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Uranium Properties and Uses
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2006 Australian debate hotted up: "The World Today - Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Friday, 10 November , 2006 12:18:00, Reporter: Sabra Lane
ELEANOR HALL: Six months ago, Prime Minister John Howard declared it was time to open up debate about Australia's nuclear energy future. Within weeks, he'd commissioned a high-profile report into nuclear power, headed by Ziggy Switkowski. But well before that, in August last year, the Federal Government had already commissioned another report, from a man seen as an advocate of the atomic energy industry. Effectively a blueprint outlining how Australia's nuclear industry could be expanded, the report by Melbourne-based industrialist John White is now expected to be released on Monday, and already green groups are worried."
The federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, says nuclear power stations do not have to be built near major population centres. The Government's nuclear power review has found nuclear energy is a practical option for Australia, even though it is more expensive than coal power. The report says nuclear power stations need to be built near major centres and a water source. Mr Macfarlane has told the ABC's 7:30 Report that nuclear reactors are safe and their locations are flexible." (Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
THE EVALUATION OF COMPETING TECHNOLOGIES AND VESTED INTERESTS
INFORMING ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL POLICY DEBATES
The Australian Labor Party rushed
into the media door stop with federal leader
Kim Beazley demonstrating why the Australian
people are frustrated, and disengaged, with politics in the nation. It appears that under our political duopoly, and
closed minded and managed democratic processes, we
are not permitted to have a mature and engaged debate. This occurs in an environment where the other major political party
(labor party) promotes intractable
arguments, simplistic concepts, mixed with hysterical blather and
mind numbing mantra rather than reasoned and
carefuly crafted debate. The federal labor party recruited celebrity Peter Garrett to bolster their
"psychological manipulation" of public sentiment. He is to be fast tracked into the front bech. Why? What are his credentials and cliams
other than he is brainy? Obviously smarter than others who have waited patiently in line. The labor party has become an ignorant and corroded shadow of
its heritage. Anthony Albanese, labor's environmental spokesperson,
will not brook alternative arguments. His contribution to parliament is not exemplary, or mildly
applaudable. I consider his work to be of low value, in terms of policy construction and contribution
compared to what he gets in return from the
public purse. One hopes that he is of value to his electorate.
The senior leaders of the Australian Labor party do not consider the ramifications of their ideology for they have no experience in creating jobs and running a business. They have never managed exprt industry projects, never held positions higher than their trade union colleagues and neverv have had to exercise responsibility for their actions in the parliament or in their closeted worlds. Uranium mining and processing, handling and storage, could take South Australia and the Northern Territory, from their hand to mouth mentality to a burgeoning economy no longer dependent on, and captive to, the motor vehicle manufacturing industry and the federal government. However labor is not the party of growth and development. It is the party that takes a small cake and lices it up for special interests. They cannot bake a new and larger cake.
The anti - business Australian labor party politicians, and members (who unfortunately are in the majority in the party structure at state, federal, territory and local government levels), along with the Greens party, offer no realistic alternatives. They harp on renewables pointing to countries that have wind power as if they are complementary economies and valid examples. They offer no alternatives other than to denigrate and misrepresent using climate change and greenhouse as their only foundation. They cannot compromise and thus will never occupy more than a spoiling role in parliaments. Peter Beattie, Queensland Premier, along with Morris Iemma in NSW have vested coal mining interests to protect. This is a valid reason for their responses against nuclear energy. They face the double edged sword of pollution.
The Premier of NSW, Morris Iemma ever the poor judge, and struggling orator, dramatised the occasion stating that no nuclear stations would be in NSW because the state had legislation. Why not simply say look we have a lot of coal mines to protect and not try and play the end against the middle. Honesty is a commodity that is in short supply in Australian politics. He should mature politically exercising the statesman attributes that once attached to public office. The recent High Court case on corporations power put paid to the states ability to stop the federal government when it exercises its constitutional muscle.
The Greens bleat about renewables whilst ignoring the reality that Australian consumers are demanding ever increasing base load supply. The state governments have typically failed to plan and build infrastructure under the labor party's dead hand. Do not expect anytime soon that labor senior leaders will allow or participate in valuable public policy analysis before self interest politics.
