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Who REALLY benefits from uranium mining in Grand Canyon country?

Uranium in Canyon Country: Part 2 of 2: Who benefits from uranium mining? Grand Canyon News, By Erin Ford , 27 Mar 18,   GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — There are currently 831 mining claims in the roughly 1 million acres withdrawn by former Interior Secretary in 2012, according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

There may be a healthy profit to be made on the claims, as legal action by mining industry groups and a recommended review of the ban by the Forest Service seems to indicate. But who is making the profit?

The BLM’s report indicates that only about 2 percent of the 831 mining claims are held by U.S.-based companies – those belong to Liberty Star Uranium and Metals in Tucson, Arizona. The rest, discounting privately-held claims (5 percent), belong to foreign-based companies. Of the remaining 93 percent, companies based out of Canada hold 712 claims (86 percent) and a UK-based Vane Minerals holds 60 claims (7 percent).

Uranium production in the U.S. has not been a profitable enterprise since the bottom fell out of the uranium market in the early 1990s. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), there are currently 61 nuclear-based power plants in the U.S. — no new plants have been commissioned since the near-catastrophic incident at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island facility in 1979. The end of the Cold War in 1991 meant that proliferation of nuclear weapons was suspended, a pact that remains largely in place. As a result, demand for uranium fell sharply, prices bottomed out and uranium extraction became a pricey enterprise with low return on investment.

………Where’s the profit?

In a petition filed with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), Energy Fuels Inc., a Canadian company with a 12 percent stake in uranium mining claims around Grand Canyon, asserts that the commercial uranium stockpile was 6 percent higher than 2015 levels.

If demand is lower and supplies are higher, how do these companies plan to profit off increased mining activity?

The answer may lie in three things: President Donald Trump’s energy dominance agenda, potential U.S. Supreme Court ruling and Energy Fuels’ petition to the DOC……….

Who benefits?

Energy Fuels, Inc. recently filed a petition with the DOC for relief under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. In simplest terms, the company is asking the administration to issue a buy American requirement by limiting uranium imports as a threat to national security. The premise is the same as the tariffs to be potentially imposed on steel and aluminum imports — to revive a U.S.-based industry by steeply taxing competitors or eliminating them altogether.

But Reimondo points out that uranium mining isn’t a strong economic driver in northern Arizona, and even if it was, the U.S. doesn’t reap any rewards. The government, which receives royalty payments from industries that extract minerals or other commodities from federal lands, doesn’t receive royalties from uranium mining.

Comparatively, the tourism and travel economy pumps more than 900 million into the region each year, and supports nearly 20,000 jobs, according to a joint 2011 report by the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Forest Service and BLM. The report also estimates that uranium mining could support only about 650 local jobs — and those jobs aren’t permanent. Once a mine is depleted, on-site jobs will evaporate. Energy Fuels says its Canyon mine, which is currently permitted to operate near Red Butte about six miles from the South Rim, is expected to employ about 60 people at peak production.

“Mining does not drive our economy here,” said Coconino County Supervisor Art Babbott in an interview. “Access to public lands, that’s what is our important economic driver here.” https://www.grandcanyonnews.com/news/2018/mar/27/uranium-canyon-country-part-2-2-who-benefits-urani/

 

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March 27, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. mining industry files petitions to overturn prohibition on uranium mining near Grand Canyon

Guardian 10th March 2018, The US mining industry has asked the supreme court to overturn an Obama-era
rule prohibiting the mining of uranium on public lands adjacent to the
Grand Canyon. The National Mining Association (NMA) and the American
Exploration and Mining Association (AEMA) filed petitions on Friday asking
the court to reverse the 2012 ban on new uranium mining claims on more than
1 million acres of public land surrounding Grand Canyon national park.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/10/grand-canyon-uranium-mining-ban-supreme-court

March 12, 2018 Posted by | Legal, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

INTERVIEW:  Niger: “In Arlit, people drink water contaminated by radioactivity”

 This fear is also present in
 The word Areva is scary. It’s a taboo subject unless it’s to magnify the business. People want to talk, but like the Nigerian government, they feel helpless against this multinational. When I was doing my scouting, many people told me that I was putting myself in danger. Here, when you talk about Areva, it’s like a God, you should not call your name out loud.

In the documentary, you show this radioactive dust, poisoned water, houses built with land mines, contaminated food, livestock dying .

Houses must even be destroyed because the clay walls contain radioactivity.

The uranium deposits exploited by Orano (formerly Areva) are poisoning the population, explains Amina Weira, author of a documentary on the subject.

Interview by Matteo Maillard (Dakar, correspondence) http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2018/02/26/niger-a-arlit-les-gens-boivent-de-l-eau-contaminee-par-la-radioactivite_5262875_3212.html  THE WORLD  27.02.2018

It was a Tuareg encampment swept by bursts of Saharan simoun. Today it is a city that bears the mark of its development as its decadence. In Arlit, in northern Niger, uranium has been a source of hope since the French group Areva (renamed Orano in January) began mining the deposits in the 1970s.

Many nomads and workers came to this arid region. the workers’ city which was then called “the second Paris”. None knew the invisible danger of radioactivity.

Forty years later, Niger became the second largest supplier of uranium to Areva, but the mining of Cominak and Somair contaminated the population in its daily activities. It is in the sanded streets of her childhood that Amina Weira, a 29-year-old Nigerian filmmaker, posed her camera in front of the elders who lived through the early days of mining. In this film entitled La Rage dans le vent, presented in Dakar as part of the Films Femmes Afrique festival, she shows the invisible threat hanging over Arlit. Interview.

In your movie, the main protagonist is your father. You visit your relatives and tell the city of your childhood. Why did you choose this intimate setting?

