Breaking News

Uranium-mining investments at risk

by Byo24News
14 March 2011 | 1617 Views
Billions of dollars of uranium-mining investments in Australia could be at risk if explosions and radiation leaks at reactors in quake-hit Japan prompt governments to rethink plans to produce more nuclear power.

With more than 30% of the world's economically exploitable uranium reserves, Australia has a lucrative resource base as fears of climate change tilt governments away from fossil fuels and toward greater interest in nuclear power.

But Friday's massive earthquake in Japan is presenting miners like BHP Billiton with a major dilemma: press ahead with new uranium developments, or put them on ice until governments give a public vote of confidence in nuclear power. A spokeswoman for BHP Billiton wasn't immediately available for comment.

Australia's federal government has made sales of the nuclear fuel a top foreign policy goal that can give it clout in regions such as China and the Middle East, where energy demand is booming. Earlier this month, Canberra signed a deal with the United Arab Emirates, paving the way for uranium sales to the Gulf country to power an industry it hopes to begin producing electricity in 2017.

But the industry, which has struggled with public opinion, has long dreaded a sequel to the disasters at Chernobyl or Three Mile Island'incidents that tarnished the image of nuclear power for decades. Political opposition to uranium mining and fears of liability for disposal of nuclear waste have long stymied uranium developments in Queensland and Western Australia, the country's two largest states.

"Should the situation in Japan worsen, that will set back nuclear power programs," said David Lennox, a resources analyst at Sydney-based brokerage Fat Prophets. "The plants that are under construction will still get built, but once they roll off the production lines we may not see new ones coming behind them. That's what we saw after Chernobyl."

Shares of Australian mining companies sold off sharply Monday, on expectations that the troubles at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant would hit both short-term demand for uranium from Japanese utilities and longer-term prospects for construction of new nuclear plants.

Paladin Energy Ltd., which operates the Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia, fell 16%, while Energy Resources of Australia Ltd., a Rio Tinto-controlled company that operates the Ranger mine amidst the tropical wetlands of Australia's Kakadu national park, dropped 12%.

"It is too early to make an assessment of the impact on the market," an ERA spokeswoman said. Paladin wasn't immediately available.

However, analysts point to a crucial difference now compared to the aftermath the Chernobyl disaster--the emergence of China as the world's most voracious energy consumer.

"Certainly [the accident] has impacted uranium share prices, and that sentiment might be there for a while to come," said Greg Hall, managing director of Toro Energy Ltd., a local uranium developer. "But you can't imagine this will impact China's strong [nuclear] build program."

At present there are 443 nuclear reactors in operation world-wide and 58 under construction, according to the World Nuclear Association, an industry group. But China alone aims to add a further 160, while India has plans to build 58 and a total of 482 new plants are being proposed and planned world-wide.

Supplying this new generating capacity will require a sharp increase in nuclear fuel production. According to the World Nuclear Association, every 1,000 megawatts added to global nuclear power generation requires 200 tons of uranium oxide. On that basis, capacity that China and India alone intend to add by 2020 would require global production to rise by 25%.

"China will not change its determination and plan for developing nuclear power," said Zhang Lijun, China's Vice Minister of Environmental Protection, over the weekend, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

But despite its vast resources, Australia is losing ground as a producer of the fuel to emerging economies such as Kazakhstan, Namibia, and Niger. In 2009, Australia produced 7,156 metric tons of uranium oxide'just 13% of the global total. That figure may drop further in the years to come: the Ranger mine produced 9% of the world's uranium in 2009, but is scheduled to close its main pit next year, while Jabiluka, a vast resource close to Ranger, may never be developed due to Aboriginal land-rights concerns.

BHP Billiton last year submitted an environmental impact statement on a US$5 billion dollar expansion of Olympic Dam, the world's largest uranium deposit, in the arid steppe of South Australia. But the plan has already been delayed for years and BHP is yet to publish a timetable for the development.

Miners are also racing to get government sign-offs on new uranium developments in Western Australia, which overturned a decades-long ban on uranium mining in 2008. Political opinion in the state remains split, with the Labor opposition advocating a renewed ban if it wins power in an election due in 2013.

Robert Vance, a nuclear energy analyst at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, says that new mines in the developed world face a series of costly hurdles to production, partly as a result of a legacy of cleanup issues left at the feet of national and provincial governments after nuclear power's first wave of popularity.

"In Australia, Canada and the U.S., countries that have been significant uranium producers for a long time and have a significant resource base…there's a lot of regulatory hoops to be jumped through to develop new mines and expand existing ones," he said.

Critical to Australia's prospects is the price of uranium, which stands at $66.50 per pound, half its 2007 record of $136 but well above the $50/lb that Merrill Lynch sees as the baseline for encouraging new mines.

"Given these higher prices and the willingness of investors to make investments in mines, Australia could become the world's largest producer," said Mr. Vance. "It certainly has the resource base."


Uranium Nuclear Japan

Source: Byo24News

Is Itai Dzamara eyeing the US Green Card?