In June 2006 the Prime Minister of Australia John Howard announced a panel of six experts would prepare an evaluation of the potential of uranium energy (power generation) in Australia. This announcement is the first step in the culminatio of events outlined below and the commencement of the debate some yaers ago. The panel brings the prediction a step closer. In a mature society one might expect to be able to have a mature debate about important issues. However in Australia's political system of adversarial behaviour and theatrics this is often a forlorn hope. It says something about the maturity of the nation's political class and the general disengagement of the population. Much debate content is based on anecdotal justification and emotive language and political point scoring. Something people heard somewhere or perceived, assumed or were fed by a media commentator, talk back host or journalist, lacking in substance and fact. The Australian Labor party at the federal level is lead by Kim Beazley. He has demonstrated over his period in parliament that he may lack a real capacity for insightful leadership. Rather than participate in this important debate, and study, with constructive criticism and considered contribution to find the answer that is appropriate to the national interest, he and certain people in the party seem to prefer to sabotage the process and leave the nation largely in the dark. Kim Beazley is a bower bird of words. He has adopted two key phrases of late, "middle Australia" and "renewable energy". He trots them out regularly without explaining, in any substantial way, what they mean to him or how they can add to the nation's quality of life. "..the reality is that the (energy) industry's future in this country is long on misconceptions and short on facts" (Chanticleer, Australian Financial Review, June 9, 2006). The enquiry should dispel many of the myths and provide a foundation of serious debate particularly as to the contribution of carbon trading and a market mecahnism to give real price indications and not the contrived model, and guesswork, used by the National Electricity Market Company and regulator. The Treasurer Peter Costello did not inspire any confidence that he any idea about energy economics. He dismissed the comments by two panel members as to the benefits of a carbon trading market as if they were proposing a carbon tax instead of a valid and more accurate method of sending price signals. It would also tell us what the cost of environmental elements and waste. Parts of the media are as ill informed when they confuse trading and tax and misrepresent the issues for the sake of a story rather than boring reality. Add to the general lack of open mindedness and knowledge, the Premiers of Western Australia and South Australia. They are happy to dig up the ground and export yellow cake but flatly dismiss, without any justification or knowledge, the option of building nuclear power stations.
It is hoped somewhat forlornly that the panel may go about its work without having each individual's integrity questioned by people who themselves are questionable as to their own motivations. It would be difficult to for Kim Beazley, Anthony Albanese, Peter Garrett or Don Henry from the Australian Conservation Foundation, Bob Brown of the Greens and Natasha Stott Despoja of the Democrats, or Peter Costello or any politician or vested interest group member to claim to be free of conflicts of interests, and personal goals, that are at odds with the national interest.
Peter Garrett, a former musician and environmental campaigner has entered the Australian parliament as a labor party member. He typifies the lack of maturity and substance to which I refer above. In the same vein we find the arguments of senior labor party parliamentarian, Anthony Albanese. Both are quick to exploit emotions but short on evaluating the facts. Mr. Garrett has the following on his web site: "The US’s chief climate change negotiator, Harlan Watson also in Australia, was reported in the Australian Financial Review (4 April) as saying the world will be dependent on fossil fuel for the foreseeable future, that developing countries could not be expected to do anything to hinder their economic growth and that clean coal systems and improved nuclear power generation were the way forward. I have to say with respect, that Mr Watson is wrong. The way things often work here, we can expect a similar comment from a senior Government minister to be made in due course - and that will be plain wrong too." He rambles across many quotes using evocative, emotional and sometimes puerile language without ever proposing a solution other than a "carbon trading market" and nebulous renewable energy. He says inter alia:
More to the point, the huge number of nuclear power plants that would need to be built to replace fossil fuel with the associated huge volumes of radioactive waste produced would impose immense costs and create a vast range of security risks. What happens if much larger amounts of radioactive material find its way into the hands of rogue states or terrorists?"
The issue of rogue terrorist threats is addressed in this web site, below.
Perhaps Mr. Garrett seems not to be aware that one tonne of uranium will produce an equivalent amount of energy that 17,000,000 tonnes of coal will and there will be no greenhouse from the nuclear. His web site says, "Existing alternatives including biomass, tidal power and solar all contain much promise. Along with more speculative alternatives like hot rocks and theoretically possible technologies like thermo nuclear, they require significant research and investment over the long term but they hold good prospects for substitution. Wind is a viable renewable technology, in some countries already making a solid contribution to carbon free energy production."
Perhaps Mr. Garrett is not aware of the storage technologies underway in the northern hemisphere. He is not a scientist, a nuclear physicist and nor has he worked in the energy industry. He has no idea how many wind turbines are needed to generate an equivalent amount of electricity to a coal fired, gas or nuclear power station and nor does he know the comparison capital cost amortised to the life of the station and megawatt production.
