahumapelo, the province’s premier, and he is said to be a member of the so-called “premier league”, which consists of premiers loyal to Zuma. The other premier-league provinces are the Free State and Mpumalanga[75]. For the 2014/15 period, the auditor-general found the number of “clean audits” — that is, financial statements that present a fair and accurate picture and comply with accepted accounting principles — for the departments and public entities in Mpumalanga and the North West came to 24% and 4% respectively, while 32% of the Free State’s audits were deemed clean[76] [77]. This excludes financial statements by departments not submitted on time, or at all[78].

amaBhungane and the Sunday Times uncovered that the Guptas had expected the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to facilitate funding for the Uranium mine purchase. (The state-owned PIC is the country’s largest institutional investor, with more than R750-billion — as at 2010 – in civil servants’ pensions under its management[79]).

……….At the time of the purchase of the Dominion Rietkuil Uranium mine, journalist Brendan Ryan [Fin24] pondered, “Who in their right mind would buy one of the most notorious dogs in the entire South African mining sector — the failed Dominion Uranium mine — and do it at a time when uranium prices are still depressed? That’s the $64 000 question following news that the Gupta family — the ultimate controlling shareholder in Shiva Uranium — has bought Dominion for $37.3-million. It’s either the steal of the century — given that developers Uranium One wrote off an investment of $1.8-billion when they shut Dominion down in October 2008 — or it’s a classic case of throwing good money after bad.”[93]

Unbeknownst to Ryan, at the time, was that Zuma and his benefactors had set the course for a large-scale nuclear programme.

Atomic timeline: 2000 to 2010

In the early 2000’s, Zuma — then South African deputy president — met the Guptas for the first time, as a guest at a business function held by a Gupta company, Sahara Computers[94].

In 2005, during the power struggle between Zuma and Thabo Mbeki for the presidency, the Guptas were said to have sided with Zuma, even after he had been fired as deputy president. The Guptas had tried to court Mbeki, but did not get far. (The Guptas claim that they were friends with Mbeki as much as they are friends with Zuma). The Guptas don’t mind telling whoever cares to listen that they were there for Zuma when his days were dark [Business Day][95].

Early in 2007, Eskom approved a plan to expand South Africa’s overall electricity capacity by the year 2025. The plan included the construction of 20 000 MW of new nuclear capacity, consisting of up to 12 nuclear reactors. France’s Areva and the United States’ Westinghouse were contenders[96].

In December 2007, Zuma was elected as ANC president[97].

Six month’s later, in June 2008, Duduzile and Duduzane, Zuma’s daughter and son joined the board of the Gupta-controlled company, Sahara Computers[98] [99]. (Duduzile resigned from the position in 2010[100]. Duduzane and Gupta family members are directors of at least 11 of the same companies, as at December 2015 [Timeslive][101].)

In September 2008, Mbeki resigned as South African president.

In December 2008, Eskom abandoned the 20 000MW nuclear plan for being unaffordable in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis and the renewed appreciation for coal production[102] [103] [104][Professor J. van Wyk of Political Sciences]

Zuma was inaugurated as South African president in May 2009. In November 2009, the Guptas’ formed a new company, which would come to be known as Oakbay Resources and Energy Limited[105](Oakbay).

One month later, in December 2009, Zuma declared at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen that South Africa was going to reduce its carbon emissions by 34% by 2020[106]. His announcement took both local and international commentators by surprise, but it revealed Zuma’s nuclear ambitions.

Four months after that, in April 2010, the Guptas, Duduzane Zuma, and other investors bought the mine — soon to be called Shiva Uranium — with Zuma allegedly ensuring state assistance. The Guptas and Duduzane then jumped into action, refurbishing the uranium and gold plant “very aggressively”[107] to make the plant operational for production. They also possessed due diligence studies and a comprehensive bankable feasibility study (a document required to raise capital)[108] [109]……..

In August 2010, Zuma met with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, during his first official visit to Russia. Zuma was accompanied by 11 cabinet ministers and more than 100 South African business people[112].

During the trip, Zuma concluded a deal with Medvedev for Rosatom to supply 40% of Koeberg’s enriched uranium needs until 2017 to 2018[113] [114]. The Head of Rosatom told reporters that the company hoped to eventually control 45% of the low-enriched uranium (LEU) market in South Africa[115].”Our share of the market in South Africa will rise,” he said…………….

Gupta and Gupta-linked companies involved in mining – including Shiva Uranium – have several times run into trouble with regulatory requirements, as well as those on environmental compliance[226] [227][TimesLive]. Due to changes in environmental and mining legislation, Zwane is in charge of enforcing those regulations[228] [229]………..

South Africa has become one of the leading destinations for renewable energy investment, so said a 2015 research report by the Energy Research Centre UCT. The Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Project (REIPPP) is a joint private-public initiative for renewable energy generation, mainly from wind, solar PV and concentrated solar power. Since its inception, the REIPPP has been hailed an unprecedented success. The programme is unique in that for projects to qualify, developers must contribute to the reduction of socio-economic inequity, through community ownership and economic development benefits[237].