 Amina Weira:   Because mine has always been part of our lives. My father worked there as an electrician. When my sisters and I saw him go to work, we imagined he was going to an office. The mine was visible from a distance, until in 2010 we visited his place of work and realized that he was going down into this big hole. I decided to make a film about it. I quickly understood, after research, that behind this activity was hiding something else less visible: irradiation. So I directed my film on the health aspect.

How did you realize the impact of the mine on the health of the inhabitants? 

When I was little already, the mother of one of my classmates had health problems every time she came to Arlit. It was necessary to evacuate it to Niamey, more than a thousand kilometers, to cure it. I did not understand why she could not live here. Later, when I wanted to do the film, I asked scientists and doctors about the dangers of mining. In Arlit, there are many health problems. Respiratory difficulties, cancers, women who give birth to poorly trained children … Small, we saw all that, but we did not make the link. People used to say, as often in Africa, “it’s his destiny, it’s God who gave him a child like that”. It is mostly mine retirees who are affected. Many die of paralysis and strange diseases.

 In the documentary, you show this radioactive dust, poisoned water, houses built with land mines, contaminated food, livestock dying …

I wanted to bring out everyday life, show all the activities of the city. We see the manufacture of pots: people recover the scrap metal from the mine, melt it and transform it into kitchen utensils that they sell to the population or export to Nigeria. They do not measure the danger of this activity. When they melt iron, the radioactivity is released. This is where Areva must intervene, preventing the population from recovering this contaminated scrap metal.

Houses must even be destroyed because the clay walls contain radioactivity.

 It should be understood that in the beginning, Arlit was a camp, a city of miners, then people came to settle, hoping to take advantage of this activity. Today, there are nearly 150,000 inhabitants, including about 4,000 mine workers. Areva created this city from scratch. The workers had to have all the conditions to stay. They had children, it took schools. They were sick, it took hospitals. To build, the inhabitants used the contaminated clay around them. Some neighborhoods are within 200 meters of the mine. The standards are not respected. And sandstorms propagate radioactivity in the city.

We also see women whose livestock die inexplicably.

When we drink Arlit’s water, we feel that it is not quite drinkable, that it is different from the rest of the country. The women talk about Areva employees who only drink mineral water, when they can not afford it. One of the mines is below the water table. Some are therefore deliver water from neighboring regions. A water tower has just been built, but it is not enough to supply the entire city.

 You do not present your film as an investigation, there are no scientists or organizations that support your remarks. Why ?

 I did not want to dwell on the numbers, but to give the floor to the people. Too often, we give the floor to the leaders of Areva. But many organizations have researched and analyzed radioactivity in the region, such as the Criirad [Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity], Greenpeace, WHO [World Health Organization]. Radioactivity levels are higher than the rest of the country.

What do you say to Areva?

 That they have monopolized our wealth without warning the workers of the risks incurred. They have relied on the ignorance of the people to make profit. The workers live in a city where they pay neither water nor electricity nor rent. There is a certain luxury that keeps them in silence, because it is difficult to spit in the soup. Niger has a very high unemployment rate. An unemployed youth is not going to think twice about offering these benefits. He gets used to this luxury and even if he realizes the harmful effects on his health, he will not say anything for fear of losing his job.

 Have you been pressured by Areva during filming?

No, not at all, it is rather the Nigerian authorities who wanted to block me. I had obtained filming authorizations from the National Film Center and Arlit Town Hall. We were arrested twice, but since I was in good standing, they left me alone. The title of the movie, Anger in the Wind, helped me a lot. They thought I was making a film about the wind, the desert, without much knowledge of the synopsis.
 
Why was the film censored in Niger?
By fear. When I propose the film to movie theater operators, they say they do not want any problems. They are afraid that my producers, who are part of the alternative environment, are perceived as opponents. I broadcast my film in several French institutes in Africa. That of Niamey also wanted to disseminate it, but it has not received the approval of the Embassy of France.

 This fear is also present in the population?

 The word Areva is scary. It’s a taboo subject unless it’s to magnify the business. People want to talk, but like the Nigerian government, they feel helpless against this multinational. When I was doing my scouting, many people told me that I was putting myself in danger. Here, when you talk about Areva, it’s like a God, you should not call your name out loud.

 Has the film been successful abroad?
Yes, it has been around the world since 2016 and has won a dozen awards. After Brazil and the United States, I was invited to Japan. I did not think one day make a movie that would be seen until there. It’s a pride, I tell myself that my work has served something. But I made this film for my country first and I hope that someday it can be seen there.

Towards the end of the film, a group of young Nigerians said, “We have richness in our basement, but all we are left with is radioactivity. Is it a shared feeling?
 
These young people are part of an association whose slogan is “the post-mine”. They say that uranium is a natural resource that will run out one day or another. In Arlit, which exists only by uranium, if this resource disappears or if Areva decides to no longer exploit it, what will become of it? Will the city continue to exist? If Areva leaves today, the only legacy left to them is this radioactive waste. This “post-mine” must be planned now. You have to prepare for that.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | health, Niger, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Uranium | Leave a comment

Navajo, Havasupai resist uranium mining

 By Williams-Grand Canyon News , 27 Feb 18, SUPAI, Ariz. – Vice President Jonathan Nez joined Arizona State Rep. Eric Descheenie and six other runners on a run to the village of Supai Feb. 14 to collect handwritten letters from the students of Havasupai Elementary School.

The letters are addressed to U.S. President Donald Trump in response to speculation that he plans to lift a 20-year ban on uranium mining in the greater Grand Canyon region, which was established by the Obama administration in 2012.