The Australian government Minister for Finanace and Administration has commented that nuclear power in Australia will not appear in the next one hundred years largely due to cost. There has been much commentary, including by investment bankers, that nuclear stations are not economically viable. Obviously the international agencies and companies that have built them are fiscally illiterate. Well the experts and critics, in Australia, who state that nuclear power is not economcally justifiable are looking through a narrow prism. Firstly one must look at the life cycle amortised cost of an energy plant where every cost caoital and operational is capitalised over the life of the plant. Then one must calculate the external values - waste, environmental benefits, health, social including multiplier factors (economy, society and welfare) and capitalise those. When one does that it is found that uranium is a viable fuel source and a power station is in fact in the ball park of overall positive evaluation. Of course the vested (opposing) interests will never do this.They prefer to deal in emotive and nebolous issues where facts are refined and excluded.
Extract again: "For the Labor Party, which has already grasped the nettle on climate change, I believe we should strongly consider a formal commitment to deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, namely 60% by 2050. We should also consider the implementation of national energy efficiency standards for housing and government stock and further increasing the MRET target to give greater opportunity for the provision of more renewable energy. Some business leaders are already public in their support for a carbon tax with former BHP chief Paul Anderson floating the idea recently."
Is this support for the carbon tax altruistic? Could it be that carbon trading might be worth billions to a BHP or similar organisation? What would a $1.00 carbon tax do the price of electricity from a power station, subsequently transiteed and distributed to the consumer, and would the labor party ever win an election, at state or federal level again, if they introduced a carbon tax? So rather than simply throw it out there let's look at it in detail.
The New Zealand government has done some work on a carbon tax.
Here is an extract from the paper. "The tax is expected to lead to a one-off increase in some prices. There will be some costs to the economy as a result of the carbon tax, but these are a necessary consequence of New Zealand playing its part in reducing global emissions. However, there will also be offsetting benefits to the economy from the business tax reforms that will be financed by the carbon tax.
2.15 Overall, estimates of the macroeconomic impact vary, although a small but negative impact on economic activity (measured by GDP) is expected. Depending on the international emissions price, GDP in 2010 is likely to be in the order of 0.03% lower than it would otherwise have been. 2.16 The effect of a $15 a tonne carbon tax on household budgets is difficult to predict precisely. The complex nature of the electricity supply industry makes a key element, the expected increase in electricity prices, difficult to pin down, and households have a wide range of patterns of energy use. From a current residential price of around 17 cents per kWh, electricity could increase in price anywhere between 0.7 cents and 1.1 cents per kWh. The cost of a $15 a tonne CO2 tax to a typical household is estimated to total in the order of $4 a week for electricity, petrol and other fuels, assuming average energy usage.
2.17 The table sets out a range of specific energy price increases that could result from the carbon tax, assuming a tax rate of $15 a tonne of carbon dioxide or carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas and that all of the cost of the tax is passed on to customers, and the wholesalers and retailers do not price to retain their margins (in percentage terms). "
|Product||Approximate price increase (GST exclusive)||Approximate price increase (GST inclusive)|
|1 litre of petrol||3.5 cents||4 cents|
|1 litre of diesel||4 cents||4.6 cents|
|1 GJ sub-bituminous coal||$1.33||$1.50|
|10kg sub-bituminous coal||30 cents||34 cents|
|1 GJ natural gas||79 cents||88 cents|
|9 kg bottle of LPG||41 cents||46 cents|
Richard Morgenstern, et al, authored a more detailed analytical paper on the
Distributional Impacts of Carbon Mitigation Policies,
in 2002. David Newberry, Cambridge University undertook some preliminary research on the
effect on the United Kingdom gas market.|
"Contact Energy welcomed confirmation that the Government’s carbon tax will initially be set at NZ$15 per tonne of carbon, as announced today by the Hon Pete Hodgson, Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change. Contact Energy chief executive Steve Barrett said that confirmation of the level of the future carbon tax, which will take effect from April 2007, clarifies an important factor in planning for New Zealand’s future energy needs. Confirming the level at $15 per tonne provides welcome certainty on the relative impact of the carbon tax on available energy options. The actual impact of the carbon tax on electricity prices will not become clear until it is introduced in two years’ time. Competitive and market factors, as well as today’s announced level of the carbon tax, will be important factors on the actual price impact at that time.” Mr Barrett also welcomed the Government’s intention that the carbon tax regime be an interim precursor to a full emissions trading scheme." Source: Scoop, NZ, 4 May, 2005
The Cooler Heads Coalition in the USA says: "Consumers would see the cost of heating fuel, electricity, and transportation dramatically increase. Indirectly, proposals would raise the costs of all consumer goods, including food and consumer products, which would hurt the poor disproportionately. Incomes would drop. Some firms would be forced out of business; others would move their operations to developing countries, thereby increasing the ranks of the unemployed. From these drastic policies, the effects on all sectors of the American public would be broad and dramatic....Policies to curb emissions not only reduce income growth and curtail household consumption, they also worsen the distribution of income in the United States.....Carbon taxes will cause relatively large income losses in the poorest one-fifth of the population.....Stabilizing emissions at 1990 levels by 2010 would reduce the growth of U.S. per capita income by about five percent per year....Reducing emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels would reduce per capita income growth by about 10 percent per year....The low-cost carbon tax in 2010 might be $160 per ton with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) loss estimated at 0.8 percent; the high-cost estimates suggest a tax of $260 per ton with GDP loss at 1.3 percent annually."