Yes
19.35%
No
74.94%
Not sure
5.71%
403

Comments

News Updates

Email:

Latest News

Strict laws to govern Zimbabwe pastors crafted - The Evangelical Fello...

by Staff Reporter | 26 April 2015 | 112 Views

Tsvangirai to remove Mugabe from power by year end 2015 - MDC-T presid...

by Staff reporter | 26 April 2015 | 134 Views

Ziyavulwa intuba zeTrade Fair ngolwesibili - IMIGWAQO yedolobheni lako...

by Mthokozisi Dube | 26 April 2015 | 99 Views

Zim anti-poaching activist disappear in Zambia while feeling Zimbabwe ...

by Staff Reporter | 26 April 2015 | 199 Views

War collaborators hopeless about compensation - WAR COLLABORATORS in M...

by Stephen Jackson | 26 April 2015 | 246 Views

ZPP accuse Zanu PF of political rights violations - The Zimbabwe Peace...

by Stephen Jakes | 26 April 2015 | 320 Views

Kombi-pirate taxi war looming - A TAXI war is looming in Bulawayo amid...

by Vusumuzi Dube | 26 April 2015 | 250 Views

Government to dissolve local authorities accused of corruption - Gover...

by Staff Reporter | 26 April 2015 | 411 Views

Mphoko launches Zanu-PF campaign in Bulawayo - VICE-PRESIDENT Phelekez...

by Vusumuzi Dube | 26 April 2015 | 357 Views

MLF denies collapse claims - Mthwakazi Liberation Front has issued a s...

by Stephen Jackson | 26 April 2015 | 315 Views

Foreign diplomats trapped in elevator after a Zesa blackout - Presiden...

by Staff reporter | 26 April 2015 | 543 Views

ZJC not re-introduced -minister Mavima - GOVERNMENT has no plans to re...

by Staff Reporter | 26 April 2015 | 460 Views

'Mugabe is my boss,' says Kenneth Kaunda - Zambia's first Republican P...

by Emilia Zindi | 26 April 2015 | 632 Views

Zimbabwean man kidnapped in DRC - A Zimbabwean man is suspected to hav...

by Staff reporter | 26 April 2015 | 456 Views

Zimbabwean man's manhood skinned like a banana in xenophobic attack - ...

by Tinomuda Chakanyuka | 26 April 2015 | 737 Views

Third wife kills hubby over $1 - A 31-YEAR-OLD woman in a polygamous m...

by Walter Mswazie | 26 April 2015 | 372 Views

Man dumps wife after she tested HIV+ - THE Mutare Civil court was left...

by Staff reporter | 26 April 2015 | 580 Views

Zim patients at risk as drug shortage his hospitals - Almost all major...

by Staff Reporter | 26 April 2015 | 436 Views

'Tsvangirai cannot do a Mujuru on me,' says Khupe - MDC-T deputy presi...

by Nkosana Dlamini | 26 April 2015 | 706 Views

Mthwakazi activists rebuffed by Zulu King? - State media polemicist Na...

by Nathaniel Manheru | 26 April 2015 | 540 Views

Rapper in pregnancy, aborting scandal - Bulawayo's up-and-coming rap a...

by Staff Reporter | 26 April 2015 | 948 Views

Heal Zimbabwe condemns attack of MDC-T members in Budiriro - Heal Zimb...

by Stephen Jakes | 26 April 2015 | 412 Views

NRZ top brass in cash scam - NATIONAL Railways of Zimbabwe senior mana...

by Stann Reporter | 26 April 2015 | 724 Views

Intruders, including cop, caught at Mujuru's farm - Three intruders we...

by Thobekile Zhou | 26 April 2015 | 1468 Views

Call for more purge on Gamatox members - Zanu PF sympathizers have cal...

by Stephen Jakes | 26 April 2015 | 718 Views

You are lying - ZBC told - ZBC TV has been told to stop lying after it...

by Stephen Jackson | 26 April 2015 | 1640 Views

GMB 'fails' to pay farmers - Umguza farmers who had their farm produce...

by Stephen Jakes | 25 April 2015 | 1704 Views

Malawi orders shutdown of South African shops - Malawians have protes...

by Staff Reporter | 25 April 2015 | 4504 Views

Entertainment

Cassper Nyovest's show not for free - SOUTH African, rapper Cassper Ny...

by Tafadzwa Zimoyo | 23 April 2015 | 2769 Views

Charambas cancel SA tour due to xenophobia - Celebrated gospel artiste...

by Staff reporter | 23 April 2015 | 1929 Views

DJ Sbu's MoFaya hits Bulawayo - Controversial South African TV and ra...

by Staff reporter | 21 April 2015 | 6552 Views

'Miss World racist,' says Chiwenga - Zimbabwe's representatives at wor...

by Melissa Mpofu | 20 April 2015 | 3748 Views

Zimbabwe music star conducts music workshops in Malawi

by Stephen Jakes | 19 April 2015 | 2888 Views

Freddy Gwala eager to speak Shona

by Thobekile Zhou | 19 April 2015 | 5392 Views

Lady Bee Marukazi (Official video)

by Staff Reporter | 18 April 2015 | 7089 Views
iBlog

The Nsa Gets An Ok For Telephony Metadata Collection Yet Again

As much as we’d like to forget about the national security agency (nsa) and its mass surveillance program, it seems that there is no distracting ourselves from this unnerving reality.missing from the news for quite some time now, the issue has resu... Read More
SecNews 09 July 2014 ago

Obviously, Windows Xp Has Nothing More To Offer

With no support from the manufacturer, windows xp no longer receives antivirus updates, which provoked an increase in the number of attacks on xp users. according to avast company, windows xp systems are attacked 6 times more often than the devices r... Read More
Sergey 12 June 2014 ago