“We came to support the efforts of Representative Eric Descheenie and the Havasupai tribe to elevate the voice of the Havasupai youth.” Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “Their voice needs to be heard, especially on issues that impact their health and way of life.”

“Uranium has killed fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers across the Navajo Nation. It has contaminated the water supply in numerous areas poisoning plants, animals and people. For this reason, mining and transportation of uranium are banned on Diné Bikéyah, said Vice President Nez.

At an assembly held at the school Rep. Descheenie said, “We are going to make sure your words are received and read by the president of the United States so when he makes decisions that impact your lives he does so with you in mind. You have a powerful voice and it must be heard.”

Rep. Eric Descheenie and Havasupai Chairwoman Carletta Tilousi are scheduled to hand-deliver the letters to the White House Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. …….. https://www.grandcanyonnews.com/news/2018/feb/27/navajo-havasupai-resist-uranium-mining/

 

 

 

February 27, 2018 Posted by | indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Yet another loss for uranium mining company Cameco

Uranium miner Cameco Corp. reports $62-million Q4 loss, revenue down,  SASKATOON  11 Feb 18, — Cameco Corp. lost $62 million in its latest quarter, an improvement from the year-earlier loss of $144 million…… Revenue in what was its fourth-quarter totalled $809 million compared with $887 million in the year-earlier quarterhttp://business.financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/uranium-miner-cameco-corp-reports-62-million-q4-loss-revenue-down

February 12, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, Uranium | Leave a comment

Research into effects of uranium waste exposure on Native Americans

Albuquerque Journal 5th Feb 2018, Researchers hope to measure the effects of mixed metals and uranium waste
exposure on Native American populations living in close proximity to
abandoned mines, and better understand how these toxins spread through the
environment.

That’s the objective of the newly created Superfund Research
Center at the University of New Mexico, which is funded by $1.2 million a
year for five years from the National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences.

There are more than 4,000 abandoned uranium mines — some 500 on
the Navajo Nation alone — and some 160,000 abandoned hard rock mines
scattered throughout the West, and some 600,000 Native Americans who live
within about six miles of those sites, said center director Johnnye Lynn
Lewis, a research professor in the UNM College of Pharmacy.
https://www.abqjournal.com/1129580/researchers-to-measure-mixed-metals-mining-contamination-on-native-americans.html

February 9, 2018 Posted by | environment, health, indigenous issues, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

The woes of Australian uranium company Paladin – 98% of shares transferred to creditors

Paladin to return to ASX, most shares in hands of creditors http://www.miningweekly.com/article/paladin-to-return-to-asx-most-shares-in-hands-of-creditors-2018-02-02/rep_id:3650 2ND FEBRUARY 2018 BY: MARIAAN WEBB CREAMER MEDIA SENIOR RESEARCHER AND DEPUTY EDITOR ONLINE JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Uranium miner Paladin Energy will apply for its securities to be reinstated to official quotation on the ASX, the Australia-based company said on Friday, announcing the completion of its restructuring and the appointment of two new directors.

With the deed of company arrangement (DOCA) effected, deed administrators have retired and the day-to-day management and control of Paladin has reverted to the company’s directors. The two new board appointments are iCobalt MD David Riekie and former interim CEO and MD of Atlas Iron Daniel Harris.

The DOCA was put forward to the administrators of Paladinby a group of the company’s unsecured bondholders, known as the Ad Hoc Committee. The DOCA’s key terms included the debt-for-equity swap, the raising of $115-million pursuant to the issue of a high-yield secured note and the reinstatement of Paladin to trade on the ASX.

In terms of the DOCA, 98% of Paladin’s shares have been transferred to creditors and other investors and only 2% are retained by shareholders. If a shareholder held 10 000 Paladin shares before the restructuring, they will now hold 200 shares.

Creditors all agreed to a restructuring proposal in December, although major creditor Electricité de France (EDF) previously said that it may seek to have the DOCA terminated.

Paladin appointed administrators in July last year after the company was unable to agree a delay to the repayment of $277-million it owed EDF.

On Wednesday, Paladin published its quarterly activities reports for the June, September and December quarters, as well as its June 2017 annual report.

The most recent quarter’s results show that the Langer Heinrich mine, in Namibia, produced 873 107 lb of uranium oxide (U3O8), up 4% on the prior quarter. Sales were at 1.24-million U3O8 at an average selling price of $22.39/lb.

The Kayelekera mine, in Malawi, remains under care and maintenance.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

No uranium mining for Čermeľ-Jahodná locality in Slovakia

Slovak Spectator 1st Feb 2018, Uranium ore will not be mined in the Čermeľ-Jahodná locality in the Košice Region. This stems from the final ruling issued by the Supreme
Court, which decided not to extend a permit for a geological survey of
uranium ore at the site close to Košice, the TASR newswire reported. The
court has thus ended the legal proceedings and upheld a decision by the
Environment Ministry.
https://spectator.sme.sk/c/20751213/uranium-mining-near-kosice-definitely-rejected.html

February 5, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, Uranium | Leave a comment

Shame on Trump – Uranium mines in Bears Ears?

Editorial: Uranium mines in Bears Ears? Shame on Trump, THE DENVER POST EDITORIAL BOARD |

Denver Post A uranium company that is headquartered  in Colorado “lobbied extensively” for President Donald Trump to reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument, according to an investigation in last Sunday’s New York Times.

The implications of the story written by Hiroko Tabuchi were staggering: an area of long-held federal land only recently protected by President Barack Obama at the end of his administration for its significance to five Native American tribes could one day be pocked with uranium mines.