As of October 2015, 92 projects had been selected as part of the REIPPP, mobilising private investment of R193-billion, and with a combined capacity of 6 327MW. In addition, 37 out of the 92 projects had been completed by then and they contributed 1 827MW of power to the national electricity grid (this is equivalent to one Koeberg nuclear power station), while also providing social upliftment[238] [239] [240][241]. In June 2015, the energy department issued a determination to procure a further 6 300 MW for the project[242]. The national treasury expected the REIPPP to eventually contribute 17 000 MW of electricity capacity to the grid by 2022[243].

Yet, in October 2015, just when bidding by renewable power producers was set to start for the additional capacity[244], Brian Molefe — now CEO of Eskom — halted the process, with the non-issuance of budget quotes for the programme. He said it was a temporary measure taken to protect the financial sustainability of Eskom. Effectively, he was saying Eskom could not afford to support new REIPPP connections as well as energy purchases. He added that, “very soon a lasting solution will be found to address this matter” [Fin24][245] [246] [247]. (As of writing, no reports on Eskom’s future commitment to the REIPPP could be located.)

On Wednesday, 9 of December 2015, Zuma held a cabinet meeting to discuss key government programmes and decisions. Amongst them was the nuclear procurement programme for 9 600 MW, which was then approved by cabinet (but excluded the then Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Gordhan, who was off sick) [Carol Paton of Business Day uncovered cabinet’s decision][248].

Just hours after the meeting, and to the cabinet’s great consternation and surprise (according to Jeff Radebe, who is a cabinet member, an ANC NEC member, and minister of the presidency)[249], they heard along with the rest of the public that Zuma had fired Nene, and replaced him with a parliamentary backbencher, David van Rooyen. The move was met with shock and disbelief in all sectors at home and abroad[250].

Two days later, on Friday, 11 of December 2015, the post-cabinet media briefing by Radebe and accompanying press statement made no mention of the fact that the 9 600MW nuclear deal had been approved[251] [252] [253]. It was only on Monday, 14 December 2015, after Gordhan had taken the helm of treasury that cabinet’s decision was publically confirmed by him.

Uranium enrichment

“Global uranium demand is predominantly driven by its use in nuclear power generation plants,”[254]declared Oakbay, the majority shareholder in Shiva Uranium. But uranium cannot be used as fuel to run nuclear reactors until it has been converted into low enriched uranium (LEU)[255] [256].

The World Nuclear Organisation states that Eskom procures its conversion, enrichment and fuel fabrication services from world markets, and that nearly half of its enrichment is from Russia. However, historically, South Africa has sought self-sufficiency in its fuel cycle[257].

In the 1970s the Apartheid government established a uranium enrichment company, which later, in 1999, was restructured to become Necsa (currently under the management of Zuma’s “lynchpins” Seekoe and CEO Tshelane). But actual enrichment operations ceased in 1995, and the only two conversion plants were both demolished. Much of the high-enriched uranium (HEU) is still stored away. (Some say there’s a 250kg cache[258]).

With the prospect of 9 600MW of nuclear power, local enrichment operations are again a priority. ………

Uranium is not the only commodity with dubious links to the nuclear programme.

In July 2013, John Helmer (a provocative American journalist who focuses on the Russian business sector) flagged a strange deal with a company Nemascore which had links to Zuma’s associates ……….

Stacked deck 

Overall, the tendering process for the 9 600MW nuclear build programme will include 80%  South African sourced construction companies, engineers, waste management system suppliers, security systems providers, cabling, cement, steel, finance, transport, IT firms, mining, and more[286] [287].
Which on the face of it sounds wonderful, but not when one considers it is for a nuclear programme that has already been declared by government and independent studies to be unnecessary and unaffordable, will ultimately result in 10 to 50 times higher electricity costs than we are paying now, and already exhibits alarming signs of fixed tendering through devious means[288]……..

Zuma is the bomb

Besides LEU, enrichment plants can also produce high enriched uranium (HEU), which is used in nuclear weaponry.

In March 2012, at a Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Zuma stated on the subject of HEU, “…South Africa has adopted a policy on the benefication of our mineral resources, including uranium.”[293] What Zuma meant by “benefication” was that SA has a policy of enriching Uranium and does not want to limit its options by foreswearing the production or use of HEU [IOL]. Officials further explained that Zuma was not only keeping SA’s options open for producing HEU in the future, but also defended its decision to hold on to its existing stock of HEU from the nuclear weapons programme of the Apartheid government [IOL]………..

Conclusion

Zuma’s 9 600MW nuclear procurement programme and its accompanying contracts are tainted with alleged vested interests of the most deplorable kind.
If the country has any hope of having a rational, legal, and transparent evaluation of the need for nuclear energy, the procurement process has to start afresh.
This however can only occur under new leadership, which places the country’s interests ahead of its own.

If this does not occur, the future of South Africa will consist of a dark and discontented nuclear winter.  http://www.rdm.co.za/politics/2016/02/02/zuma-the-guptas-and-the-russians–the-inside-story

February 3, 2016 Posted by | politics, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa, Uranium | Leave a comment

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