In April 2006 the Australian government signed a uranium deal with China, Australia sits on the cusp of being the largest supplier of uranium in the world, the Australian labor party decided to revisit its three mines policy and the things predicted and the actions undertaken, and described below, came to fuition and were found to be true. In 2005 leading financial analysts, energy and industry commentators, media, politicians and others, did not see over the horizon. KEVINRBECK had looked over the horizon in 2003 and seen this outcome for uranium.
Many politicians, ministers and their advisers, seem to assume that all policy and decision emanates from sources with which they are aware and with which they have interaction. Thus when someone who they think has no place, or status, in the debate writes, they are dismissive. They acknowldege the presence, and influencing capacities of big business, but are oblivious to a growing number of behind the scenes strategists who use technology, and human networks, to participate in significant government, and commercial, policy issues and processes.
On Monday 17 October, 2005, Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Ms Clare Martin, reacted angrily to the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Brendan Nelson's proposal for legislation to establish a "low level waste dump" in the Territory. She claims that the Prime Minister reniged on some promise to take due acount of the Territory laws. Myopically she says that some 'department in Canberra" carried out a desk top study of the justification, and evaluation. This myopia demonstrates the above point of narrow comprehension of how government gets its information and the sources with which it interacts. Ms Martin is not simply dealing with the federal government in isolation of other interested people and entities. The Department of Education, Science and Training may well have undertaken its nuclear research activities from a desk in Canberra and by interaction with other Commonwealth agencies and they have published a little animated video of a truck going into a facility with some explanatory notes. However, there are a large number of people who interact with government.
This lack of awareness of altered dynamics is one reason why Australia has trouble examining, and debating, significant issues with a mature and calm approach. Instead we have hysteria, and kneee jerk responses, and the barricades go up. Ms. Martin can bluster and rant along with other supporters on the standard "not in our backyard" response. The disposal of nuclear waste, and other related matters such as energy and environment, are pressing public policy matter that has to be adressed and it can not be simply flicked away by an immature politician whose focus is on electroral prospects in the short term. Ms. Martin will lose any legal challenges and she will also respect from potential investors. On the one hand she states that she has a "pro-development and pro-business government vision for the Territory and on the other she runs a mile from the hard issues. She probably has no problem with putting gas extraction plants along the coast of the Northern Territory to fuel the energy needs of the development. Perhaps she holds false assumptions about the environmental, containment and health issues, of that particularly industry as she does for uranium.
Why has this issue arisen now and what will be the outcomes?
In January 2005 the owner of this web site, Kevin R Beck, wrote to state, territory and federal members of Australia's parliaments, copying the media enquiring why it is not possible to have a mature debate and predicting that events would soon push Australia in the direction of uranium. This was not some idle thought, and speculation, conjured up by someone engaged in desk top studies. In the years 2000 - 2004 the owner of this web site met with representatives of agencies, corporations, governments and institutions at senior manager to board level in London, Zurich, Frankfurt, Berlin, New York, Montreal and Los Angeles, discussing resources, energy and environment. It was apparent from those meetings that powerful commercial interests were going to expand their activities, agendas and strategies and the uranium industry expansion and debate would arrive on Australia's door step in early 2005.. This communication was predicting that the issue of uranium mining, and nuclear generation for electricity, would become a significant public policy issue and debate and commercial reality. It was accurately predicted that former Labor Premier Bob Carr would take an advance position supporting the proposition that Australia should seriously look at nuclear energy. The owner of this site further predicts that a nuclear power station would be proposed for constructon near the Victorian, NSW and South Australian border junctions.