Tabuchi found that there are more than 300 uranium mining claims inside Obama’s boundaries for the national monument, nearly a third of which are tied to the Lakewood-based Energy Fuels Resources.

“The vast majority of those claims fall neatly outside the new boundaries of Bears Ears,” Tabuchi wrote…….

The valleys, buttes and desert landscape of Bears Ears are largely untouched and full of historical significance to the five Indian nations whose ancestors left their artifacts, ruins and hieroglyphics across the land as evidence that they were there first. Bears Ears deserves protection.

As Trump celebrated shrinking Bears Ears last month at the Utah Capitol, he said: “I’ve come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens.”

Trump is wrong. The land is still all federally owned, outside of the control and taxation of local entities. What Trump’s ruling did do was open up the possibility of private interests taking what they want from the land. Until Tabuchi’s reporting, we were all supposed to believe no one wanted this land for private gain. Now we all know the sad truth. https://www.denverpost.com/2018/01/20/uranium-mines-in-bears-ears-shame-on-trump/

January 24, 2018 Posted by | indigenous issues, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Uranium pollution dispels the grand illusion of “clean America”

There are 10 or eleven towns in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexicothat had Uranium mills, right in the middle of town. That means that Uranium dust, polonium, thorium, radium, and radon blew freely, thoughout thewe towns, 24 hours a day for years. Most of the water, drained into the Colorado ariver. Many of these towns were downwinder towns, from open air blasting of nucler bombs in Nevada from 1949 to 1962.  Many, of the towns had the misfortune of having underground nuclear bombs detonated close to them as well, to try to track natural gas. Especially in New Mexico and Colorado. In the 60s Hilibutron was also tracking nuclear waste into areas in Nevada, and Wyoming. More recently  there has been fracking for oil and gas in UtAh, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona. This means the radioactive burden to their water tables has been increased again substantially , along with 60 years of radioactive burden on the Colorado River. There are also the 1000 or so uranium mines draining into the Colorado River and Green driver from Utah, the western slope, Shiprock New Mexico,  Wyoming, The Grand Canyon Area.
I think Helen Caldicotts and Christina Macphersons estimates of a few million tons of radioactive sediment in Lake Mead and even lake Powell is wrong. https://nuclear-news.net/2017/12/22/uranium-tailings-pollution-in-lake-mead-and-lake-powell-colorado/

Consider underground nuclear destinations in Rangely Colorado and Northen New Mexico. I think it is more like a half billion or billions of ons of nuclear waste sediment in Lake Powell and lake mead..
There were Uranium Mills on the Navajo nation by Ship Rock and Halchita which is by the Colorado river. There were Uranium Mills right in the middle of town in Canyon City.Colorado, Moab.Utah, Uravan.Colorado, White Mesa.Utah, Monticello.Utah, by Grand Junction.Colorado. Many in Wyoming.
Uranium mining in Wyoming – Wikipedia
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uranium_mining_in_Wyoming.

There are dense cancer clusters in these little towns on the Navajo Nation, in Utah, in Nevada, in Colorado, in Wyoming, in New Mexico. There are Genetic mutations that should not exist. Some people, like those in St George or Monticello Utah got the mere pittance of 50,000 dollars, after having lived in downwinder areas and surviving cancer. Generations of families wiped-out in many instances. Clarke county Nevada, by Las Vegas has one of the highest incidences of cancer in the US. Is it any wonder, with all the radiation in their primary drinking water supplies?
Many little Colorado Plateau towns, in the west are  hit with quintuple curses: bomb blasts above ground, bomb blasts below ground-poisoning their head waters, uranium mills and waste in town, their river water radioacively poisoned from inderground nuclear blasts, from uranium mines, from cold war nuclear bomb detonations.
There has recently, been a great deal of cracking in these areas, releasing radioactivity into their desert rivers and water tables.
Americans live in a grand delusion, thinking how clean the western United States, and the rest of the USA is, with a hundred rickety old nuclear plants belching tritium, into the environment.  The United State is the most radioactive shithole in the world. How Trump has the gall to call other countries shitholes, is beyond me.

January 15, 2018 Posted by | environment, Reference, Uranium, wastes | Leave a comment

Navajo town remembers water pollution due to uranium mining – fears of new mines

Uranium Miners Pushed Hard for a Comeback. They Got Their Wish. NYT, JAN. 13, 2018  “………The Navajo town of Sanders, Ariz., a dusty outpost with a single stoplight, is a reminder of uranium’s lasting environmental legacy.

In Sanders, hundreds of people were exposed to potentially dangerous levels of uranium in their drinking water for years, until testing by a doctoral researcher at Northern Arizona University named Tommy Rock exposed the contamination.

“I was shocked,” Mr. Rock said. “I wasn’t expecting that reading at all.”

Mr. Rock and other scientists say they suspect a link to the 1979 breach of a wastewater pond at a uranium mill in Church Rock, N.M., now a Superfund site. That accident is considered the single largest release of radioactive material in American history, surpassing the crisis at Three Mile Island.

It wasn’t until 2003, however, that testing by state regulators picked up uranium levels in Sanders’s tap water. Still, the community was not told. Erin Jordan, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, said the department had urged the now-defunct local water company for years to address the contamination, but it had been up to that company to notify its customers.

Only in 2015, after Mr. Rock raised the alarm, did local regulators issue a public notice.

The town’s school district, whose wells were also contaminated with uranium, received little state or federal assistance. It shut off its water fountains and handed out bottled water to its 800 elementary and middle-school students.

The schools finally installed filters last May. Parents remain on edge.

