Breaking News

Uranium-mining investments at risk

by Byo24News
14 March 2011 | 1701 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

Should Miss World Zimbabwe have been dethroned?

Yes
34.39%
No
61.09%
Not sure
4.52%
221

Comments

News Updates

Email:

Latest News

HCCL splashes $31m on second -hand equipment - Hwange Colliery Company...

by Thobekile Zhou | 06 July 2015 | 827 Views

Voices for Zim Wildlife Statement on the Exported Zimbabwe Baby Elepha...

by Kenesias Dambakurima The VOICES FOR ZIM WILDLIFE (For Elephants and Rhinos) | 06 July 2015 | 428 Views

'Democracy is govt by the people for the people' after 35 yrs Zimbos a...

by Wilbert Mukori | 06 July 2015 | 1125 Views

Jonathan Moyo demoted or promoted in the Cabinet reshuffle? - Presiden...

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 2922 Views

Illegal Glenview land settlers given ultimatum to vacate land - A comp...

by Stephen Jakes | 06 July 2015 | 1938 Views

Mugabe snubs Grace in Cabinet reshuffle - President Robert Mugabe has ...

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 8235 Views

Jonathan Moyo moved to Higher and Tertiary Education ministry

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 6011 Views

Jonathan Moyo back in Mugabe's Cabinet - President Robert Mugabe has...

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 7232 Views

MTN CEO quits - MTN Group today announced the resignation of Ahmad Fa...

by Staff Writer | 06 July 2015 | 4103 Views

Teacher impregnates pupil - A Chitungwiza teacher has been suspended f...

by Staff Reporter | 06 July 2015 | 4939 Views

Tenant abuses landlady's daughter - A tenant  at a house in Cowdr...

by Staff Reporter | 06 July 2015 | 3894 Views

Businessman swallows three razor blades in rituals - A Binga businessm...

by Staff Reporter | 06 July 2015 | 3499 Views

Mugabe to reshuffle Cabinet today

by Thobekile Zhou | 06 July 2015 | 5594 Views

Mugabe's Zanu-PF must thank Morgan Tsvangirai - Zanu-PF smiles from ea...

by Edmund Kudzayi | 06 July 2015 | 2512 Views

Drama as hubby walks in on prophet praying for his undressed wife - A...

by Staff Reporter | 06 July 2015 | 6714 Views

Tsvangirai-Mujuru grand coalition move slammed - FORMER Prime Ministe...

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 3284 Views

Chiefs do not belong to Zanu-PF - Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa c...

by Justice Benjamin Paradza | 06 July 2015 | 2634 Views

ZBC accused of lying about David Masondo's death - Social commentators...

by Stephen Jakes | 06 July 2015 | 7439 Views

Grace Mugabe son's messengers flee for their lives - TWO emissaries se...

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 5779 Views

Tomana ouster will not be easy - Controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe...

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 2686 Views

US spies flock to Zimbabwe - The visit by two American government offi...

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 4306 Views

Mugabe complies with Con-Court order - According to the latest governm...

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 3137 Views

Mnangagwa 2 Kasukuwere 0 - VP Emmerson Mnangagwa's ally has bagged the...

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 4101 Views

Muchinguri caught on tape making disparaging remarks on Zanu-PF bigwig...

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 3891 Views

2 die in NRZ building elevator accident - TWO people died after an ele...

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 2702 Views

Telecel to cut salaries - According to an internal letter to staff, T...

by Staff reporter | 06 July 2015 | 2776 Views

Bosso salvages a draw with 10 men Triangle

by Ricky Zililo | 06 July 2015 | 2569 Views

Entertainment

Bigger and Better Women's Day Gospel Festival

by Entertainment Reporter | 03 July 2015 | 3236 Views

Silence Is Not Peace!, Says Bongani Ncube

by Nkosini Tshuma | 02 July 2015 | 4378 Views

Zimbabweans fail to answer a simple question like who is your former p...

by Staff reporter | 02 July 2015 | 5531 Views

Zim Achievers to host first ever winners and nominees reception - Win...

by Arts Correspondent | 02 July 2015 | 2467 Views

Team Bulawayo UK Shows cancelled - The Team Bulawayo UK shows which we...

by Thulani Nkala | 02 July 2015 | 2934 Views

DStv adds new channel for Zimbabwe viewers

by Staff reporter | 01 July 2015 | 11122 Views

Rihanna Duct Tapes Floyd Mayweather's Mouth Shut at BET Awards

by Staff Reporter | 30 June 2015 | 9508 Views

Professor wants out of Kalawa - KWAITO star Professor wants out of Ka...

by Staff reporter | 30 June 2015 | 6826 Views
iBlog

Mobile Spy Software Maker Mspy Hacked

mspy, the makers of a software-as-a-service product that claims to help more than two million people spy on the mobile devices of their kids and partners, to have been massively hacked. a public relations pitch from mspy to krebsonsecurity in march ... Read More
SecNews 17 May 2015 ago

Ios 9 Features Inspired By Android

apple announced ios 9 on monday, and while watching the keynote, i had just a little bit of déjà vu. most of ios 9's new features seem to be squarely aimed at apple's biggest rival in mobile: android. specifically, they were about catching up to ... Read More
Sergey 13 June 2015 ago