In response to the distributed communication, a lower level employee in the Greens' Senator, Bob Brown's office, wrote a dismissive paragraph. The Democrats sent a short paragraph about their policy. Neither demonstrated a cogent, and informative response. The general response from minor parties, and a typical lack lustre response, by federal labor indicated then, as it still does, that they are oblivious to the back room dynamics, and influences, that will drive this agenda forward.
The Western Australian government wrote a more extensive response indicating that they were opposed and had legislation banning uranium mining. Peter Beattie's Minister for Mines, in Queensland, responsed that the state had large coal reserves. Queensland is straight jacketed by its investment in, and reliance on,thermal fossil fuels.
Victoria's Premier, Steve Bracks, never responds to communications probably because that government does not recognise an individual unless they are considered worthy by position or wealth to a reply. In any event Victoria has no cogent or coherent energy policy because the government is Their policies are "windmills" in their minds. Similarly Kim Beazley and his shadow ministers never responmd for they are as myopic, immature and behind the times as Victoria's labor party. These people are actually irrelevant because they have neither political, corporate or monetary power. This is big business doing its global thing.
In Tasmania the state labor government has hitched its barrow to a big cable across Bass Strait, linking their nwtork to Victoria, that is yet to materialise. They have a slavish reliance on natural gas at whatever cost is necessary to realise the government's policy ill thought policy, condemning the state to future life of servitude and subsidies to the private builders of these assets. Their justification for this obsession is that copious numbers of new industry aspirants and investors will rush to the island lured by cheap gas? If, as Tasmania tells its citizens, cheap energy is the lure, why is the Latrobe Valley in Victoria not a hub of extensive commercial enterprise beyond the brown coal mines, fossil and gas power stations? They produce energy at under $30 per megawatt hour and flog it off at a mark up most commercial enterprises would envy. They can supply local business at under $40 per megawatt if they wanted to. But they are not socially inclind.
Federal Labor is as moribund in their understanding of the dynamics with spokesperson Martin Ferguson dismissing the debate as irrelevant and Kim Beazley as always left behind due to poor advice and lack of people who can actually strategise.
In April - May 2005, multinational corporations began a bidding war for uranium mines in Australia catching most if not all of the media, economic commentators, investment gurus and the "thumb in the bum, mind in neutral" Greens, Democrats, Victorian and Western Australian Labor parties flat footed and off guard. There are to be more mines too beyond what we have today. They will move to benefication and processing. In July 2005 the federal Minister Brendan Nelson released the government's policy options for a nuclear waste storage facility in the Northern Territory and announced in August that it was taking over uranium mining control in the Northern Territory. Why? They knew what was coming and have been keeping the secret for quite a while.
WHAT A COINCIDENCE
There's a big PR push in America for nuclear development too!
SPINNING ATOMS INTO GOLD
Despite securing up to $13 billion in federal subsidies in the recently passed energy bill, according to estimates by Public Citizen, the nuclear industry continues its PR offensive. The major industry group in the USA, Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is "soliciting help from PR agencies to assist in removing all major legislative and regulatory impediments to a nuclear renaissance," reports PR Week.
The major goal of the 14 month, $8 million campaign is "to bolster public support for the development of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain" in Nevada. The campaign will include outreach to "sympathetic groups, including selected members of the academic, public health, and environmental communities." Some eight PR firms, including Ogilvy, Burson-Marsteller and Dittus Communications, are interested in working on the campaign. NEI will select a firm by August 15.(SOURCE: PR Week, August 1, 2005)
For more information or to comment on this story, click here
How power stations work.
Fossil fuel (coal, oil, and natural gas) is burned inside the boiler to produce heat. Water, passing through metal pipes, absorbs heat from the burning fuel and is converted to steam. The water gets cooled in a cooling tower and is sent back to the boiler where the process repeats itself.) Steam spins the shaft of the turbine. The shaft connects the wheel to a generator. As the wheel turns, the shaft moves with it, producing an electric current in the wire.
Conventional power stations burn coal, oil or gas to produce electricity. Coal, oil and gas are called fossil fuels because they form over millions of years through the decay, burial and compaction of rotting vegetation on land (coal), and marine organisms on the sea floor (oil and gas). Burning fossil fuels in this way releases large quantities of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides which can cause acid rain.