“I still don’t trust the water,” said Shanon Sangster, who still sends her 10-year-old daughter, Shania, to school with bottled water. “It’s like we are all scarred by it, by the uranium.”https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/13/climate/trump-uranium-bears-ears.html

January 15, 2018 Posted by | indigenous issues, Uranium, USA | 2 Comments

Will Trump allow irreparable damage to the Grand Canyon, and expand uneconomic uranium mining?

Will Trump Dump on Grand Canyon? Experts Say Risk of Uranium Mining Not Worth Reward
MIRIAM WASSER Phoenix New Times JANUARY 11, 2018  “……… 
In 2012, President Barack Obama’s administration put a 20-year freeze (called a mineral withdrawal) on all new mining claims in 1 million acres around the Grand Canyon. A handful of mines with valid existing rights, like Canyon Mine, were grandfathered in and permitted to move ahead with operations.

The reason for the withdrawal was simple: Scientists didn’t know enough about the complex hydrology of the area to say whether mining could cause irreparable damage. And with the entire Grand Canyon ecosystem and tourism industry at stake — not to mention the Havasupai who live in the park and the millions of people who live downstream from the Colorado River — there was overwhelming public support for the decision.

Fast-forward to the present day, however, and there are signs that the moratorium may not survive Donald Trump’s presidency.

His administration has spent the last year systematically trying to undermine his predecessor’s environmental policies, an agenda that has included reducing regulations and opening up vast areas of public land for mining, drilling, and fracking.

In the case of uranium, “they’re just doing it because they can,” says Chris Mehl of Headwaters Economics, an independent nonprofit research group that studies western land management. “They’re offering an opportunity for a product that is at or near historic low prices”….

As any economist will tell you, sometimes it’s worth taking a big risk in order to get a big reward. But when it comes to reversing the 2012 withdrawal, the potential benefits seem small and the risks seem huge.

Much has been written about the health and environmental hazards posed by uranium mining near the Grand Canyon; what’s missing is the economic side of the story.

For years, Phoenix New Times has heard that uranium mining in the area is not only environmentally irresponsible, but makes no economic sense. These critics include scientists, conservationists, local politicians, and even leaders in the nuclear power industry. They say that while intuitively, we might think that more mining would be good for the local economy, it turns out this isn’t the case.

Given that the whole point of “revising” the withdrawal is to bolster domestic energy production to create jobs, secure energy independence, and help the economy, New Times decided to investigate the economics of uranium mining in the area.

To do this, we spoke with more than a dozen experts in fields like hard-rock mining, mineral economics, hydrology, environmental law, and nuclear power. We analyzed global uranium market trends and data, learned about unconventional mining techniques, and spoke with local politicians who are familiar with the northern Arizona economy.

We also consulted reports from various federal agencies, think tanks, trade groups, the Government Accountability Office, the World Nuclear Association, and the International Atomic Energy Association’s biennial report about the state of the global uranium market, The Uranium Red Book.

Tellingly, no expert or document made the argument that acquiring uranium from within the 2012 withdrawal is a matter of national security. No one said we needed it to keep the lights on now or in the foreseeable future. The world is flush with uranium that’s cheaper to mine and the U.S. Department of Energy has huge stockpiles of enriched and raw uranium that could be used in a pinch, we were told, again and again.

And finally, no one said that it would do much for the local economy. Some suggested that at best, it could create temporary jobs, though most felt that because of the stop-and-go nature of uranium mining, and the fears mining stokes about a radioactive accident, it would be more likely to cause harm than good.

“When people want to mine [uranium] in the U.S., I think, ‘Really?’ It’s generally not worth it,” says James Conca, a senior scientist at the energy consulting firm UFA Ventures Inc…….http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/heres-who-officially-qualified-for-a-shot-at-trent-franks-seat-10029922

January 12, 2018 Posted by | politics, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Uranium tailings pollution in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, Colorado

And so, the billions of tons of silt that has accumulated in Lake Mead and Lake Powell serve as archives of sorts. They hold the sedimental records of an era during which people, health, land, and water were all sacrificed in order to obtain the raw material for weapons that are capable of destroying all of humanity.
The 26,000 tons of radioactive waste under Lake Powell http://www.hcn.org/articles/pollution-a-26-000-ton-pile-of-radioactive-waste-lies-under-the-waters-and-silt-of-lake-powellThe West’s uranium boom brought dozens of mills to the banks of the Colorado River — where toxic waste was dumped irresponsibly.

In 1949, the Vanadium Corporation of America built a small mill at the confluence of White Canyon and the Colorado River to process uranium ore from the nearby Happy Jack Mine, located upstream in the White Canyon drainage (and just within the Obama-drawn Bears Ears National Monument boundaries). For the next four years, the mill went through about 20 tons of ore per day, crushing and grinding it up, then treating it with sulfuric acid, tributyl phosphate and other nastiness. One ton of ore yielded about five or six pounds of uranium, meaning that each day some 39,900 pounds of tailings were piled up outside the mill on the banks of the river.

In 1953 the mill was closed, and the tailings were left where they sat, uncovered, as was the practice of the day. Ten years later, water began backing up behind the newly built Glen Canyon Dam; federal officials decided to let the reservoir’s waters inundate the tailings. There they remain today.

If you’re one of the millions of people downstream from Lake Powell who rely on Colorado River water and this worries you, consider this: Those 26,000 tons of tailings likely make up just a fraction of the radioactive material contained in the silt of Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

 During the uranium days of the West, more than a dozen mills — all with processing capacities at least ten times larger than the one at White Canyon — sat on the banks of the Colorado River and its tributaries. Mill locations included Shiprock, New Mexico, and Mexican Hat, Utah, on the San Juan River; Rifle and Grand Junction, Colorado, and Moab on the Colorado; and in Uravan, Colorado, along the San Miguel River, just above its confluence with the Dolores. They did not exactly dispose of their tailings in a responsible way.

At the Durango mill the tailings were piled into a hill-sized mound just a stone’s throw from the Animas River. They weren’t covered or otherwise contained, so when it rained tailings simply washed into the river. Worse, the mill’s liquid waste stream poured directly into the river at a rate of some 340 gallons per minute, or half-a-million gallons per day. It was laced not only with highly toxic chemicals used to leach uranium from the ore and iron-aluminum sludge (a milling byproduct), but also radium-tainted ore solids.

 Radium is a highly radioactive “bone-seeker.” That means that when it’s ingested it makes its way to the skeleton, where it decays into other radioactive daughter elements, including radon, and bombards the surrounding tissue with alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. According to the Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry, exposure leads to “anemia, cataracts, fractured teeth, cancer (especially bone cancer), and death.”

It wasn’t any better at any of the other mills. In the early 1950s, researchers from the U.S. Public Health Service sampled Western rivers and found that “the dissolved radium content of river water below uranium mills was increased considerably by waste discharges from the milling operations” and that “radium content of river muds below the uranium mills was 1,000 to 2,000 times natural background concentrations.”

 That was just from daily operations. In 1960, one of the evaporation ponds at the Shiprock mill broke, sending at least 250,000 gallons of highly acidic raffinate, containing high levels of radium and thorium, into the river. None of the relevant officials were notified and individual users continued to drink the water, put it on their crops, and give it to their sheep and cattle. It wasn’t until five days later, after hundreds of dead fish had washed up on the river’s shores for sixty miles downstream, that the public was alerted to the disaster.

Of course, what’s dumped into the river at Shiprock doesn’t stay in Shiprock. It slowly makes its way downstream. In the early 1960s, while Glen Canyon Dam was still being constructed, the Public Health Service folks did extensive sediment sampling in the Colorado River Basin, with a special focus on Lake Mead’s growing bed of silt, which had been piling up at a rate of 175 million tons per year since Hoover Dam started impounding water in 1935. The Lake Mead samples had higher-than-background levels of radium-226. The report concludes:

 “The data have shown, among other things, that Lake Mead has been essentially the final resting place for the radium contaminated sediments of the Basin. With the closure of Glen Canyon Dam upstream, Lake Powell will then become the final resting place for future radium contaminated sediments. The data also show that a small fraction of the contaminated sediment has passed through Lake Mead to be trapped by Lakes Mohave and Havasu.”

And so, the billions of tons of silt that has accumulated in Lake Mead and Lake Powell serve as archives of sorts. They hold the sedimental records of an era during which people, health, land, and water were all sacrificed in order to obtain the raw material for weapons that are capable of destroying all of humanity.

December 22, 2017 Posted by | environment, Reference, Uranium, USA, water | 1 Comment

Gabon’s uranium miners’ long wait for compensation for radiation-caused illness

For Gabon’s sickly uranium miners, a long quest for compensation,https://www.modernghana.com/news/819514/for-gabons-sickly-uranium-miners-a-long-quest-for-compensa.html , 27 Nov 17“We are all sick. It’s our health, and we are being conned,” Moise Massala says angrily.

The 82-year-old is a retired geochemist who used to work in a uranium mine in Gabon owned by French nuclear giant Areva.

He and hundreds of other former workers say they fell ill from their work to extract the uranium — a source of nuclear power and warheads, but toxic and potentially carcinogenic.

The miners worked for an Areva subsidiary — the Compagnie des mines d’uranium de Franceville, better known by its abbreviation of COMUF.

Over 38 years, the mine extracted some 26,000 tonnes of uranium near Mounana, southeastern Gabon, before closing in 1999 after the global price of uranium fell and the seam of ore began to thin.

By the end of 2016, 367 former workers had died from “pulmonary respiratory infections” linked to working in the mine, according to MATRAC, a campaign group gathering 1,618 former employees.

The surviving miners, many of them old and sick, have unsuccessfully demanded compensation for 12 years in the belief they were exposed to dangerous levels of uranium contamination.

Areva, a multi-billion-dollar business majority-owned by the French state, has repeatedly denied that it has any case to answer. “No occupational disease related to exposure to ionising radiation” has ever been detected, it says.

‘Many serious diseases’ An internal company mail dating from 2015, seen by AFP and independently verified, acknowledges that the company was aware many of its former employees had developed serious ailments.

In the mail, Areva’s health director, Pierre Laroche, wrote that “many serious diseases have been detected among former employees, for example contagious tuberculosis”.

For former workers, this proves the company’s liability and justifies their claims for compensation, even if it does not legally prove all their illnesses are directly linked to excessive levels of uranium exposure.

The firm has refused to give payouts to the vast majority of its employees, apart from compensation payments in 2011 to the families in France of two French former mine workers who died of lung cancer.

The company has repeatedly argued it was difficult to establish if the rate of cancer cases among former miners was greater than those occurring in the wider population.

“That there was radioactivity in Mounana is a reality. (But) to what degree and to what extent the workers were affected, it will be very difficult to establish,” a former senior executive of the mine told AFP, on condition of anonymity.

In similar disputes elsewhere in the world, experts acknowledge the difficulty of pinning cancer and respiratory diseases on nuclear exposure at work.

Smoking and other “lifestyle” habits could, for instance, be a cause.

‘We are sick’

Areva has been under pressure to compensate its employees for more than a decade.

In 2007, French NGOs Sherpa and Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) carried out field surveys in Mounana and in Niger, another Areva uranium mining site.

They published a report denouncing what they described as high rates of cancer among former employees.