Coal supplies the world with one fourth of its energy and, despite the pollution that it causes, that proportion is unlikely to change much as energy production rises over coming decades. It is plentiful and, in several big countries with fast-growing economies, inexpensive to mine.If coal-related pollution is to be reduced, it will require forceful public policy decisions and public willingness to pay for cleaner air.
The scale of the problem is the first in a series of briefing documents on the problems of power consumption, posed by the steady depletion of fossil fuels and most particularly of pumpable oil.
Since the early 1970s the pressure has been to conserve crude oil supplies, in 50 years or so it will be to reduce burning of all fossil fuels and to conserve coal. In that time coal will have taken over some of the roles of oil today, especially as a chemical feedstock. The importance of energy conservation is obvious, even in areas where so far fuels have been relatively cheap. The levelling-out of overall energy demand in developed countries over the last decade is a result of increased energy efficiency. However, in developing countries growth in energy demand from a low starting point continually increases the pressures on resources world-wide, despite conservation initiatives - see Table 1. Many people in developing nations aspire to the standard of living, agricultural productivity and industrialisation characteristic of the developed countries. Fulfilling these hopes depends on the availability of abundant energy. Growth of the world's population from the present level of 6 billion people to a projected 7.5 billion in 2020, mostly in today's developing nations, increases the challenge. Will nuclear replace fossil fuel?
With the coming into effect of the Kyoto protocol,1 the use of nuclear power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has taken greater prominence in debate. In this context, Australia’s large resources of uranium the feedstock of nuclear power—will become more important. In addition, the growing gap between demand and supply of uranium is driving world prices higher, ultimately to the advantage of Australia’s uranium miners. This brief examines the issues of Australia’s uranium in the context of world supply and demand, shows why world prices are rising and looks to the future of the uranium industry in the environmental debate over greenhouse gas emissions.
Prague, 23 December 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Even as the diplomatic initiative by the three European Union nations proceeds, there are signs that a final deal to end the Iranian nuclear crisis could be very hard to reach. One reason is Tehran's insistence of its right under the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to produce its own reactor fuel -- a right that it says it might briefly suspend but will never give up.
If Uranium is used in large, explosive "hard target" warheads (up to 1500 kg) it will create levels of radioactive contamination 100 times higher and more widespread than the depleted uranium anti-tank "penetrators" used in the Gulf War. After bomb attacks in the Balkans in 1999 increased levels of airborne Uranium dust were detected in Greece and Hungary. Any warheads containing Uranium will cause permanent Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation hazards in target areas. They are radiological bombs - weapons of indiscriminate effect in terms of the 1st Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions. 23 weapon systems are questioned see Figure 1 (warhead size) and Table 1 (combat use since 1991) in the full report here. The claim that uranium during the Kosovo intervention caused leukemia in 24 European members of the peacekeeping force is unfounded. Numerous studies of depleted uranium--the byproduct of the process of extracting fuel for nuclear reactors and weapons from uranium-- have not found any link between its use by the military and any form of cancer or other health probalems.
In 1984 the federal Labor government introduced their three mines policy. It confined Australia's uranium production to the three sites already being mined: Ranger, Nabarlek and Olympic Dam. At the time, the mining industry felt that this unnecessarily restricted uranium mining. Present government policy is to allow uranium to be mined and exported The three mines policy was abandoned when the Coalition government was elected in March 1985. The Coalition's policy is to develop the export potential of Australia's uranium industry by allowing mining and export of uranium under strict international agreements designed to prevent nuclear proliferation. Today the Ranger mine in the Northern Territory and the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia continue to operate, but the Nabarlek mine has closed. There is now a third uranium mine operating (Beverley), with approval given for a fourth mine (Honeymoon). Both of these mines are in South Australia.
Uranium mining and nuclear energy continue to be contentious issues involving both facts and ideology. Public ignorance of general industrial standards of performance means that trivial incidents can acquire high profile in media. In particular places part of the debate is site-specific rather than about uranium and nuclear energy.
The Australian Anti Uranium Movement
In Australia as in many other countries, there grew up in the latter half of the 1970s a major citizen’s movement against nuclear power. The Australian struggle against nuclear power has mainly been a struggle against uranium mining in Australia's Northern Territory. Here is a general account of this struggle, covering the origins of the Australian anti-nuclear movement, issues in the nuclear debate and the strategy of the movement. But to begin, a bit of background on the Australian situation may be useful and then examine the issue in the world context of big commercial influences and power politics today, through the sources below