Areva agreed to investigate the situation and launched a health initiative in 2009 — the Mounana Health Observatory (OSM) — promising to pay compensation and treat former miners who fell ill, provided scientific and medical panels confirmed their disease was attributable to industrial causes.

Seven years on, not one former employee has been compensated.

“I’ve had difficulty breathing for 10 years,” says 77-year-old Roland Mayombo, who spent 27 years in the mine.

“I went to the OSM four times a year, but I have never had a result,” he complained.

“We decided to stop going (to the OSM) because no one has ever given us our analysis results,” said Estime Beno Ngodi, president of MATRAC, who says he is suffering from lung cancer.

COMUF accuses MATRAC of spreading “misinformation” and defends its handling of the health initiative.

It looked at more than 650 former workers but suspended the project in 2015 because of a boycott by MATRAC, says Gilles Recoche, COMUF’s director of the board.

“We’re proud of having set up a unique tripartite structure, which enabled former COMUF workers to benefit from a free medical visit,” he adds.

For the surviving miners, their long battle to prove a direct link between their illness and uranium contamination goes on. But, for many, age and sickness are wearing them down.

December 1, 2017 Posted by | AFRICA, health, Uranium | Leave a comment

Australium uranium company Paladin going bust, leaving Malawi with a horrible environmental mess

Paladin has ignored our requests to provide its estimate of the cost of rehabilitating Kayelekera, but we can safely say that the figure will be multiples of the US$10 million bond. Just keeping Kayelekera in care-and-maintenance costs US$1012 million annually.

As things stand, if Paladin goes bankrupt and fails to rehabilitate Kayelekera, either rehabilitation will be coordinated and funded by the Malawian government (with a small fraction of the cost coming from Paladin’s bond) or the mine-site will not be rehabilitated at all.

It does Australian companies investing in mining ventures abroad no good whatsoever to leave Kayelekera unrehabilitated, a permanent reminder of the untrustworthiness and unfulfilled promises of an Australian miner and the indifference of the Australian government.

The company’s environmental and social record has also been the source of ongoing controversy and the subject of countless critical reports.

Julie Bishop, the WA government, Paladin and its administrators from KPMG need to liaise with the Malawian government and Malawian civil society to sort the rehabilitation of Kayelekera. An obvious starting point would be to prioritise the rehabilitation of Kayelekera if and when Paladin goes bankrupt and its carcass is being divided up. (picture below shows uranium sludge going to river)

Australian uranium miner goes bust ‒ so who cleans up its mess in Africa? By Morgan Somerville and Jim Green, Online Opinion, 8 November 2017http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=19394&page=0

Perth-based uranium mining company Paladin Energy was put into administration in July and the company is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Critics of the uranium industry won’t miss the company if it disappears. Other uranium mining companies won’t miss Paladin; in an overcrowded market, they will be pleased to have less competition.

But the looming bankruptcy does pose one major problem. Paladin’s Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi, the ‘warm heart of Africa’, needs to be rehabilitated and Paladin hasn’t set aside nearly enough money for the job.

Under the leadership of founder and CEO John Borshoff, described as the grandfather of Australian uranium, Paladin has operated two uranium mines over the past decade. The Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia was opened in 2007, and Kayelekera in 2009.

They were heady days ‒ there was an endless talk about a nuclear power ‘renaissance’ and the uranium price tripled between June 2006 and June 2007. The Australian Financial Review reflected on Paladin’s glory days: “John Borshoff was once one of Western Australia’s wealthiest businessmen. The founder of Perth-based Paladin Energy developed an enviable portfolio of African uranium mines supposed to satiate booming global demand for yellowcake. When the company’s Langer Heinrich mine began shipments in March 2007, as the spot price for uranium eclipsed $US100 per pound, Paladin was worth more than $4 billion.”

Paladin was once the best-­performed stock in the world according to The Australian newspaper. The company’s share price went from one cent in 2003 to A$10.80 in 2007. Borshoff made his debut on the Business Review Weekly’s ‘Rich 200’ list in 2007 with estimated wealth of A$205 million.

But the good times didn’t last. The uranium bubble burst in mid-2007, and the Fukushima disaster in 2011 ensured that there would be no nuclear power renaissance and that the uranium industry would remain depressed for years to come. Borshoff left Paladin in 2015, and in 2016 Paladin’s new CEO Alexander Molyneux said that “it has never been a worse time for uranium miners”.

The loss-making Kayelekera mine in Malawi was put into care-and-maintenance in July 2014, leaving Paladin with the modest Langer Heinrich mine plus a number of projects the company describes as ‘nonproducing assets’ (such as uranium projects in jurisdictions that ban uranium mining).

Paladin was put into administration in July this year, unable to pay its debts. Even if Paladin sold its 75% stake in Langer Heinrich, its only revenue-raising project, it couldn’t repay all its debts.

Administrators from KPMG are attempting to sort out the mess and bondholders are reportedly being asked to fund a recapitalisation of Paladin. Bankruptcy would seem a much more likely option given the weakness of the company and the weakness of the global uranium market.

Paladin has said that a uranium price of about US$75 per pound would be required for Kayelekera to become economically viable ‒  almost four times the current uranium spot price, and well over twice the current long-term contract price. Even if the uranium price did rebound, Kayelekera would operate for only around four years; it isn’t a large deposit.

The likelihood of uranium prices reaching US$75 in the foreseeable future is near-zero. John Borshoff said in 2013 that the uranium industry “is definitely in crisis … and is showing all the symptoms of a mid-term paralysis”. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd said in May 2014 that the industry is set for “a long period of relatively low prices, in which uranium producers will find it hard to make a living”. Nick Carter from Ux Consulting said in April 2016 that he did not anticipate a uranium supply deficit until the late 2020s. Other industry insiders and market analysts have made similar comments about the bleak future for uranium ‒ and the bondholders being asked to recapitalise Paladin would surely know that their money would be better invested in a long-shot at Flemington.

Who cleans up Kayelekera?

Assuming Paladin goes bankrupt, who cleans up the Kayelekera open-pit uranium mine? The company was required to lodge a US$10 million Environmental Performance Bond with Malawian banks, and presumably that money can be tapped to rehabilitate Kayelekera. But US$10 million won’t scratch the surface. According to a Malawian NGO, the rehabilitation cost is estimated at US$100 million ‒ ten times the amount set aside by Paladin. The cost of rehabilitating the Ranger uranium in the Northern Territory ‒ also an open-pit uranium mine, albeit larger than Kayelekera ‒ is estimated at just under US$500 million.

Paladin has ignored our requests to provide its estimate of the cost of rehabilitating Kayelekera, but we can safely say that the figure will be multiples of the US$10 million bond. Just keeping Kayelekera in care-and-maintenance costs US$1012 million annually.

As things stand, if Paladin goes bankrupt and fails to rehabilitate Kayelekera, either rehabilitation will be coordinated and funded by the Malawian government (with a small fraction of the cost coming from Paladin’s bond) or the mine-site will not be rehabilitated at all.

Is it reasonable for Australia, a relatively wealthy country, to leave it to the overstretched, under-resourced government of an impoverished African nation to clean up the mess left behind by an Australian mining company? If the Malawian government cleans up Paladin’s mess, that will necessarily come at the expense of other priorities. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. According to a 2013 U.N. report, more than half the population live below the poverty line, and about half of all children under the age of five show signs of chronic malnutrition.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop should intervene to sort out the situation at Kayelekera and to prevent a repetition of this fiasco. We imagine that the Minister’s eyes might glaze over in response to a moral argument about the importance of Australia being a good global citizen. But there is also a hard-headed commercial argument for intervention to clean up Kayelekera.

It does Australian companies investing in mining ventures abroad no good whatsoever to leave Kayelekera unrehabilitated, a permanent reminder of the untrustworthiness and unfulfilled promises of an Australian miner and the indifference of the Australian government. Australia is set to become the biggest international miner on the African continent, perhaps as early as this year, according to the Australia-Africa Minerals & Energy Group. But Australian companies can’t expect to be welcomed if travesties such as Kayelekera remain resolved.

‘Overly sophisticated’

Back in 2006, John Borshoff told ABC television that Australia and Canada have become “overly sophisticated” with their thinking about environmental and social issues associated with the mining industry. Hence Paladin’s focus on projects in Africa.

One advantage ‒ if that’s the word ‒ of mining in Africa is that Paladin hasn’t had to set aside sufficient funds to rehabilitate Kayelekera. The company’s environmental and social record has also been the source of ongoing controversy and the subject of countless critical reports.

Paladin has lost money on Kayelekera, and the economic benefits for Malawi have been pitiful. Paladin has exploited the country’s poverty to secure numerous reductions and exemptions from payments normally required by foreign investors. United Nations’ Special Rapporteur Olivier De Schutter noted in a 2013 report that “revenue losses from special incentives given to Australian mining company Paladin Energy, which manages the Kayelekera uranium mine, are estimated to amount to at least US$205 million (MWK 67 billion), and could be up to US$281 million (MWK 92 billion) over the 13 year lifespan of the mine.”

The official line from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is that “mining offers African countries an unparalleled opportunity to stimulate growth and reduce poverty. If well managed, the extractives sector can drive innovation, generate revenue to fund critical social services and upgrade productive physical infrastructure, and directly and indirectly create jobs.”

The reality at Kayelekera is starkly different from the picture painted by the bureaucrats in Canberra.

Two years ago, then WA Premier Colin Barnett told a mining conference in South Africa that Australian mining companies have “brought both expertise and ethical standards. It is a matter of pride for many companies that the standards applied in Australia are also applied in Africa.”

But standards at Kayelekera fall a long way short of Australian standards. Moreover, Barnett’s claims sit uncomfortably with the highly critical findings arising from a detailed investigation by the International Consortium of Independent Journalists. The Consortium noted in its 2015 report that since 2004, more than 380 people have died in mining accidents or in off-site skirmishes connected to Australian mining companies in Africa (there have been six deaths at Kayelekera). The reportfurther stated: “Multiple Australian mining companies are accused of negligence, unfair dismissal, violence and environmental law-breaking across Africa, according to legal filings and community petitions gathered from South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal and Ghana.”

Not even Collin Barnett would argue that Paladin is a source of pride for Australia. Quite the opposite. Likewise, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop surely didn’t have Paladin’s open-cut mine in mind when she told the Africa Down Under mining conference in Perth in September that many Australian mining projects in Africa are outposts of good governance and that the “Australian Government encourages the people of Africa to see us as an open-cut mine for lessons-learned, for skills, for innovation and, I would like to think, inspiration.”

Julie Bishop, the WA government, Paladin and its administrators from KPMG need to liaise with the Malawian government and Malawian civil society to sort the rehabilitation of Kayelekera. An obvious starting point would be to prioritise the rehabilitation of Kayelekera if and when Paladin goes bankrupt and its carcass is being divided up. Surely Kayelekera should take precedence over debtors such as French state-owned utility EDF, which is owed US$277 million by Paladin ‒ all the more so since the French state has its own sordid history of uranium mining in Africa.

Morgan Somerville is an International Relations student at La Trobe University. Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner for Friends of the Earth.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, environment, Malawi, Uranium | Leave a comment